Milan: Serie A clubs are repeatedly talking of the importance of developing their own talent yet that hasn`t stopped them from heading straight for the transfer window in traditional style.
Tuesday`s meeting of traditional rivals Juventus and Inter Milan and Gianfranco Zola`s debut as a Serie A coach with Cagliari the same day have both been buried among the swirl of rumours and transfer chitchat.
The Italian window officially opens on Monday yet the wheeling and dealing got under way well before Christmas.
AC Milan, first into action, replaced one misfiring striker with another as Spaniard Fernando Torres departed for Atletico Madrid in a swap with Alessio Cerci.
Torres managed one goal in 10 Serie A appearances for Milan while Cerci mustered nine appearances for Atletico and scored one goal following his move from Torino in August.
Inter Milan, meanwhile, are on the point of signing out-of-favour Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski, having already welcomed the German to their training ground.
On Sunday, Gazzetta dello Sport also reported that Juventus had been in touch with Galatatasary over Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder while Inter Milan were said to be in the running for Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri.
The Swiss international has been getting less and less playing time for the Bundesliga champions under Pep Guardiola.
Nearly all the talk has involved players who have fallen out of favour elsewhere, a sad reflection on the state of Serie A which once used to attract the world`s best.
Lazio and Sampdoria, joint third alongside Napoli with 27 points, get the ball rolling on Monday (1945 GMT) as Serie A resumes following a two-week Christmas break.
The other matches are all on Tuesday, a bank holiday, with leaders Juventus hosting Inter (2000), who are languishing in midtable with coach Roberto Mancini repeatedly complaining about the squad he inherited from predecessor Walter Mazzarri.
Second-placed AS Roma, three points behind Juventus, visit Udinese (1130). Coach Rudi Garcia told reporters on Saturday that he was still bitter about Juve’s 3-2 win over his side in September when the hosts were awarded two controversial penalties.
“It’s difficult to erase the feeling of injustice and maybe I won’t succeed in doing that for the rest of the season, or even the rest of my life,” said the Frenchman.
Cagliari, in the relegation zone with only 12 points, visit Palermo for their first match under former West Ham United and Watford coach Zola, who replaced Zdenek Zeman just before Christmas.