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Calciomercato Players to watch in January
20/12/2017, 10:00
Last week we took a look at the expected January shopping list for the top clubs in Italy, but which Serie A players will dominate the transfer headlines? It will be interesting to see if the trend of top players staying in Italy continues, and considering how tight the races for the scudetto and to avoid relegation currently are, odds are it will. So without further due, here are the Serie A players you’ll hear mentioned a lot in the coming weeks:
 
Gigio Donnarumma: the contract extension he signed last summer was supposed to put an end to all the drama at least until the end of the season, but the last two weeks have felt like an episode of Jersey Shore. At this point it feels that as long as Mino Raiola is Donnarumma’s agent, there will never be tranquility for Gigio at Milan- but to put things in perspective, anyone who hires and keeps Raiola as their agent knows full well how they’ll be represented.
Marek Hamsik decided to fire Raiola because he ultimately wanted to stay at Napoli, as long as Donnarumma doesn’t do the same, he’ll always have one foot out the door. While Juventus isn’t a realistic destination for a variety of reasons, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Atletico Madrid (should they sell Oblank) are certainly in the mix for Donnarumma in 2018.
 
Mauro Icardi: the fact that Inter didn’t qualify for European competition has certainly helped Spalletti since he could focus exclusively on Serie A, but now that the transfer window is upon, it has also given legs to the rumor Icardi could leave Inter to join Real Madrid since he’s not cup tied. But despite a reasonable exit clause in today’s market when you consider Icardi’s track record and young age, he’s very unlikely to leave in 2018, especially in January.
For one Icardi has stayed at Inter when the team wasn’t very good despite over from top clubs, and recently he has finally made peace with Inter’s ultras. The Argentine striker will likely sign a new contract bringing his salary in line with Bonucci, Dybala and Higuain (the highest earners in Serie A) with a substantially higher exit clause than his current one of around 100 million euro.
 
Lichtsteiner/Alex Sandro/Asamoah/Spinazzola
- while De Sciglio’s arrival at Juve will almost always be linked with the Bonucci transaction, but it should be looked as the beginning of rejuvenation of the bianconeri’s options at the wingback position. After Patrice Evra and Dani Alves’ departures, in 2018 we’ll see Lichtsteiner leave Turin and almost certainly at least one between Alex Sandro and Kwawdo Asamoah. While Juventus is expected to keep Alex Sandro and Asamoah (who has an expiring contract) through the end of the season since they’re still competing all on fronts, should you start reading reports of Marotta and Paratici trying to anticipate Leonardo Spinazzola’s return to Turin then Premier League and Galatasaray fans (the latter for Asamoah) can start getting their hopes up.
 
Domenico Berardi- it’s almost incredible that the Sassuolo winger is still only 23 when you consider how many times he’s been linked to top clubs like Juventus, Inter, Roma and Napoli. There’s no doubt that his career has taken a turn for the worse since his club magically qualified for the Europa League, and things haven’t gotten easier since his mentor Eusebio Di Francesco left for Roma. But considering that Sassuolo are in the midst of the battle to avoid relegation and recently made a coaching change to Beppe Iachini, it’s very unlikely that they would sell him in January. The ideal scenario for the neroverdi is for Berardi to have a great second half to the season so he can keep his club in Serie A and re establish his transfer value.
 
Roberto Inglese/Arkadiusz Milik- the injuries to Milik and more recently Insigne, have really exposed Napoli’s depth upfront especially in light of the fact that Ounas has yet to earn Sarri’s trust. The easiest solution would be to anticipate the Chievo’s striker’s arrival to the San Paolo- last summer Napoli had purchased him but then decided to leave him on loan with Maran’s team. Considering that Chievo are comfortably above the relegation zone, they may be open to accommodating this anticipated departure, especially if they can Milik on loan and/or Giaccherini back as part of the deal. A move to Chievo may allow Milik an opportunity to play after a second torn ACL with less pressure for the rest of the season.
 
Sergej Milinkovic Savic- you couldn’t clone a midfielder more appealing than Lazio’s Sergeant. Just 22 year old, with physical skills that combine Pogba’s height with Diego Simeone’s brute force, as well as technique worthy of countless You Tube videos- so is there really any surprise that fans of clubs with deep pockets are drooling over the prospect of acquiring him? But with Lazio in contention in the Europa League and for a Champions League spot, it’s highly unlikely that Milinkovic Savic will be sold in January, especially after he signed an extension last April. But don’t worry, you’ll still ready plenty of reports on clubs scouting him through the end of the season and until the summer when he becomes one of the most sought after players during the summer window.

​Stefan De Vrij- while Lazio has been able to extend Milinkovic Savic, Immobile and Strakosha’s contracts, the Dutch defender’s deal expires at the end of the current season. When healthy De Vrij is one of the best center backs in Serie A, and considering he’s still at the beginning of his prime (he’ll turn 26 next February) he’ll have a lot of suitors especially as a free transfer. On bright side for Lazio, few are better at dealing with expiring deals than president Lotito and sporting director Tare’. While they previously got great returns on Keita, Candreva, Hernanes and Biglia with one year or less left on their contracts, the clock has almost run out on De Vrij. It’s likely that Lazio will sign him to a short extension with a reasonable exit clause (below 30 million) as a compromise so that they do not lose such a valuable player for free.
 
Joao Mario- the Portuguese midfielder is the key to Inter’s January window. Should they be able to find a club willing to what is left of the amortized value of his transfer fee (around 30 million euro), they’ll be able to reinvest to acquire either a center back or an offensive midfielder to give more option to Spalletti upfront.

Inter could also look to use him to do a swap deal comparable to the one involving Kondogbia and Joao Cancelo last summer, Ausilio and Spalletti could look to move him to either PSG (in exchange for Pastore) or Manchester United (for Mkhitaryan).

@DavidAmoyal
David Amoyal
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