Udinese may well profit financially to a pleasant tune due to the sale of their star players this summer, but the respective losses of Christian Zapata, Gokhan Inler and the expected departure of Alexis Sanchez will be hugely detrimental to their results on the pitch if the trio are not adequately replaced.
After it was confirmed earlier in the week that instrumental midfielder Gokhan Inler had completed his move to Serie A rivals Napoli, a deal which sees centre back Christian Zapata join Villarreal has also been agreed.
Add to this the fact that Chilean playmaker Alexis Sanchez is poised to join Zapata in Spain with Champions of Europe Barcelona, and the club are down to the bare bones in terms of resources available both in defence and attack.
The 3 players were ranked 2nd (Sanchez), 3rd (Inler) and 5th (Zapata) according to WhoScored.com ratings and the Italian side will be losing key defensive attributes and options through the loss of the latter two.
The likes of Antonio Di Natale and Mehdi Benatia remain at the club but will be losing their respective partners in Sanchez and Zapata, while Inler was far and away the sides most effective midfielder last term.
Here we will look at why Udinese's preferred formation of playing 3 at the back will inevitably need reinvestment in their defensive options if they want to continue with that system.
Colombian defender Christian Zapata was a mainstay at Udinese last season, missing just 3 matches in a central defensive trio that saw him joined by Benatia and Maurizio Domizzi for much of the campaign. If the club are to keep their system of using 3 centre backs with wing backs on either flank than they will no doubt need to invest to strengthen their threadbare squad.
Outside of the regular starting defenders, Andrea Codi started 16 games at centre half and represents the only real immediate replacement for Zapata in position at Udinese. The 24-year-old scored twice over the course of the season where the aforementioned reserve failed to do so and scored a team high in terms of pass accuracy with 84% ahead of Coda and Benatia's 79% and Domizzi's 76%.
In terms of his defensive stats, Zapata was again the team's best player when it came to aerial duel success rates with 72%, while Coda managed 66%, Benatia 53% and Domizzi 50%. The Villarreal signing played second fiddle to the impressive, hard-hitting Benatia with regards to tackles made, averaging 2.1 compared to his colleague’s team high of 3.6. However, he again far surpassed his potential replacement's figures with Coda averaging just 1 tackle a game, behind Domizzi's 1.5.
Again, Benatia, who played in the middle of the three centre-backs over the season, ranked top in terms of interceptions made with 4.5. Zapata managed 2.2 per game, which placed him second in the team ahead of Coda (1.9) and Domizzi (1.8). Zapata and Benatia dominated once more in terms of clearances per match and blocked shots ahead of both Domizzi and Coda. In fact, the stats show that neither Domizzi or Coda come out on top in any of the analysed defensive statistics. Zapata ranks in the top 2 of the 4 centre-backs in every department, proving WhoScored.com's characteristics analysis on the Colombian indicating that he has no real weaknesses, but key strengths in tackling, aerial success and concentration.
Zapata's departure means that a new centre-back will be a top priority but if the club loses Alexis Sanchez as expected, first port of call may be to add options in attack. Outside of regular starters Di Natale and Barca-bound Sanchez, German Denis was the third most used striker, starting just 8 games.
Inler's loss could mean that they revert to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation having played 3 in the centre with the Swiss captain as the focal point. This would put less emphasis on the need for a new centre-back but could force wingbacks Mauricio Isla and Pablo Armero into a more defensive role, therefore stifling their attacking threat. Decisions, decisions!