Palermo: A Chance To ShineBy: LorenzoRosanero | February 10th, 2011
The one and only Steven has written a fantastic article documenting the great deals Palermo have made over the years to pick up relatively cheap and unknown talent. Not only that, but the club has been a safe-haven for castaways to turn around their careers. Let’s examine Steven’s article below:
It’s a strange sensation, being a Palermo fan. First of all, you have to get used to dealing with a crazy president. Second, you’ll have to learn to live with big names being thrown around during every transfer window without any of them ever showing up: Hernanes, Nilmar, Defour, Rossi… these are just some of the bigger/more talented names we have seen passing by in the last couple of years. But no, rather, we bring in unknown players, unproven youngsters and guys that are forgotten elsewhere. And you know what? It’s working out. Palermo has crafted a fantastic team out of guys no one would ‘ve ever believed they could pull off a 5th place finish and almost reach the Champions’ League. Here’s a quick look at our team as it is, just to prove to you guys Palermo doesn’t need big name signings to perform. Most of these stories are well-known, but I just want you guys to remember what players who once were called ‘average’ can do when well-managed.
Totò came over from Venezia’s youth system and was called up for the first team a couple of times in 2006. Seeing as guys like Fontana, Amelia, Agliardi and Rubinho were between the posts during the last three seasons, Sirigu was loaned out to the lower divisions. But, aside from being enormously talented, the universe decided to help the Sardinian a bit. Fontana retired and Amelia and Rubinho (who were brought in to become the best keepers in Italy) decided they wanted to have the worst seasons in their careers and so Walter Zenga gave Sirigu his first chance in Serie A. One and a half years later, he’s the undisputed starter for Palermo, one of the best keepers in Serie A and a future shoe-in for the Azzurri. Youth product.
Most of us don’t really like his playing style or his lack of talent, but there’s no point in denying Bovo has been a key player in the last couple of years. Seeing as Zamparini didn’t want to invest in someone to replace Moris and Kjaer, the formerly unwanted Bovo saw this as a chance to step up his game. After being signed in a co-ownership deal while at Roma, Cesare just played one season in Palermo before being loaned out to Torino and being sold again in a co-ownership deal with Genoa. So much for his time at Palermo, or so it seemed. Impressing at Genoa, the team bought him back and he’s been a key player ever since. Unwanted by own team.
Cassani came up from Juve’s youth ranks, before being sold in a co-ownership deal to Hellas Verona. After Calciopoli, Juve was terminating all those deals, either buying players outright or selling them. And so Cassani went to Hellas as Juve didn’t think they’d have need for him. After more than 100 games for Hellas, he went to Palermo and is now the most capped player for Palermo in Serie A. Unwanted by big team.
Kind of the same story as Cassani, but he grew up in Torino’s youth system. After a bit of wandering around Italy and returning to Torino, Balza signed for Juve. After only two season he was shipped off to Fiorentina, only to sign for Palermo just 6 months later. Quickly became the second part of the dangerous ex-Juve backs and was called up for the national team, alongside Cassani. Has stated he would like to finish his career at Palermo. Unwanted by big team.
Three for three. Nocerino, like Cassani, wasn’t good enough for Juve. Shipped out to Genoa after joing the Juve first team, but even there he was loaned out several times. After one season at Piacenza, he was sent to Palermo as part of the Amauri deal. No one really wanted him there too, but he quickly became a leading force in Palermo’s midfield and has gotten an Azzurri-call up. Unwanted by big team.
Josip Ilicic & Armin Bacinovic
Two young Slovenes nobody had ever heard of. After a Europa League encounter with Palermo, they were bought because they had impressed in one game. At least, that was the thing that was said. Expecting this to be a new Succi deal, nobody really believed in the duo. But Ilicic quickly showed he was a great attacking midfielder and deadly finisher and Bacinovic managed to work Liverani out of the team. So far, Zampa’s gamble is paying off and both players are already worth a lot more than what Palermo payed for them six months ago. Under the radar.
The undisputed leader of this Palermo is one of the most talented Italian strikers of the last 20 years, but also one that never got a chance at the club that owned him. He was yet another victim of Juve’s inability to value the talent they had in their own team, so he was sold and loaned out a couple of times before being sold completely to Palermo. Coming off mediocre seasons at Benfica, there was fear he wouldn’t be motivated enough to perform. Since then, Micco has scored once in every two games he played and is Palermo’s all-time scorer and a lifelong hero in Palermo. Unwanted by own team.
The absolute proof that Palermo’s system is working. Pastore, after taking Huracan within grasp of the Argentinean title, was wanted by half of Europe’s big clubs. Instead of opting for Real or Chelsea, he chose a small Italian team where youngsters flourish. The rest is history. Pastore was key to last year’s success and has worked great together with Ilicic. He was called up by Maradona and has notched up 7 caps so far. Half of Europe still want him, but they’ll have to pay a lot more than 2 years ago. Deemed a failure, epic success.
Not yet a superstar, but seriously, how many teams would take a gamble on a 19-year old with a heart problem? The jury is still out, but he’s a keeper. Under the radar.
And that’s just the guys that are with us right now. We’re forgetting guys like Amauri, Rinaudo, Grosso, Caserta, Fontana, Kjaer, Brienza… Sure, for every Grosso there’s a Godeas, Maccarone or Farias, but as long as we don’t pay 28 mil for a striker with scoring problems, these guys are worth the gamble. Just look at what guys like Cavani and Kjaer went for…