Serie A Preview: Udinese

Friday, August 29, 2008

The well remunerated sales of Gyan Asamoah to Rennes and Andrea Dossena to Liverpool have been sufficient to fend off the much feared sale of their star players. This means that for the first time in a long while Udinese can go into a season with confidence that they can build on a side that promised so much last year.

Not that they haven’t been tempted. Arsenal were only one of a host of clubs to show an interest in Gokhlan Inler whilst defender Christian Zapata already has already caught the attention of some of Europe’s biggest teams.

Yet, as long as the bank balance is healthy enough and the offers not big enough, then Udinese were more than happy to resist. As in Udinese tradition, to that squad they’ve added a host of semi-unknowns from around the globe. The gigantic Swiss defender Alain Nef has been brought from Piacenza, striker Alexis Sanchez from River Plate and Serbian midfielder Dusan Basta from Red Star Belgrade.

Neither one of those three is likely to start the season as a regular in the excellent Pasquale Marino’s starting eleven. One player who should, however, is the twenty two year old Argentine Fernando Tissone who Udinese got from Atalanta and who will be replacing Dossena. With the Italian youth international Marco Motta slotting in at right-back after arriving from Torino and Luigi Sala offering back up as well as experience, it is starting to look that Udinese have the strength and depth to cause a few upsets.

Key Man: Hype would point at either Fabio Quagliarella or Antonio Di Natale but the man that Udinese would really struggle to do without is Gokhan Inler. Last season the little known Swiss midfielder easily slotted into the gap left by the departing Sulley Muntari where his tactical diligence and technical ability promptly shone through.

Best bit of business: In co-ownership with Atalanta, both clubs were desperate to sign the other’s half of Fernando Tissone yet it was Udinese who won out when the two clubs bid in a silent auction. The Argentine had impressed with the Bergamo club last season and Udinese had long since earmarked him as the potential replacement for Dossena.

Keep an eye out for… Alexis Sanchez. In a revealing story of how Udinese manage to find so many exceptional players, Sanchez was spotted playing for Chilean side Cobreloa back in 2005 when he was just seventeen. Udinese promptly signed him up and then loaned him out first to Colo Colo and then to River Plate. He did well enough with both to confirm that he was good enough to play in Europe so this summer he made his way to Italy despite River’s best attempts to retain him. So, when in twelve months’ time Udinese opt to sell either one of Quagliarella or Di Natale, there will be a ready made replacement waiting.

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