This isn’t the way Cagliari, nor Nahitan Nandez for that matter, wanted the season to begin.
After a home draw with Spezia and a 4-1 thumping at AC Milan, the Rossoblu must have felt they had turned a corner when Luca Ceppitelli put them two goals up against Bologna last weekend.
But just 22 minutes later the game had turned on it’s head, Cagliari going from two up to 3-2 down in the blink of an eye.
And so another season of struggle, recriminations and shocking levels of underperformance appears to have commenced.
Manager Leonardo Semplici was sacked this week, three games into the season. How long his replacement, former Inter Milan and Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri, lasts is anyone’s guess given Cagliari have now appointed five managers since March 2020.
Nahitan Nandez must be wishing he’d left Cagliari for Arsenal – or anywhere
A penny for Nandez’s thoughts, then.
The versatile, hard-running Uruguay international is just one of a handful of big-name players limping along at a side performing far worse than the sum of its parts.
And, if he’d got his way, Nandez would have left Sardinian soil long ago, training alone earlier in the summer as part of a desperate attempt to force a move that never arrived. He obviously saw what was coming – another year where one of Serie A’s better squads would struggle to live up to expectations.
According to La Repubblica, Nandez rejected West Ham and Arsenal in the belief more attractive offers would arrive (and he may have had a point regarding the Gunners at the moment).
But Leeds United, long-time admirers of the former Boca Juniors ace, failed to stump up the £30 million Cagliari wanted while Tottenham Hotspur, despite holding talks with Nandez in August, also hit a brick wall in their pursuit of the all-action midfielder.
“Nandez wanted to join a top club. He had talks with Inter, Tottenham, Roma and Napoli. It’s normal he thought he could leave,” admitted Cagliari sporting director Stefano Capozucca.
“Nandez, however, is also a spectacular boy as well as a great player. He will give his all for Cagliari.”
Unless Mazzarri can whip a squad containing Diego Godin, Martin Caceres, Keita Balde Diao and Kevin Strootman into shape, Nandez’s “all” might not be enough.