The contract sagas of German Pezzella and Nikola Milenković are well documented, both on this site and elsewhere. For those who are out of the loop, the center-back duo both have just a year remaining on their contact. The Viola would be remiss to let either walk for nothing, so it’s expected that at least one will move on this summer, albeit for different reasons. While fans would love to see Milenković sign a contract extension and stay, Pezzella’s poor play last season signaled that it may be in the best interest of both parties to move on. Factoring in Vincenzo Italiano’s high-press, possession-oriented system, which does not suit Pezzella’s game, makes a move only more likely.
Let’s start with Pezzella. Both Niccolò Ceccarini and Nicolo Schira, two reliable Viola reporters, have signaled in recent days that Pezzella is high upon Atalanta’s list as a potential replacement for Cristian Romero, who’s in the sights of Tottenham Hotspur for a whopping €55 million.
Per il post Romero c’è anche German Pezzella nella lista dell’Atalanta— Niccolò Ceccarini (@NickCecca) July 24, 2021
Pezzella’s agent, Martin Guastadisegno, was at the Davide Astori sports center just this morning, adding more fuel to the fire. No figures have been reported for a potential transfer fee, although I’d expect €8-10 million to be enough for the deal to get done. Schira does say that Atalanta is not the only club interested, as would be expected for an Argentine international. Pezzella’s fit into the Nerazzurri is slightly puzzling, as I can’t picture our captain making those same bombing runs forward ala Rafael Toloi. In addition, his ball-playing ability isn’t good enough for Gian Piero Gasperini. We’ll have to see where this one goes, but there sure is a lot of smoke.
On the flipside, Romero’s potential move also holds Milenkovic’s future in the balance. Atalanta and Spurs are reportedly still far apart in negotiations over a transfer fee, although personal terms have been agreed. While Manchester United’s imminent purchase of Raphael Varane and Chelsea’s pursuit of Jules Kounde will likely push Spurs into a heavy purchase, Fabrizio Romano has reported that the Mountain is high on Spurs’ shortlist should the deal fall through.
Tottenham still in negotiation for Cristian Romero but no agreement yet on €55m fee - he’s the priority. 100%. ⚪️ #THFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 26, 2021
Plan B: open talks to sign 3 different defenders with same amount. Tomiyasu [€18m], Milenkovic [€15m] and Zouma [€25m].
Caleta-Car, NOT even an option.
The major news here is not Spurs’ interest, rather it’s that price tag. €15 million? We all know Milenkovic didn’t have the greatest season last year, but at that price, it’s worth considering keeping him around for another season just for the stability he’d provide. I do suspect Romano’s mouthpiece for this information is the new Spurs Director of Football Fabio Paratici, which could mean this is a hopeful price rather than a negotiated one. Regardless, interest in Nicky is lower than last season, when multiple offers of €25 million+ were reported. His situation reiterates the necessity of renewing Dusan Vlahovic’s contract, who has two years left on his deal.
Should Pezzella and Milenkovic both leave, Lucas Martinez Quarta and Igor would be the presumable starters at the back. Rumors have it that the Viola has locked up Matija Nastasic as a low-cost replacement should Pezzella leave, while it’s also been floated that Verona’s Matteo Lovato is an option. For all it’s worth, I think this would be a great double-swap for Fiorentina should it happen, adding more ball-playing ability and an Italian youth international with great potential to two already promising defenders. We’ll have to wait and see, however, but it sure looks like the Viola’s Mercato is about to kick into gear with August around the corner.