[dropcap]M[/dropcap]odest Serie A side Parma have had contrasting fortunes over the last 20 years, with the club currently battling to maintain their top-flight status.
In days gone by, the Stadio Ennio Tardini outfit could call on the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Hernán Crespo and Lilian Thuram, with I Crociati winning a number of Coppa Italia titles and two UEFA Cups in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Fast forward to the current day and the international superstars are in short supply and the club are in danger of losing their place in the Italian top flight.
At the time of writing, Parma sit bottom of the Serie A table with a lowly nine points from their fist 19 games of the 2014-15 season.
Roberto Donadoni’s men looks odds-on to be relegated to Serie B after a woeful campaign, with over-reliance on ageing striker Antonio Cassano to get the team goals.
Despite the fact that the side have conceded a whopping 41 goals this season, a division high, attacking reinforcements in the January transfer window offer up a reason for optimism for the club’s fans.
Three international players have been added since the turn of the year, with the club’s owners clearly doing all they can to give the team the best chance possible of an unlikely salvation act.
Antonio Nocerino, Silvestre Varela and Cristian Rodríguez have all been brought to the Stadio Ennio Tardini on loan, with high hopes placed on the trio’s shoulders.
Italy international midfielder Nocerino has joined from AC Milan and has a point to prove after seeing his career stagnate over the last 12 to 18 months.
However, Nocerino was underused last season and was loaned out to West Ham United as a result, with an underwhelming stint in London not the answer to the player’s woes.
This season Milan sent the versatile midfielder to Torino, but Nocerino only made two league starts before switching to Parma earlier this month.
He has already made his debut for Donadoni’s men in the 2-0 defeat to Sampdoria last weekend and although short of recent action will bring experience and tenacity to the heart of the Parma side.
Portugal international winger Varela has become something of a journeyman, with the 29-year-old’s best form shown over a couple of years in the Porto first team.
The sprightly attacker is still on the Estádio do Dragão outfit’s books and moves to Parma after an unsuccessful six-month loan spell at West Brom.
Varela can be hit-and-miss at times but the Crociati faithful will hope that a run of games in their side will see the Portuguese regain some confidence, as on his day he can be a match-winner.
With Parma being robbed of scintillating winger Jonathan Biabiany this season due to health concerns, Varela seems like a ready-made replacement.
Finally, Rodríguez brings plenty of European and international experience to the club and is another player that will relish the prospect of regular action for his new team.
The 83-times capped Uruguay international has featured for some prestigious European clubs but has never really found himself playing every week since leaving South America in 2005.
Rodríguez has been frozen out at Atlético Madrid of late but has shown on occasion for his country that he is a player of quality. He will add speed and incision in the final third that Parma have been lacking this season.
Should Parma escape the drop it will be a real surprise given their terrible early season form, but the addition of three experienced international players will lift the squad’s morale and add some much-needed quality to a struggling side.
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