Of the eleven players that took the pitch during Genoa’s 3-1 defeat at Sassuolo on the final matchday of the 2014/15 season, just four still remain at the club. The rest, whether departing following the end of loan spells or lured away by bigger teams, no longer wear the red & blue of the Grifoni.
The stars of last season, M’baye Niang, Alessandro Matri, Andrea Bertolacci, and Iago Falque have all gone their separate ways, with Diego Perotti close to an exit as well. Losing a stellar crew like that will put a big dent in any hopes of achieving the heights of last season for Genoa, and all signs point to the club languishing in the middle of the table come May of next year. Despite the multitude of players departing the club, Genoa have only made around €16 million in transfer fees. Genoa finished sixth in the league last season, but were denied a UEFA licence which forbid them to participate in the Europa League. The lost Europa League revenue (even if it was not significant) puts the team in a position where it has to both patch up the holes and not go deep into the red. The club’s transfers so far, culminating with the signing of Goran Pandev on a bosman free transfer this past Tuesday, are signs of a successful ongoing reconstruction.
Coming back to Italy after a year-long spell in Turkey with Galatasaray, Pandev arrives as an experienced and proven Serie A striker. Though not exactly a 20 goals a season forward, Pandev is a fantastic complement to fellow new permanent arrival Leonardo Pavoletti, who last season scored six times for Genoa after being loaned from Sassuolo in January. A supporting striker by trade, Pandev would be the link between Genoa’s midfield and Pavoletti, playing the Italian forward on with brilliant passes. This does not mean the Macedonian would shy away from finding the net himself, and with a bit of luck duo could be scoring 20-25 goals between the two of them, not only giving the Grifoni a nice return but alleviating the pressure to produce from one man.
Furthermore, Pandev’s invaluable experience as a title-winning striker would bring a wealth of knowledge to a team lacking many veteran players to keep the squad together, and with a rocky season looming, the forwards in particular need an experienced man to keep them in line and prevent any major loss of confidence.
The aforementioned Pavoletti himself is also a fantastic buy. After a successful end to his Genoa loan spell in which he scored six times in ten matches (including five straight), his temporary club jumped at the opportunity to bring the 26-year-old in permanently, signing him on to a five-year contract at the earliest opportunity. A cheap buy at just €3 million, Pavoletti is a cost-effective and exciting purchase for the Genovese club, whose fans can rest easier knowing they have a club-proven goalscorer on the books for the foreseeable future. If Pavoletti continues with his blistering performances, Genoa could have a stellar front man for years to come.
Darko Lazovic is another quality attacking option. Brought in on a free from Red Star Belgrade, the Serbian international enjoyed a multi-year stint of excellent form that culminated in last season’s haul of 10 goals and five assists from the right flank, highlighting the wingers goal threat despite playing in a more conservative role. Though leaning towards being a forward more so than a supporting player, he was used quite effectively by his former club to channel offensive plays through. With big shoes to fill following star man Iago Falque’s departure to Roma, Genoa must hope that their new arrival can recreate some of the magic their Spaniard wove last year. With two strikers seemingly locked in up front, Lazovic will have to put aside his slightly selfish tendencies to benefit the team, perhaps lowering his goal count while raising his overall team contribution. Though if Lazovic’s form the past few years says anything about his future in Italy, it is that the 24-year-old will enjoy a long and prolific spell, perhaps one day giving his new team a tidy financial windfall.
On the defensive side, new loanee Diogo Figueiras, while not the ideal signing in his position, nonetheless remains an important one. The Sevilla-owned fullback did not have the best of campaigns with the current Europa League holders, and at Genoa by all accounts should be nothing more than a reserve option. If coach Gian Piero Gasperini opts to continue fielding his widely successful 3-4-3 Figueiras will be a quality bench player, and if the back line is shifted to four men, the Portuguese right back will be a solid backup to recently returned Mario Sampirisi, who by all accounts should start ahead of his positional compatriot. Though he might not end up playing much, Figueiras brings defensive depth, and for a team not looking to outscore opponents each and every game, having a lot of options at the back is welcomed.
Perhaps most importantly, Genoa much shovel off its dead weight. With the new arrivals and returning loanees, Genoa have nearly ten attackers on the books. That is far too many for any team, and for a mid table side with limited finances it could prove to be disasterous. Sales must be made, and with Diego Perotti edging towards an exit, his sale coupled with the departures of several other unneeded players could see the Grifoni receive another €15 million, which when put together with already received fees could be enough for the team to rebuild. Genoa’s sun has not yet set, and with a little luck in the market, this summer could usher in a new golden age for the Ligurian club.