Marco Verratti, for many, was and is still considered the brightest prospect in Italian Football. Serie A giants Milan and Juventus came in with offers for the young prodigy, which were seemingly deemed unimpressive by Pescara and quickly rejected. Rumors then started emanating of a new powerhouse growing increasingly interested in Verratti.
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PSG, the club from France’s capital and the very same club who had purchased Serie A superstars in Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Thiago Silva among many others, entered into the fray. A tug-of-war emerged between Juventus and PSG with the latter’s willingness to splash out and match Pescara’s asking fee of €12m trumping the Serie A champion’s chances of securing Verratti’s signature. Verratti was sold and groans echoed around Italy at Juventus’ inability to rope in the 19 year old wonderkid. Another prodigious young talent was set to move to greener pastures abroad in the hope of a big club that could support him and help him fulfill his ambitions. Verratti followed in the foot-steps of Giuseppe Rossi, Fabio Borni and Davide Santon among others.
Verratti’s agent clearly expressed his frustration towards Serie A clubs’ lack of faith in young players. His words weren’t simply out of annoyance but had certain substance behind them. There has always been a growing fear that Italy maybe losing out or halting the progress of their own gifted players by investing in foreigners. These very young Serie A players are now not averse to a move on to foreign shores and who could blame them? The lack of opportunities presented to them in their very own land to flourish is a bit degrading and makes the idea of going abroad a more attractive option.
Serie A clubs often prefer loaning out their youngsters to lower league outfits where their chances of first-team action looked more viable. The player’s progress is monitored and a decision is made as to whether he returns to the club or stays out on loan. Gambling on these players isn’t an option as winning is a necessity and deploying inexperienced players is seen as a hurdle towards achieving this objective. Indeed, most Serie A teams would rather splash out money on a more experienced and proven player than take a chance up on a player coming through their very own youth ranks.
Serie A’s Financial Struggle
But with the economical struggle plaguing Serie A outfits, the time is right for a change in attitude and policy. Serie A sides are struggling from a financial point of view and the effects of which are evident in the transfer market. No longer do these very teams command the kind of attention and attraction they once did. Milan, for example, were forced to sell two of their best players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to oil-rich PSG in a bid to balance their books. Their fellow European rivals’ superior financial capability gives them little chance of luring the biggest stars out there.
These economic problems have risen due to various issues. Faulty infrastructure is often blamed for the poor attendance rate among Serie A sides. Only Juventus, due to their magnificent new Juventus Stadium managed to pull in encouraging numbers for their home games. Udinese seem set to follow in Juventus’ example with plans of a new stadium themselves and other Serie A teams should be prepared to follow suit in the hope of a successful future. Foreign investors might help resolve the various financial issues and bring with them the dawn of a new and optimistic era.
It is due to these very monetary issues that Serie A sides should turn towards the youth within the peninsula and focus more on their development. Players that have graduated from a club’s primavera cost little but their impact for the club in the long-term could be worth millions. A bit of attention towards their progress might help usher in a new and bright age for Italian Football. With a hint of trust and confidence, Italian teams may strike gold within their own territories.
The traditionally bigger sides need to stop using their youth as bargaining chips and currency but rather help them grow in the best environment possible. The focus on Italian youth is the need of the hour as they represent the future of a declining league and possibly its best hope.
Players like Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Luca Marrone have all shown enough promise to warrant a starting role in the future for their respective teams and indeed the national side. What they need is the backing of their coaches and an environment to help them blossom. Luis Enrique at Roma last season encouraged the influx of youth into his teams while his successor, Zdenek Zeman, is widely regarded as one of the best managers around when it comes to introducing youth players to first team action. Inter, too, have a young manager who is said to be an advocator of taking the risk of offering young players a spot in the first team.
The fact that Mattia Destro was amongst Serie A’s most sought after players perhaps is an indication that Serie A teams have realized that placing faith in one of their own is the way forward; the effects of which will prove to be fruitful not only for the club itself but also the National side. Cesare Prandelli’s act of assurance in calling up Destro, Verratti and Ogbonna in the provisional squad for Euro 2012 offers encouragement that the future of the National side is in the hands of a fearless manager and with a bit of help from his colleagues at club level, Italy and Serie A can dare to dream of a future that may resemble the glory days of the past.