Today was an eventful day.
The two perspective buyers pulled out and Parma has officially been declared bankrupt and will drop to the Amateur league. All players previously owned by Parma will become free agents and those that were co-owned will now be fully owned by the other team. A top club during the late 1990's has sadly fallen from grace after some very poor financial management.
Juventus officially announced the signing of Mario Mandzukic from Atletico Madrid. The Italian champions will pay €19M paid in 3 installments + €2M in possible bonuses. The Croatian striker signed a 4 year contract. With Tevez on his way back to Boca Juniors, Juve sealed the deal for Mandzukic.
Inter confirmed the signing of Geoffrey Kondogbia from AS Monaco. There have been different figures reported but the fee is in the €35M region. The French midfielder signed a 5 year contract. Inter seemed to have snatched this deal from the hands of city-rivals Milan. While they may have overspent, this is an impressive signing for the Nerrazzurri who add a force in the center of the park. Inter are also looking to sign a winger as Mohamed Salah and Ivan Perisic top their wish list.
Gianluca Di Marzio reported that Milan are on the verge on signing 19 year old Josè Mauri on a free transfer, after Parma's collapse. The Italian reporter also added that Milan are continuing contacts as they're trying to sign Zenit midfielder Axel Witsel.
After signing Mirko Valdifiori, Napoli have now joined Milan and Inter in the race to sign Marseille midfielder Gianelli Imbula. Napoli are also interested in Empoli's Riccardo Saponara to improve their midfield. President/Owner De Laurentiis inquired about Matteo Darmian today and Torino want €20M in cash for the fullback.
Roma have sealed the deal for Iago Falque from Genoa, while also redeeming Andrea Bertolacci. The Giallorossi have also been linked to Monaco center back Aymen Abdennour and Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie today. Sporting director Walter Sabatini is trying to find an agreement with Cagliari regarding the co-ownership of Radja Nainngolan. Over the past few days, they've also been linked to Carlos Bacca and Edin Dzeko as January signing Seydou Doumbia looks likely to leave the club.
Other news: All co-onwerships in Italy must be resolved by Thursday otherwise there will be a blind auction. Arsenal seem closer to signing Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Nicolas Burdisso extended his contract with Genoa until 2017. After arriving in January, Samuel Eto'o could already leave Sampdoria this summer.
After a very disappointing season, AC Milan has sacked Pippo Inzaghi. Inzaghi had replaced his former teammate at Milan, Clarence Seedorf, last summer. Seedorf only got a few months on the sidelines and Inzaghi got only one season. Milan has been accused of mistreating these former club legends, along with Paolo Maldini. It is certainly sad to see these Milan greats have troubles with the club post-retirement. Hopefully, Milanisti mostly remember Seedorf & Inzaghi for their great achievements on the field and not their short stints on the sidelines. Neither Seedorf nor Inzaghi had any experience coaching a club at the senior level before managing Milan. Seedorf agreed to retire from playing to take the job at Milan and Inzaghi was promoted from the club’s youth academy. The question begs to be asked: How much success did Milan management expect these guys to have with no real experience at this level? They also were not working with the most talented rosters in Milan’s history. Did Galliani and Berlusconi think that because Seedorf and Inzaghi were great players they would be able to perform miracles on the bench? Milan management deserves just as much responsibility for the failures of Seedorf and Inzaghi as the coaches themselves.
After Carlo Ancelotti declined an offer to return to Milan, they strongly pursued Sinsa Mihaljovic who had just left Sampdoria after two seasons in which he had done an impressive job. Mihaljovic has signed a 2-year contract with the Rossoneri. Considering their options, the Serbian coach was probably Milan’s best option. Ancelotti is taking a year offer, Unai Emery didn’t seem interested in the job, Antonio Conte was an almost impossible option and Vincenzo Montella is still contracted to Fiorentina. Not surprisingly, an interview from 2010 has resurfaced of Mihaljovic saying, “I'd never coach Milan. Perhaps I'd starve but that’s just how I am and I could never coach Milan. It is one of best clubs in the world but I was an Inter player and coach, I couldn't do it for respect towards Inter fans.” While Mihaljovic is a good hire, much of next season really depends on whether Berlusconi is willing to spend and how Milan would use that money. If Mihaljovic can do well with this roster that’s great but Milan won’t be competing for any trophies until they make some significant signings.
