Wednesday, December 10 th, 2014
Mission  |   Team  |   Contact Us    
Football migranti. Are Balotelli and Cerci's spells on their last legs?
Since he arrived in Madrid, the ex Torino winger is warming the bench, while Balotelli is still goalless in Premier League and Liverpool is already looking for a striker
by Anthony Pepe
Salvatore Sirigu, Thiago Motta (FC Metz 2-3 Paris-S.G.) The Parisians kicked off this weekend's football with a Friday night encounter away at the Saint-Symphorien stadium. Marco Verratti is unfortunately not yet fit and will not be competing in PSG's Champions League fixture against Ajax in midweek. Sirigu yet again gave an accomplished performance between the posts (unlike his rather shaky outing for Italy against Albania), making one decisive save from a Maïga header to guarantee the points for Paris. That save also prevented a Maïga hat-trick, as Sirigu did concede twice, but both times were from the penalty spot.

Thiago Motta was removed at half-time without having done anything of note; despite remaining a dependable performer for PSG, he is likely to be phased out soon by the promising youngsters available to PSG manager Laurent Blanc. One wonders if his Italy career is also over, Antonio Conte has not yet called him up, despite injuries to Pirlo, Montolivo and Verratti.

This weekend saw Marco Verratti, Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) and Davide Santon (Newcastle United) injured, Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund) rested and Vito Mannone (Sunderland) and Alessio Cerci (Atlético Madrid) seemingly dropped. Fabio Borini (Liverpool) made a brief and anonymous cameo in Liverpool’s disappointing 3-1 defeat away at Crystal Palace.​

Neither Balotelli or Cerci are enjoying their time since their summer transfer, but for different reasons. Balotelli has been a permanent fixture in Brendan Rodgers’ first eleven, starting nearly every game in the league, but he remains goalless in that competition. While he is clearly not solely responsible for Liverpool’s current slump in form, having a lone striker who has notched zero goals has not helped their points tally at all. Whether it is SuperMario or the lack of service from midfield that is the real problem, Liverpool clearly want to buy a striker in January. According to the rumours, they could either pay big money for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuaín or pay a fee to bring the Belgian Divock Origi to the club early. This should not necessarily mean an early end to Balotelli’s Liverpool career but they may wish to offload him to raise the funds for a purchase, while trusting that Sturridge will return from injury.

Alessio Cerci on the other hand, probably wishes he had Balotelli’s problems as at least Mario plays. Cerci has started precisely zero games for the Rojiblancos, appearing in only six games from the bench (one goal in the Champions League). The rumours in Spain are that he arrived from Torino overweight and unfit and that he has struggled to adapt to Simeone’s extreme methods. Considering that Simeone personally pushed for Cerci’s signing, it is unlikely that he will let him go so quickly. It is a shame to see a player as talented as Cerci sitting on the bench, especially for the azzurri, but Cerci will surely have known what awaited him in Madrid and he will have to adapt if he wants to make it at a big club.

Graziano Pellè (Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton). Finally, on Monday night, Pellè started for Southampton after his brief but impressive cameo for Italy against Croatia. Southampton are flying high this season, they are in second place in the Premier League, on a streak of ten wins in their last twelve games (league and cup) and Graziano has been an integral part of Ronald Koeman’s team. Pellè had a decent game without dominating as he has so frequently this season, his performance included his usual array of neat touches, flick ons and hold up play; he wasn’t able, however, to ever test the Villa keeper.

Tuesday, November 25 th, 2014
For discussion of this topic and many more about Serie A, join R/ItalianFootball