The column of the week from Richard Hough for all the Verona-lovers speaking english.
Fans of Hellas Verona are bracing themselves for another string of high-profile departures this summer.
After last summer’s mass exodus, fans of Hellas Verona are once again bracing themselves for another string of high-profile departures this summer.
Instead of asking “who will go”, it sometimes seems simpler to ask, “who will stay”.
Last summer Amrabat, Rrahmani and Kumbulla were sold, as the club sought to capitalise on the relatively modest investments they’d made on these players (Kumbulla was in fact a product of the Hellas Verona academy system). Pessina and Borini were also allowed to go when their loan spells expired, and Pazzini’s epic playing career finally fizzled out in a 3-0 defeat away to Genoa.
Somehow Hellas survived last summer’s exodus and have, if anything, improved this season. Once again, Juric has performed miracles.
From the shadows of last season’s departed stars, new heroes have emerged in the shape of Barak, Lovato and Zaccagni. While Lovato and Zaccagni are both the property of Hellas (Lovato was signed from Padova for just €1m, while Zaccagni is another product of the Hellas youth system), Barak is on loan from Udinese, with a contract that expires in the summer.
Hellas also have enticing right to buy clauses on Ivan Ilić and Federico Dimarco (on loan from Manchester City and Inter Milan respectively), both of whom would represent sound investments in the future, if the club can be persuaded to loosen the purse strings in the short term. If Hellas have serious ambitions to compete in the top half of Serie A in the future, such talent can’t be allowed to slip through the net.
Kevin Lasagna is loanee, although his contract keeps him in Verona until the summer 2022, so he at least will be given another season to prove himself at the Bentegodi.
Others established players, including Silvestri, Günter, Dawidowicz, Faraoni, Lazović and Veloso, constitute the backbone of the team and must also be retained if the club is to maintain the identity that it has forged over the last couple of seasons.
To the alarm of local fans, the Gazzetto dello Sport this week reported that Napoli wanted “half of Verona”. Juric, Bark and Zaccagni are all linked with a summer move to Verona’s southern rivals. Napoli have reportedly made a €10m offer for Zaccagni. With 27 appearances, five goals and seven assists in Serie A this season, Hellas will feel entitled to ask for something closer to €15m for an attacking midfielder in his prime. De Laurentiis is also said to be interested in Czech midfielder Antonin Barak. With six goals and two assists from 25 appearances, Barak will surely command a similar fee to his teammate Zac.
Juric himself is under contract at Verona until 30 June 2023, and his is just one of a number of names being associated with I Partenopei to succeed Rino Gattuso. That shortlist also includes Rafa Benitez, Luciano Spalletti and Vincenzo Italiano, and the return of Maurizio Sarri is another possibility. At the moment such talk is merely speculation of the kind required to fill column inches during a slow international break, but there is no doubting the high esteem in which Verona’s Croatian coach is held. It was announced earlier this week that Juric came second to Gasperini in last season’s Panchina D’Oro (Golden Bench) award, ahead of the likes of Roberto De Zerbi (Sassuolo), Simone Inzaghi (Lazio) and Maurizio Sarri (Juventus).
In Verona, the hope is very much that the man from Spalato will honour his contract and that he will begin the campaign next season from a position of strength, rather than with a depleted squad like the one he began the current campaign with.
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