Rafa Benitez left Napoli and joined Real Madrid. Napoli hired Maurizio Sarri, who did a phenomenal job with Empoli this past season. If Napoli improve their defense, I can see Sarri doing very well and finishing in the top three. Napoli are in talks with Empoli for Mirko Valdifiori and are close to bringing back GK Pepe Reina.
Mr. Bee found an agreement with Berlusconi to buy 48% of Milan and should become official in the next month or so. Inzaghi will leave Milan, it's just a matter of time. They are working out how to resolve his contract situation. Sinsa Mihaljovic will become the new coach of the Rossoneri. This is a good hire but Milan will need to make some significant signings to improve (which they seem willing to do). Ignazio Abate extended his contract until 2019. After signing center back Rodrigo Ely from Avellino, Milan are pursuing Jackson Martinez, Ibrahimovic and Geoffrey Kondogbia. Milan are willing to pay Jackson Martinez's €35M buy-out and seem set to sign the Porto striker in the near future. Meanwhile, Zlatan appears willing to return to Milan but the Rossoneri will have to negotiate a deal with PSG. Milan also seem willing to offer Monaco €25M for midfielder Kondogbia and there's optimism that a deal can get done. Milan reportedly also have their eyes set on Miranda and Hummels. Milan look ambitious so far this summer; hopefully they make some impressive signings.
Juventus have officially signed Paulo Dybala from Palermo for €32M + €8M in possible bonuses. The Bianconeri have also signed Sami Khedira on a free transfer to a 4 year contract. They are also working to resolve the future of Simone Zaza and Domenico Berardi with Sassuolo. The futures of Carlos Tevez and Andrea Pirlo are both still unknown as both of them have been linked to moves away from Juve. They’ve also reportedly agreed on contract extensions with Leonardo Bonucci, Martin Caceres and coach Max Allegri. They’ll be rumors surrounding Paul Pogba all summer and already Man City has already reported offered €80 million. It’s sure to be a saga to last all summer but don’t be surprised if Pogba stays at Juve for one more year.
Fiorentina have parted ways with Vincenzo Montella and Paulo Sousa is the favorite to become the new coach. Mario Gomez could leave if a substantial offer comes in for the striker. Giuseppe Rossi should return from injury and be fit to start the new season. Captain Manuel Pasqual extended his contract for another year.
Mauro Icardi renewed his contract with Inter until 2019, while GK Handovic’s renewal has stalled due to interest from Man United. Inter are in the race for Chelsea’s Juan Cuadrado. The Nerazzurri are also looking at Tiago Motta, Felipe Melo and Giannelli Imbula for the midfield. Inter are also interested in Alexsandar Kolarov and Ivan Perisic. Corriere dello Sport reported that Alexandre Pato offered his services to Roberto Mancini’s side. Turkish club Fenerbahçe are interested in Inter midfielder Freddy Guarin.
Roma are trying to resolve the futures of Radja Nainngolan, Davide Astori and Victor Ibarbo with Cagliari. They are set to sell Gervinho to Al-Jazira for €14M, which is a good piece of business. The Giallorossi are interested in Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca but a deal would be difficult. They’ve also contacted Man City about Edin Dzeko. Their co-ownership of Andrea Bertolacci with Genoa will need to be resolved soon. Leandro Castan has returned to full fitness after undergoing brain surgery in December.
Lazio have extended the contract of coach Stefano Pioli until 2017. Miroslav Klose will stay for at least one more year. The Biancocelesti signed Barcelona youth product Patric on a free transfer. Gianluca DiMarzio reported that Lazio launched the first contacts for Dnipro's Yevhen Konoplyanka. They’ve also been linked to BVB striker Ciro Immobile. The big question is if they’ll keep Felipe Anderson.
Goalkeeper Mattia Perin has extended his contract with Genoa until 2019. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini has also extended his contract, until 2017. Genoa are interested in Fulham's 18 year old Moussa Dembele and Milan's Christian Zapata. Unfortunately, Genoa were denied a UEFA license to compete in the Europa League.
