SCENE: Deep in the bowels of the Centro Davide Astori, Pantaleo Corvino has summoned Stefano Pioli to his office to discuss transfer strategy. The curtain rises on Pantaleo, seated behind a massive desk on a raised platform in the center of the stage. There is a shrine in one corner with an incense burner and pictures of Valeri Bojinov, Stevan Jovetić, and Adem Ljajic. Nearby stands a life-size statue of Dimitar Berbatov, impaled through the heart by a javelin. Otherwise the room is empty and very, very dark, with just a single overhead lamp focused on the space directly in front of the desk, leaving Pantaleo in darkness.
STEFANO: [nervous, but trying to hide it] You wanted to see me, Pantaleo?
PANTALEO: Step closer. Step into the light.
STEFANO: [advancing trepidatiously] Uh, sure. Oh, apropos of nothing, it’s super hard to find your office down here. Especially with the pit traps and the dragon that makes you choose one of three doors. How’d you get the Della Valles to approve building you this eldritch fortress from beyond space and time?
[Pause. Pantaleo stares, expressionless. Pioli stops, then continues into circle of light on the floor.]
STEFANO: Oh, is this about what I said the other day about how maybe we shouldn’t declare Petko Hristov and David Hancko as our starters in central defense? Because I’ve thought more about that, and I’m still pretty sure that Germán Pezzella and Vitor Hugo and Nikola Milenković would be a little bit irritated.
PANTALEO: No, it’s not that.
STEFANO: [relieved] Whew. I was worried you were going to carry a grudge about that, haha. Er, then, you’re not mad that I ignored your suggestion in the last friendly to start Dušan Vlahović, Tòfol Montiel, and Nicky Medja over Giovanni Simeone, Federico Chiesa, and Jordan Veretout? I feel like those guys at least deserve a chance to build on last year, because they were pretty impressive, and the kids, well, they’re all good kids, but I’m just not sure they’re ready to go 90 minutes in Serie A yet.
PANTALEO: No, it’s not that.
STEFANO: [relieved, but now a bit more puzzled] Okay, that’s good. That’s cool. Then why did you call me down here? Oh, is it because the Marko Pjaca and Mario Pašalić deals fell through? It’s okay. I mean, I was really excited to see Pjaca combine with Cholito and Fede because they would have been an absolute terror breaking into space, but I understand that Juventus was asking too much and the fans would have been very upset, so yeah, I think that was the right choice to turn them down. And Pašalić, well, I can see how that whole thing at Chelsea with Maurizio Sarri taking over for Antonio Conte would have made it a lot harder to get a deal done. I sure wish Atalanta wasn’t closing in, but you know, when things are chaotic on the other end, this stuff can happen sometimes. I’m not mad. Really, I’m not. I know you’ll find other players, better players for the squad. No, I’m not worried, man. Really.
PANTALEO: No, it’s not that.
STEFANO: [clearly confused at this point] Then I...I’m not sure what you wanted to see me about. What is it, Pantaleo?
[Another long pause. Pioli begins to fidget while Pantaleo continues to sit motionless.]
PANTALEO: I’m working on a deal for a new midfielder right now, but his camp wants assurances that he’ll start at least half the league matches this year.
STEFANO: Um, that’s a bit strange, but I’ll think about it, I guess. Who is this player?
PANTALEO: He’s young. Spanish. Very familiar with Italy.
STEFANO: Pedro Obiang?
[Pantaleo’s eyes widen slightly and his nostrils flare.]
STEFANO: Oh, right. Nevermind. Who is it?
PANTALEO: Alvaro Valero.
STEFANO: Who? [incredulous] Wait, isn’t that Borja Valero’s kid? Who’s, like, six? Seriously? Look, man, I’ve somehow managed to cobble together a not-altogether-terrible lineup out of all these teenagers you keep buying, but this is simply ridiculous. It’s crazy. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal and we could both get in a lot of trouble and frankly, I’m not certain that you’re really suited for this kind of work anymore. If you keep intentionally letting transfer targets move to rival clubs while only ever buying youth-team replacements who nobody’s ever heard of, how can you expect me to put together a team? You’ve gone too far this time, Pantaleo, and when Andrea and Diego hear about this, they’ll...
[Expressionless, Pantaleo pushes a button on his desk. A trapdoor suddenly opens under Stefano, who vanishes with a long, Doppler wail that fades until it’s inaudible. Pantaleo stands and walks to one of the bare walls, where he pushes another, concealed button. The wall turns, revealing row upon row of large glass tanks filled with murky liquid. A hunched figure wearing a white lab coat and surgical mask emerges.]
PANTALEO: That one lasted longer than I expected, but he still wasn’t willing to incorporate toddlers into the setup. Prepare the next clone.
The first preseason friendly against amateur side Val di Fassa went just fine.
Federico Ceccherini is a Viola player. We’re happy? This seemed smart and almost too easy? Something terrible must be approaching.
Three Viola youngsters (well, two youngsters and Amidu Salifu) have joined Serie C outfit Arezzo on loan for the year.
Another Primavera star—goalkeeper Michele Cerofolini—has moved to Serie B’s Cosenza on loan for the year.
Stefano Pioli is weighing up what to do with the numerous talented but unproven young attackers he has at his disposal. Get to know them before they’re too famous.
And finally, another pair of young talents (Gabriele Gori and Luca Ranieri) will play their first seasons as professionals in Serie B with Foggia.
As you may have heard, Cristiano Ronaldo is now a Juventus player. His arrival in Turin during the World Cup final—which sure looks like an attempt to upstage the World Cup final, which is crazy—is exactly what we were talking about here.
Watching Serie A on TV and on devices could be getting a lot easier in the US.
Some of that might be because of Ronaldo’s arrival, so we asked how good for Serie A the Portuguese winger’s new deal is. And yall, as ever, answered.
Haha, we’re totally kidding about Corvino, though. Do you believe us?
This poll is closed
Comment of the week
Mike-R, eagle-eyed as ever, answered a question about the Viola’s Europa League chances by pointing out that the team staff had a Europa League bag.
Then you magnificent, screwball humans gave it the full Viola Nation treatment and I love you all so much.
That’s it for this week, folks.