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FOOTBALL

Italy’s Serie A slashes spending on January transfers

Italy's Serie A hit a five-year low for spending during a frugal January transfer window which closed Wednesday night with ten times less cash splashed than in the English Premier League.

Italy's Serie A slashes spending on January transfers
Genoa's Pietro Pellegri (R) was one of two major Italian sales in January. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Muted big-name transfers such as Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore to Inter Milan from Paris Saint-Germain never materialised with Italian clubs spending an estimated €50 million – less than the English second tier.

The figure was half that spent last season and a five-year low, putting Italian football just ninth for money spent during the global transfer market, after the record €1 billion spent by Italy's top clubs during the summer of 2017.

Premier League clubs went on a spending spree with a record £430 million (€492 million) forked out – nearly double the previous record of £225 million, according to accountancy firm Deloitte's.

But Serie A champions Juventus and Roma (both still in the Champions League), Inter Milan, Lazio, AC Milan and Napoli all opted against big money moves.

Inter Milan took Lisandro Lopez from Benfica and Barcelona's Rafinha on loan, with Roma signing defender Jonathan Silva on loan from Sporting Lisbon.

There were two major Italian sales, with Genoa's 16-year-old striker Pietro Pellegri heading for Monaco on a €25-million deal and left-back Emerson Palmieri leaving Roma for Chelsea for €29 million.

“We made the sales we needed to,” said Roma sporting director Monchi. “The sale of Emerson, who has played one game, to Chelsea is testament to the quality of the squad.”

Napoli's move for Matteo Politano from Serie A rivals Sassuolo fell through at the final hour with Fiorentina trading Senegalese striker Khouma Babacar for Sassuolo's Diego Falcinelli on loan.

Sassuolo were the biggest spenders in Italy with €8 million on 11 purchases, followed by Fiorentina and Cagliari, and Serie B sides Pescara and Brescia.

However, troubled SPAL and Benevento were among the most spendthrift as they hunt Serie A football again next season.

La Liga was just behind the Premier League with €271 million spent, which included Philippe Coutinho's €160-million move from Liverpool to Barcelona.

FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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