After Mihaljovic left, Sampdoria hired Walter Zenga to replace him on the bench. Sampdoria sold Pedro Obiang to West Ham for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around €6 million. They are interested in both Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano who would both be available on free transfers, as Samuel Eto’o is in talks with a club from Mexico. Sampdoria have also received an offer from Inter: €4M + some players amongst Puskas, Andreolli or Nagatomo for Eder. They’re expected to take Genoa’s place in the Europa League.
Elsewhere: Udinese parted ways with Andrea Stramaccioni and hired Stefano Colantuono. Udinese have also signed Ali Adnan, who will become the first Iraqi player in Serie A history. Co-Capocannoniere Luca Toni extended his contract with Hellas Verona for another year. Sporting director Riccardo Bigon left Napoli and joined Hellas Verona.
Barcelona and Juventus squared off in the UEFA Champions League Final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. Both teams were champions of their respective leagues and their domestic cups, so the winner of this match would complete the Treble, which is when a team wins three trophies in a single season. The last time an Italian team made it to the Champions League Final, Inter won the Treble in 2010. The atmosphere in Berlin was fantastic and it also was in New York City. On 6 West 33rd Street at the Football Factory at Legends Pub NYC, a large crowd of Juventus fans arrived hours before kickoff, most dressed in the traditional black-and-white jerseys of La Vecchia Signora. Juventus Club NYC member Mara Gerety said “Confidence is high . . . this is going to be one amazing game of football.”
Many thought it would be a walk in the park for Barcelona and after scoring in the 4th minute it looked like it might be just that. But Barça had to battle hard until the very end. The Spanish champions completed 15 passes in the build up to the first goal as the Brazilian Neymar played a ball to Andres Inestia who sprinted into the box and then played a square pass to Ivan Rakitic, who scored with a tap in. It was a brilliant start for the Blaugrana and it looked like a blowout could have been in the cards. In the 13th minute, Luis Suarez cut the ball back to Dani Alves from about 15 yards out and Juventus goalie Gianluigi Buffon make a great one-handed save. Barcelona continued to control the possession of the ball and much of the match. La Vecchia Signora lost possession of the ball in the middle of the field too easily and too often in the first 45 minutes. As the first half wore on, Juventus had a couple of half chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. Barcelona could have certainly scored 2 or 3 goals before halftime but Juventus managed to weather the storm. At the Football Factory and around New York City, Juventini were visibly nervous. The general sense was that Juventus was not playing at their full potential.
The Italian team started the second half on a more attacking note, earning a corner kick in the 48th minute. After Barcelona cleared the corner, Rakitic led a 5v3 counter attack and then passed the ball to Suarez. The Uruguayan striker hit a shot with the outside of his right foot but Gigi Buffon made a great save at the near post, keeping Juventus in the game. The Italian champions found their breakthrough in the 55thminute. Claudio Marchisio played a brilliant back heel pass to the Swiss rightback Stephan Lichtsteiner who found Carlos Tevez inside the box. The Argentinan striker turned and hit a first time left-footed shot, which was saved by Barcelona’s goalie, Marc-André Ter Stegen, and Alvaro Morata pounced on the rebound. The goal brought life back to the Bianconeri, who then began possessing the ball more and creating more chances. The game opened up with more end-to-end action. There was a 10-15 minute stretch in the second half when Juventus had the better of the play and looked the team more likely to score. Paul Pogba appealed for a penalty in the 67th minute when he controlled a cross in Barcelona’s box and Dani Alves appeared to pull the Frenchman down to the ground. A minute later, Lionel Messi picked up the ball at midfield, dribbled to the top of the Juventus penalty box and hit a low left-footed shot, which Buffon managed to save but Luis Suarez was there to tap in the rebound. 2-1 Barcelona. At the Football factory, Juve fans moaned and cursed at the television screen.
