We spoke to Aaron Giambattista about Emanuele Giaccherini, Sunderland's profile in Italy and the Altidore effect on the club's image in the USA. Aaron is an American based co-founder of the biggest English speaking Juventus community on the internet, JuventiKnows.com.
First up, as a co-founder of Juventiknows, what can you tell us about the strengths of new signing, Giaccherini?
Aaron Giambattista: Giaccherini is a man who will always give everything for his team. He's a passionate player, who despite not having a big reputation before arriving at Juventus, quickly won over the fans. It's that tenacity that's led him to the top of world football, at age 22 he was in the Italian 4th division and a bad injury nearly led him to quit football and become a factory worker. 2 years later he was playing in Serie A for the first time, and won a transfer to Juventus just a year later. He's a decent dribbler with incredible endurance and a lot of versatility- he can play pretty much anywhere on the pitch except as a center-back. Giaccherini played as a striker/winger for his former club Cesena, a center midfielder for Juventus, but made his international debut as a wingback against Spain. From the 4th division to his first international call up, all in 2 years.
And are there any weaknesses to his game?
AG: Giac likes to see a lot of the ball, but he can be wasteful, especially on counter-attacks. He occasionally overdribbles and doesn't have a very good shot from outside of the box. Solid finisher once inside the 18', however.
I've seen some mixed reactions on Twitter from various Italian supporters to the reported fee. Is he worth the money, or like Alan Smith when he left Manchester United for Newcastle, did his international caps do Conte a favour and bump his price somewhat before the move?
AG: I think the fee is a very accurate valuation of his ability. The international caps certainly bumped his fee up, but mostly because he didn't get much playing time this past season.
Giaccherini joins Italian compatriot Paolo Di Canio at the Stadium of Light, as well as former Lazio man Modibo Diakite. Has this Serie A connection increased Sunderland's profile in Italy?
AG: Italian supporters, probably not, but Juventus fans might. Giaccherini became a fan favorite, despite being a reserve nearly his entire time at Juve. I think most Juventus fans will at least keep up with Sunderland enough to follow Giaccherini and see how he's doing.
Recent signing Jozy Altidore has seen Sunderland making moves to tap into the American market too. Is that something that could happen in Italy too, albeit on a different scale?
AG: I think there's great value in Italy, much as Newcastle profited from French players, Sunderland can get a lot of Italian talent for relatively cheap. Sunderland should keep looking in Serie A, as the players tend to be fairly rated by the clubs unless a Sheikh is interested. Key example- Stephan Lichtsteiner and Angelo Ogbonna cost Juventus a combined ₤20 million. One is arguably one of the best fullbacks in world football, and the other is probably Italy's center back with the highest potential.
Speaking of the States, I noticed you're based over there yourself. Have you noticed any increased attention being paid to Sunderland over there since the Altidore signing?
AG: To be honest, soccer still is not a big thing here. There may have been a few news flashes about Altidore, but mostly about the fee paid. That could certainly change though, Sunderland picked a good time to sign him. This upcoming Premier League season will be the first time the league is on a national broadcaster, no longer relegated to cable or satellite channels. If Altidore has a good season, Sunderland will certainly get a growing profile in America like Fulham enjoyed due to Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey.
Thanks to Aaron for providing excellent insight into Giaccherini and all things Sunderland abroad. Check out the superb JuventiKnows.com HERE and follow them on Twitter @JuventiKnows HERE. For Further musings on Juve and Calcio in general, follow Aaron @agiamba HERE