Five Inevitable January Transfers Could Define Serie A Top-Four Frame

It’s that time of the year when Serie A clubs can rectify past mistakes and set the tone for the crunch period of the campaign. The January transfer window is just around the corner, offering teams one last opportunity to fill squad gaps and buckle up for the final sprint.

As we reach the midpoint of the 2023/24 Serie A season, the championship race, the battle for the top four positions, and the relegation frame have taken shape. Inter and Juventus have steered clear of the rest of the pack in a two-way Scudetto friction, with Milan lurking from the shadows in third. 

While Stefano Pioli would appreciate a late title push, his side must first pay attention to securing a fourth consecutive top-four finish. Despite sitting five points above fifth-placed Bologna, Rossoneri’s lead in the Champions League qualification logjam is anything but comfortable. Teams like Atalanta, Roma, Fiorentina, and Napoli can smell blood in the water.

On that basis, January transfer dealings could have a decisive impact on the final standings come May 2024. Not just Milan, all other sides with lofty ambitions would be well-advised to dive back into the market pool to strengthen their respective squads. This Serie A campaign has yet to produce crucial twists and plots as we look at transfers that must happen this winter. 

Inter – Cuadrado’s Replacement Already at Doorstep

Only final details are missing as Club Brugge starlet Tajon Buchanan braces himself for a high-profile switch to Inter. At 24, the Canada international is at his peak power, ready to take his career to the next level after two years in the Jupiler Pro League. 

Inter will reportedly part with €7/8 million to lure the ex-New England Revolution star to Giuseppe Meazza. Buchanan comes in as an emergency signing after Juan Cuadrado decided to undergo Achilles tendon surgery. 

Cuadrado’s absence is not the only reason behind Buchanan’s imminent arrival. Denzel Dumfries has endured an injury-hit start to the season, while Matteo Darmian fares much better at center-back. 

Juventus – Max Allegri in Market for New Midfielder

Juventus had an atypically quiet summer by their standard, perhaps bereft of confidence following UEFA’s decision to ban them from European competition for a year. Speaking of suspensions, Nicolo Fagioli and Paul Pogba have received harsh punishments for breaching betting and doping rules, respectively. 

The duo’s long-term absence has left manager Massimiliano Allegri strapped for options in the middle of the park. But with Juventus now going toe-to-toe with Inter in a fiercely-contested title race, the record-time Serie A champions will probably sign a new midfielder to bolster their title bid. 

Manchester City outcast Kalvin Phillips and Tottenham Hotspur stalwart Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have emerged as potential winter reinforcements for Juventus. Considering Spurs’ reluctance to sell their prized asset for pennies on the dollar, the former seems like a more realistic target. 

Milan – Defensive Emergency Requires Undivided Attention

With all hands on deck, Milan’s backline is porous at best. But when the injury crisis hits, it’s even worse. Things have spiraled out of hand for Pioli after Fikayo Tomori joined Mattia Caldara, Marco Pellegrino, Pierre Kalulu, and Malick Thiaw in the treatment room. 

Among the sides to start 2024 in the upper half of the Serie A standings, only reigning champions Napoli (21) have conceded more goals than Milan (20). It’s hard to imagine Matteo Gabbia’s impending return from a dreadful loan spell at Villareal providing a solution.

Milan must land a more high-caliber center-back. Paris Saint-Germain misfit Norid Mukiele has reportedly been on Pioli’s radar for some time. If the Italians can convince their French counterparts to accept a loan deal, it could be a season-defining piece of business for Rossoneri

Roma – Adding Creativity is Imperative 

Summer signings Houssem Aouar and Renato Sanches have been nothing short of embarrassing during their early Serie A careers. The latter has fallen out of favor with Jose Mourinho, with Roma ‘actively’ trying to send the PSG loanee back to the Parc des Princes

Sanches’ potential exit would open space for a new midfielder. Mourinho would be wise to consider landing a new playmaker. Roma’s creativity problems are long-standing. Bryan Cristante and Leandro Paredes are well-versed in breaking the opposition attacks but lack guile. 

Napoli – Downtrodden Champs Need Everything They Can Get

It’s been a season of great disappointment for defending Serie A champions Napoli. Victor Osimhen has left his scoring boots in the closet after last season’s Capocannoinere-award-winning campaign. Khivcha Kvaratskhelia is inches away from earning a tag as a ‘one-season-wonder.’

On top of that, Napoli sold Elif Elmas to RB Leipzig. Stanislav Lobotka and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa won’t reach last season’s level ever again. Where does that leave under-pressure manager Walter Mazzarri? The answer is in the dust!

Udinese’s Lazar Samardzic is reportedly in advanced talks with Napoli over a winter move to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. But the Serbian’s acquisition will probably prove insufficient for the fallen giants’ quest to secure Champions League football. 

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