Barcelona kept the pressure on when Neymar found the back of the net in the 71st minute, but the officiating crew did a fine job in disallowing the goal. The Brazilian headed the ball into the net but replays clearly showed it hit off his hand. Xavi Hernandez came on as a substitute to earn his 151th appearance in the Champions League, which is an all-time record. Juventus created a few half chances in the last 10 minutes but couldn’t find a clear-cut opportunity. As the Bianconeri pushed forward during stoppage time, searching for an equalizer, Barça capitalized on a 3v2 counterattack as Neymar found the back of the net with a left footed strike to the far post. That put the game to bed and Barcelona won their 5th Champions League Title and sealed the coveted Treble.
Despite the end result, it was a fantastic and entertaining match. It was great to see an Italian side in the biggest match of the season. Napoli and Fiorentina both made it to the Europa League semi-finals this year and hopefully Serie A teams can continue their impressive play in Europe. Despite giving up 3 goals, 37-year-old goalkeeper Buffon had a fantastic match and helped keep Juventus in the game until the final whistle. Most soccer fans and journalists around the world gave Juventus no chance against what is surely going to be a legendary Barcelona side. Juventus can hold their heads high, playing a spirited match and they made Italian calcio proud. But Mara from Juve Club NY and Juventus fans will long remember Andrea Pirlo’s poignant tears as the game ended.
After months of on and off negotiations, Bee Taechaubol and Silvio Berlusconi have finally found an agreement. The Thai businessman will purchase 48% of AC Milan for approximately €480 million. Fininvest, the holding company of Milan, released an official statement confirming Berlusconi and Mr. Bee have come to an agreement and the deal will be made official within the next 8 weeks. SKY Sport Italy also reports that Mr. Bee could become the majority owner of Milan within the next few years.
"The deal with Bee Taechaubol allows me to keep the majority stake." Silvio Berlusconi said. "Now we have the possibility of further developing the use of Milan's commercial brand in Asia."
This is a very significant day for Milan. A new owner with new investors is an exciting prospect, especially following two disappointing seasons. These are exciting times for Milanisti! Could this be the move that helps Milan get back amongst the top clubs in Europe?
What an unbelievable day for the game! Joesph Sepp Blatter announced that he was stepping down as the president of FIFA after 17 years in charge of the organization. His resignation comes amidst a major corruption scandal in which several FIFA officials were arrested last week. Blatter was re-elected last Friday to a fifth term. Since the corruption scandal broke just two days before the election, Blatter’s re-election showed how corrupt the organization actually is.
The main reason rumored for Blatter stepping down is that the authorities are supposedly very close to getting incriminating evidence on Blatter. Blatter was not directly implicated in the investigation yet, but The New York Times reported late Monday that Blatter’s top deputy, Jérôme Valcke, had been identified by American officials as a person linked to wire transfers involving bank payments believed to be bribes related to World Cup bids. A FIFA spokesperson indicated that the likely window for a new election is from December 2015 to March 2016.
This has truly come as shocking news. Nobody really expected Blatter to step down like this. The most likely way to get rid of Blatter after his re-election was if he got arrested. This is a great first step in changing the terrible corrupt organization of FIFA. The way the system is structured still needs to be modified though. Hopefully this will lead to real, legitimate, important changes within FIFA.
1. Juventus (87 points) – In his first season, Max Allegri led the Bianconeri to their 4th straight Scudetto. Juve were at the top of the table pretty much all of the season and pulled away from 2nd place Roma in early 2015. Juventus will look to complete a historic treble on Saturday June 6th against Barcelona. The strongest team in Italy won again; hopefully next year they’ll be more of a challenge for the Scudetto.
Offseason – Juve have already signed Daniele Rugani, Paulo Dybala and Sami Khedira. With no real ‘needs’ they’ll look to add depth and maybe go for another big signing (in addition to Dybala) as they’ve been linked to Cavani and Witsel. Their main goal this summer though is to keep their stars: Pogba, Vidal, Tevez.
2. Roma (70 points) – Rudi Garcia guided the Giallorossi to a 2nd place finish for the second year in a row. Their form in the beginning of 2015 was very disappointing but they finished the season well enough to beat city rivals Lazio to clinch 2nd place and an automatic birth to the Champions League group stage. Roma will want to take that next step and challenge Juventus next season.
