If nothing else, we have to give Alfredo Pedullà some kind of partial credit for his apparent hard work and consistency, two of the most sought-after qualities in the world of football. Unfortunately that does mean that he gives an endless deluge of updates, progress reports, hot days, summits, indiscretions, backgrounds, briefings, and anything and everything that may constitute an intermediate step between the genesis of a rumor and it eventual resolution.
But we can’t ignore him, at least not yet, since he was dead right about Maurizio Sarri (and Jorginho, too), even if he cried wolf repeatedly about the timeline — plus, he’s not been called out as a liar by Karim Benzema, unlike the other Italian Oracle, Gianluca Di Marzio. That Pedulla has pinned his tweet about Sarri and Jorginho to the top of his Twitter timeline, operates a website named after himself, stamped his header with a “quality guarantee” means that he’s either knee-deep in the meta and woke to the Game of Tancredi — BOOM — or he’s even deeper into the self-aggrandizement than we had initially believed, which surely should lead us to question his motives and integrity. But all that is perhaps a discussion for another day.
Let’s see what Pedullà’s peddling this time.
Right now, he’s relentlessly pursuing the Daniele Rugani-to-Chelsea story. Again, he’s unshakeable in his belief that Chelsea are seeking a deal and will probably close it. Again, he’s butchering the timeline — after all, per his reporting Rugani was supposed to be in London by now, having already joined up with the squad in Australia.
Undeterred, Pedullà is enthusiastically following the itinerary of the recently-peripatetic Marina Granovskaia as she (presumably) tries to close the deal for the Juventus centre-back. On Wednesday he had her in Milan to meet with Juve’s sporting director Fabio Paratici (and maybe Milan’s new sporting director, Leonardo, about a Morata deal). On Thursday, she was on the move again, he says.
Now, the Emperor’s Hand is on the French Riviera, where Nice is about to become the nexus of our footballing universe. Granovskaia is there. Abramovich and his star destroyer are supposedly there (his yacht is, for sure). Paratici will supposedly be there on Saturday. And so will the Chelsea squad, for Saturday’s International Champions Cup tilt against Inter, which means Sarri will be available for meetings as well.
In these meetings, Chelsea will work on a double-transfer, says Pedullà. We’re keen to buy Rugani, who isn’t looking to leave and whom Juve aren’t looking to sell. Juve are more than keen to unload Albatross Higuaín however, who’s weighing down their post-Cristiano Ronaldo balance sheet with outrageous wages that he’s due for the next three years still. They would no doubt love to recoup some of his €90m transfer fee, too.
The proposed deal is Rugani + Higuaín for €100m. That represents a bargain of sorts, because the Old Lady had been setting prices north of €55m for the defender and upwards of €60m for the striker. So we’re talking about a “savings” of €15m for the good guys — classic marketing, really, selling a savings of 10-15% by getting you to spend money on things you don’t need in the first place! We would however get a happy coach apparently, even if this one claims he’s bored by the transfer market, because the rumor mill has also insisted that Sarri would like to have the striker who excelled for him at Napoli, despite his relatively advanced 30 years of age.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. The reason Higuain is on the market is because he’s a pricey bugger. His wages at Juventus are estimated to be €7.7m (post-tax). That’s equivalent to roughly £260k per week (pre-tax), guaranteed through the 2021 season, more than any player has ever gotten paid at Chelsea. For a man who may well be past his prime and whose production declined last season (although some argue that circumstances — a weak midfield — forced him to drop deeper and away from the danger zone) that’s an awfully large financial commitment, especially for a club that’s been dedicated to minding its p’s and q’s and counting every penny.
This time, Alfredo Pedullà has avoided predicting when a deal would be struck. Given his track record, maybe that’s a promising sign?
Only two more weeks of this nonsense to go.