If you ended up here and are older than 25 (well, maybe even if you are younger than that…), chances are you owned a football sticker album at least once as a kid. Transfer market sessions are pretty much like that: A stickers swapping exercise. Players come and go. “Got, got, need.”
The Cult of Calcio’s Stickers Swapping column brings you the best of the “calciomercato” trends and rumors, looking at who’s set to close the next big deal and who has already done it…
It’s no secret that Genoa have been having a poor season so far, and the appointment of Thiago Motta as a manager, after having already sacked Aurelio Andreazzoli, was a terrible idea. Sitting bottom of the table in December, the Grifone acted and replaced the former Inter and Paris Saint Germain midfielder with ex-Crotone and Udinese coach Davide Nicola.
Ever since Nicola took over, Genoa managed to climb up a spot in the standing and showed signs of life. Their first moves on the transfer market were bringing back on loan former goalkeeper and academy product Mattia Perin from Juventus, as well as Mattia Destro from Bologna. In particular, Perin’s return to his boyhood club coincided with the benching of Romania’s international Ionut Radu.
Arrived on loan from Inter, the Romanian shot-stopper was guarding Genoa’s goal last season as well and was named their best player, becoming one of the fan favorites. After last year’s performances, both at Genoa and with the Romanian U-21 national team, Inter’s management decided to extend the young goalkeeper’s loan at Genoa, so that he could get more playing time and eventually be ready to fill in Samir Handanovic’s huge gloves in the following years.
A fan favorite in his native Romania, Radu had an excellent display in last summer’s U-21 Euro, captaining his side to the Semifinals of the tournament despite being considered an underdog. In the first half of the 2019-20 season, he seemed to continue his great form with multiple stops worth a spot in the Serie A best saves highlights reel.
Even though Genoa has the most goals conceded this season along with Lecce, it mostly falls to the Rossoblu’s poor defense rather than to the young goalkeeper. Most Genoa faithful agree that if it weren’t for Radu, the record could have been much worse. Thus, Nicola’s decision to bring in Mattia Perin, once one of the most hyped young goalkeepers of Italy, seems to be at least strange.
Having played just nine official games in the past two years, it’s no surprise that Juventus had no problem with letting him go, preferring to rely on club legend Gianluigi Buffon and youth-club product Carlo Pinsoglio as back-ups for undisputed starter Wojciech Szczesny. In all fairness to Perin, his lack of game-time also came due to the fact he has had an unlucky streak of injuries, inclusing a shoulder injury that required surgery and caused him to fail the Benfica medical, missing out on a move to the Portuguese giants last summer.
It looks like nothing besides his love for the club would recommend him to be taking care of Genoa’s goal, but manager Nicola made it clear that in his eyes, Mattia Perin will be his first-choice goalkeeper. He motivated his decision by stating that he likes to work with players he knows well and that Perin is one of them – even though the Latina-born goalie has never played under him before.
Ionut Radu’s agent made it clear that the player won’t stay and be the second choice to Perin, so it looks like the young Romanian will be pursuing his career elsewhere. He also stated that he is disappointed with Genoa’s decision and that the club showed a lack of respect for his client and the work he has put in for the past years. First rumors about Radu’s future have been linking him with a move to Hellas Verona, in exchange for defender Marash Kumbulla, or a return to his parent-club Inter.
One thing is for sure, Mattia Perin will be Genoa’s number 1 for the second half of the season, and Ionut Radu will have to find a place where he can continue growing. As controversial a move this may seem, the deal might end up suiting both parties. But I guess we will just have to wait and see the unfolding of events.