Offseason –Both outside back spots could be improved unless they end up starting Florenzi at right back regularly. They’ll look to sign a goalkeeper. Will have to resolve the situations of Nainngolan, Astori and Ibarbo with Cagliari. Goalkeepers Handanovic, Cech and Perin have all been linked to Roma. Mattia Destro is on loan at Milan (who have an option to buy him) but his future is uncertain at the moment.
3. Lazio (69 points) – Stefano Pioli did a fantastic job to lead Lazio to a 3rd place finish and clinch Champions League football. They lost in the Coppa Italia Final to Juventus but the season will still be considered a success. They’ll need to play in the Champions League play-off to make the group stage but let’s hope they represent Serie A well!
Offseason – Lotito will definitely want to progress to the Champions League group stage and will look to improve the squad this summer. With Champions League play secured the big question will be if they’ll now be able to keep Felipe Anderson. They could look to improve the left back spot, maybe pair De Vrij with another quality center back and do well to replace Felipe Anderson if they sell him.
4. Fiorentina (64 points) – La Viola overtook Napoli after the last match of the season to finish in 4th place. They made the semi-final of the Europa League and qualified for that competition next year. They’ll take part in the International Champions Cup over the summer.
Offseason – There is some speculation about coach Vincenzo Montella’s future, which has been linked to both Milan and Napoli. We’ve yet to see Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez start up front together for La Viola, hopefully it’ll happen next season. Alberto Aquilani seems set to leave the club. They are reportedly leading the race for Empoli midfielder Mirko Valdifiori, who could be a great signing.
5. Napoli (63 points) – Rafa Benitez is on his way out at Napoli after a disappointing season. Napoli had a chance to steal 3rd place from Lazio as they squared off in the last match of the season, and Napoli almost pulled off a miraculous comeback but eventually fell to a 4-2 defeat. Napoli lost in the Europa League semi-final to Dnipro, which was very disappointing. Napoli will look to get back into the top 3 next season for a Champions League spot.
Offseason – With Benitez leaving, the first piece of business for Aurelio De Laurentiis is to find the right coach. Sampdoria’s Mihajlovic is the favorite at the moment with Spaletti, Di Matteo and Prandelli also being linked to the job. The other big question regards the future of Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon, who’ve both been linked to moves away from the club. Without Champions League play there’s a good chance they do leave the club. The main thing Napoli needs to focus on is improving their defense. They conceded 54 goals, the most out of any team that finished in the top half of the table.
6. Genoa (59 points) – Gian Piero Gasperini did a fine job to lead the Rossoblu to a 6th place finish. Unfortunately they might not be rewarded as they’ve been denied a UEFA license to participate in the Europa League. They appealed the original decision and a final decision on the license is expected this week.
Offseason – Goalkeeper Mattia Perin has drawn some interest from some top clubs but he seems set to stay with a contract extension imminent. Central midfielder Andrea Bertolacci’s co-ownership with Roma has to be resolved this summer, with reports of Milan being interested in him. He’s had a great season and if he leaves, Genoa will need a solid replacement for him. M’baye Niang has done very well on his loan from Milan and Genoa would like to renew his loan or buy him but Milan might bring him back. Iago Falque and Diego Perotti have both had very good seasons and could draw interest from some bigger clubs.
7. Sampdoria (56 points) – Coach Sinsa Mihajlovic is set to leave the club but he’s done a good job over the last two seasons. Owner Massimo Ferrera has a great, outgoing personality and has put a significant amount of money into the club. New singings Luis Muriel and Samuel Eto’o helped the Bluerchiati to a 7th place finish. If Genoa get denied for the UEFA license, Sampdoria will take their place in the Europa League.
Offseason – Paulo Sousa has been linked to the coaching job but the latest reports say that Walter Zenga is the favorite to become the new Sampdoria coach. Massimo Ferrera has said that he’d love to bring Mario Balotelli to the club and while that sounds a bit ridiculous I wouldn’t be surprised if Sampdoria makes a splash on a big signing this summer. Striker Stefano Okaka has been linked to both Southampton and Sunderland, while Crystal Palace are interested in Eder.
