Smart Transfers: Hellas Verona
As the winter transfer window has drawn to a close, we will use Smarterscout’s advanced metrics and league benchmarking to assess the transfer business of selected teams that caught our eye.
Serie A relegation-battlers Hellas Verona have had quite the busy winter, as they have been more active in the window than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues. They were rather forced into action as about ten of their squad members – including some key players such as Cyril Ngonge, Isak Hien, and Josh Doig – left for teams higher up in the Serie A table.
Verona ended up making several permanent signings and struck a couple of loan deals, almost overhauling their squad as they entered the second half of the season. As they sit level on points with the team in 19th place at the time of writing, they will need to see some instant impact if they are to stay up.
Karol Świderski (from Charlotte FC)
Starting with strikers, an interesting move Hellas Verona made saw them sign Karol Świderski from MLS side Charlotte FC.
His job will involve replacing the goals of the likes of Ngonge and Milan Đurić, but our model does not consider attacking output and shooting to be among his strengths. The Polish striker’s link-up play and passing toward goal should prove handy, though, so he could be used as a more well-rounded attacker.
In terms of the translation of his performances from MLS to a tougher league in Serie A, our model suggests there isn’t cause for much concern. The level he has shown in the last two years has been just off the Serie A benchmark, which should be fine enough for a relegation-battling side.
Elayis Tavsan (from NEC Nijmegen)
Besides the 27-year-old Świderski, Hellas Verona’s attacking signings have all been young players. Among them is Elayis Tavsan, who has shown some promising glimpses as a right winger for NEC Nijmegen.
His attacking output does need work, but the 22-year-old Dutchman has the underlying qualities to improve in that respect. Dribbling is his standout quality, but it is equally impressive to note that he can maintain a good level of ball retention at the same time thanks to his strength in ground duels.
Add to that Tavsan’s high-volume shooting as he loves to cut inside and fire with his preferred left foot, and you start to see the signs of a promising player. Of course, he will need to adapt to the Italian game, but he has the potential to prove to be a good signing for the present as well as the future.
Tijjani Noslin (from Fortuna Sittard)
Hellas Verona certainly seem to have been keenly scouting the Eredivisie, as they also signed Tijjani Noslin from the league. He has not enjoyed a great deal of game time in the last couple of seasons and has been used in a fair few roles ranging from right winger to attacking midfielder, so it is tough to guess where exactly Verona plan to use him.
This season, he has spent the majority of his time on the pitch as an attacking midfielder. He too is a player whose attacking output could use some improvement, but also has signs that might make him a good fit for his new side. Most notable among those is his aerial presence, which should suit Verona’s long ball-based style quite well.
At the age of 24, Noslin still has a good deal of time to keep improving as he enters his peak years. However, Verona will also want an instant impact from him having spent €3 million for his signature, but our model is not so positive about that.
Stefan Mitrović (from Crvena zvezda)
On the left wing, another youngster Verona have brought in is Stefan Mitrović from Serbia.
He was a pretty well-rated talent at Crvena zvezda as he came through their ranks, but his senior career has not taken off quite as well as many might have hoped. There are a good few factors behind that, including things such as how suited he was to the team’s playing style.
Mitrović’s numbers in his two favoured roles – left winger and left wing-back – paint the picture of a pretty direct attacking threat. Although he has shown exceptionally good ball retention, his stylistic tendencies clearly show a preference to dribble, get forward through link-up play and consistently get into the penalty area.
All of these are very promising signs for a 21-year-old, so it seems he just needs to add good attacking output to fulfil his potential. Taken individually, this makes him a good signing for Verona, but given the fact that we have said the same thing about all three of their attacking attackers, one wonders if they have leaned into potential rather than current quality too much.
Dani Silva (from Vitória SC)
Moving on to the midfield, Dani Silva is the only addition to a part of the squad that includes more experienced players such as Suat Serdar and Martin Hongla.
Silva seems a solid addition whose job will be to add more stability to allow more attack-minded partners such as Ondrej Duda to flourish when he is sent out on the pitch. He has shown great strength in duels both in the ground and air in Portugal, and his defending has been solid both in terms of quality and quantity.
The Portuguese midfielder is not one who will stand out too much on the ball, though he can keep things ticking decently well. His poor ball retention might be a cause for concern, so that is the first aspect of his game which will need to improve in Italy.
Fabien Centonze (from Nantes)
Having gone big on youth up front, Verona have tried to balance things out by bringing in more experienced defenders. At right back, Fabien Centonze has been loaned in as a reinforcement from Nantes.
The 28-year-old defender has proven himself as a consistently solid presence in the last few seasons in France, both at Metz and Nantes. He has shown good defensive quality and can also pose some attacking threat, so he has all the qualities a team like Hellas Verona would want in their full-backs.
Having seen two right-backs leave in this window, the Gialloblu clearly needed someone in this position. Given the fact that Centonze has seen very little game time at Nantes this season, this move makes perfectly good sense from his perspective as well.
Rúben Vinagre (from Sporting)
On the opposite side of the defense, Rúben Vinagre has also been signed on a loan deal.
The Portuguese defender has been starved of regular game time of late, so he will hope to get his career back on track through this move. There certainly is an opening in the side for him after Josh Doig’s departure.
Vinagre is another defensively solid full-back, with particularly good defending quality. This is a critical attribute for a relegation-battling defense, so we can consider the biggest box ticked.
Since he has also spent time as a wing-back, the Portuguese defender will be able to offer good attacking output from a back-four thanks to his dribbling and link-up passing to get forward.
All things considered, Vinagre seems another solid defensive signing for Verona.
Given the sheer number of players they have lost (for a decent amount of money it should be said as transfer fees brought in close to €45 million in January), Verona’s hand was very much forced in this window. In an ideal world, this level of mid-season turnover in a squad is never a good idea, but after being dealt his hand, Verona’s approach has been quite interesting.
Their defensive record has been decent so far (and relatively better compared to their relegation rivals), so their solid and experienced additions in that department should only make them stronger. The real point of intrigue has to be their heavy investment in young attackers, which could easily yield long-term rewards but might also prove costly in the immediate future. Their attack already was among the worst in the league, so their failure to replace their two top scorers with any noteworthy goal threats could be a problem. Unless someone steps up big time, Verona could well end up regretting this come the end of the season.
At the time of writing, Marco Baroni has already used 31 different players in Serie A this season (including some of these new signings), so the team should be used to a very good deal of chopping and changing. So, they can’t use this flurry of mid-season transfer activity as the main factor behind their struggles, and yet their recruitment in this window might be the difference between staying up and going down.
By Neel Shelat