Getting to improve a team is something that, for most of us, only happens in Football Manager (except for davih). It's not surprising, then, that the transfer market, with its nebulous swirl of options and rumors, is really its own sporting event separate from any actual football. The drama and intrigue are perhaps more in line with, say, Downton Abbey than the Artemio Franchi, but we still get a big kick out of tracking the rumors.
Let's start with the current squad and a truly absurd rumor. This one claims that Napoli still covet Matías Vecino, and are willing to offer former Fiorentina target Alberto Grassi along with a staggering €18 million to get him. Given that the Partenopei just paid €10 million for the former Atalanta defensive midfielder, it seems rather unlikely.
Next, we'll look at a couple of goalkeeper rumors. Let's start with a bang, shall we? Alfredo Pedulla reports that la Viola's months-long flirtation with Salvatore Sirigu of PSG is bearing (admittedly uncertain) fruit. There's a chance that the 29-year-old Azzuro could sign in the summer, as his contract ends in 2018 and the French club could look to profit on him before he leaves on a Bosman.
Oddly enough, though, the senior Italian international isn't the top target. That honor is reserved for Atalanta's 23-year-old Marco Sportiello, who's been La Dea's number one for the past two seasons. He'd probably be a lot cheaper than Sirigu, and (assuming he didn't bolt) would be able to mind the sticks for the next decade or so.
Next up is old friend Marc Bartra. The 25-year-old Barcelona centerback has never broken through for the Catalan giants, starved as they are of central defenders, and is linked to yearly moves away. He was supposedly a target in the last window, but Fiorentina ran out of time to hammer out a deal. Take it with a grain of salt, though: he's been a "target" for the past couple of years, and Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are also interested.
Next up is Genoa striker Leonardo Pavoletti. The 27-year-old striker is enjoying a career year for the Grifoni, piling up 10 goals in 15 league appearances, despite missing three matches for a red card and the past month with a thigh injury. More of a big target man than anything else, he was apparently the subject of interest from both Milan clubs and Fiorentina during the winter market, and Genoa claim that they rejected a €16 million bid for him. With Nikola Kalinić, Khouma Babacar, and Mauro Zárate on the books, as well as Giuseppe Rossi returning at the end of the year, we can safely file this one in the "Agent posturing for a raise" file.
Let's save the biggest one for last. João Carlos Teixeira is a 23-year-old Portuguese attacking midfielder who plies his trade for Liverpool. Stuck behind Coutinho and Roberto Firmino for the Merseysiders, he's given out the impression that he wants to leave. The news leaked out early last week that Fiorentina had approached the player and club to get a pre-window agreement in place. Over the next several days, word trickled out that all parties had agreed to terms for the "new Deco," with an announcement to be made this week. Now both sides are claiming that the deal was all an illusion, and that Teixeira will stick it out with Liverpool.