8. Inter (55 points) – After Walter Mazzari was sacked in November, Roberto Mancini made his return to the club. Despite signing Shaqiri, Brozevic, Santon and Podolski (on loan) in January, the Nerazzurri had a disappointing season and missed out on European competition.
Offseason - After being hit with a FFP fine, I’m not sure how much money Inter will have to spend this summer. They are looking to extend the contract of joint Capocannoniere, Mauro Icardi, who has drawn interest from Chelsea & Atletico Madrid. They’ve been trying to negotiate a deal to sign Man City’s Yaya Toure but he’s just announced he plans to stay at the English club. Inter have also been trying to sign Man City striker Stevan Jovetic. They’ve also been linked to Kondongbia, Allan and Felipe Melo. Liverpool have been reported to want Mateo Kovacic but Inter intends to keep him. Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has been linked to Roma and Man United. To end on a good note: Inter are expected to receive €11 milion from Sunderland for Ricky Alvarez since they avoided regulation.
9. Torino (54 points) – After an impressive 7th place finish last season, Giampiero Ventura led the Granata to a 9th place finish this year. After an impressive Europa League run to the Round of 16, Torino just missed out on a European spot for next season. This season should definitely be considered a success especially since Torino sold their two best players last summer, Cerci & Immobile. They also beat city rivals Juventus in Serie A for the first time since 1995.
Offseason – Their wing-back pairing of Matteo Darmian and Bruno Peres was hands down the best in the league this season and both of them have been linked to bigger clubs. 27 year-old center back Kamil Glik has been linked to Man City, Man United and Tottenham. It looks like Torino may be selling their best players again this summer so hopefully they sign viable replacements.
10. Milan (52 points) – A different club legend on the sidelines, another very disappointing season for Milan. It’s the 2nd year in a row that the Rossoneri haven’t qualified for European competition. Their defense was very poor this year and they had the most red cards (13) in the league. No matter who owns the club and who’s the coach, Milan need to improve their squad and compete for a European spot next season.
Offseason – Pippo Inzaghi will almost definitely be sacked, as Milan are trying to convince Carlo Ancelotti to return. Mihajlovic, Emery, Montella, Sarri and even Conte are other names that have been linked to the coaching job. While reports that Thai businessman Mr.Bee would buy shares of the club have died down, there’s still a chance Berlusconi sells a minority stake. Berlusconi is reportedly willing to have a transfer budget of over €100 million if Ancelotti returns with a transfer target list that includes: Bacca, Mandzukic, Gundhogan, Mario Suarez, Jackson Martinez and even possibly an Ibrahimovic return! While that list sounds great they’re going to need to improve their defense, which let up to 50 goals, to have more success. Bonera, Mexes, De Jong, Essien and Pazzini are all on expiring contracts and are expected to leave the club this summer according to http://www.milannews.it.
11. Palermo (49 points) - In their first season back in Serie A, Giuseppe Iachini did a commendable job to easily avoid relegation and finish in 11th place. The Rossonero had two players with double digits this season: Paulo Dybala had 13 goals and 10 assists and Franco Vazquez had 10 goals and 10 assists. Palermo will look to avoid relegation and finish mid-table again next season.
Offseason - Star striker Paulo Dybala has already completed a move to Juventus but Palermo got a good price for him considering his contract expires next summer. They'll certainly be looking to sign a viable replacement. Franco Vazquez has been linked to some bigger clubs but president Zamparini says he doesn't want to sell. EPL club Crystal Palace made an offer for left back Achraf Lazaar in January and could try to sign him again this summer.
12. Sassuolo (49 points) - Eusebio Di Francesco did well this year to easily avoid relegation and has signed a contract extension until 2017. The attacking trio of Nicola Sansone, Domenico Berardi & Simone Zaza has been great over the last two years but they'll be split up this summer. The Neroverdi have made a name for themselves in Serie A and you can expect them to avoid relegation again next season.
Offseason - Journalist Gianluca DiMarzio has reported that Berardi & Zaza both might be set to join Juventus. Berardi is co-owned between Juve & Sassuolo while Juve have an option to buy Zaza this summer for €15 million or €18 million next summer. Whether one or both of them leave, Sassuolo will need to find replacements who can score goals. Right back Sime Vrsaljko has drawn interest from bigger clubs including Milan, Juventus and even Barcelona. They could also look to find an improvement over Paolo Cannavaro at the center back position.
13. Hellas Verona (46 points) - 2nd year in a row they've avoided relegation. 38 year old Luca Toni had an unbelievable season sharing the Capocannoniere with 22 goals. Andrea Mandorlini has done well the last 2 seasons to avoid relegation and finish mid-table.
Offseason - Luca Toni has been linked to newly-promoted Carpi and Sydney FC but seems likely to stay. The versatile Jacopo Sala has played very well the last 2 seasons and has been linked to Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham. They’re also been some reports that they could try to sign Romulo back from Juventus. Hellas should invest in their central defense this summer.
14. Chievo Verona (46 points) – Even though they don’t play the most attractive soccer, the Flying Donkeys also seem to avoid the drop. Alberto Paloschi led the team with 9 goals. Head coach Rolando Maran has signed a 3-year contract extension.
Offseason – Maxi Lopez will return from his loan at Torino and Chievo will have to decide whether to sell or keep him. Chievo will look to make some cheap, shrewd signings to continue to stay up in Serie A.
15. Empoli (42 points) – Maurizio Sarri did a phenomenal job this season to help Empoli easily avoid relegation. Gli Azzurri played attractive football this year. Center back Daniele Rugani was the only player to play every single minute of this Serie A campaign and he did so without receiving a single booking. Midfielder Mirko Valdifiori completed the second most passes in the league (2692) and had the most key passes per game (2.5) according to WhoScored. 35 year old Massimo Maccarone led the team with 10 goals.
Offseason – Maurizio Sarri could possibly get an offer from a bigger club. The club has revealed they will exercise the option to buy Riccardo Saponara from Milan for €4 million but after having a great season he’s drawn interest from Lazio. Valdifiori played well to earn his first cap for Italy and has drawn interest from Fiorentina and Napoli. If they sell their better players, Empoli will need to sign capable replacements to avoid relegation.
16. Udinese (41 points) – After just one season, Andrea Stramaccioni will part ways with the club. Antonio Di Natale had another commendable season and surpassed Roberto Baggio on the all-time Serie A goalscorers list. Central midfielder Allan had a very good season. Overall, Stramaccioni did not do well and Udinese had a disappointing season.
Offseason – The priority is to find a new coach. Di Natale has offers from America and Dubai and his future is undecided. If Toto decides to leave it will be very difficult to find a replacement who can score like him. Udinese have already reportedly rejected an offer from Inter for Allan. Roma are interested in their goalkeeper Karnezis.
17. Atalanta (37 points) – Edy Reja helped Atalanta avoid relegation. Mauricio Pinilla and German Denis both scored great bicycle kick goals, which are contenders for goal of the season. Goalkeeper Marco Sportiello did very well this season and Liverpool are reported to be interested in him. Midfielder Daniele Baselli has been linked to Milan for at least a year and a deal could finally happen this summer.
18. Cagliari (34 points) – The season started with Zdenek Zeman, then after they fired him, Cagliari hired Gianfranco Zola, then they went back to Zeman and they finished the season with Gianluca Festa. The coaching carousel didn’t do a good enough job to avoid relegation though, although they did end the year with some dignity by defeating Udinese 4-3 in the last match of the season. Marco Sau was their leading scorer with 7 goals. Captain Daniele Conti is leaving the club after 16 years. Cagliari will have to resolve the futures of Nainngolan, Astori and Ibarbo who are all at Roma. They will look to bounce back up to Serie A next season.
19. Cesena (24 points) – The Seahorses just didn’t have enough to avoid the drop. They were expected to be relegated but they fought hard each week. Their leading goal scorer Gregoire Defrel has been recently linked to Milan. One of their best performers this season, Carlos Carbonero, was on loan from Roma. They’ll look to gain promotion again but it won’t be easy.
20. Parma (17 points) – Disaster. That would be an understatement of Parma’s season. After missing out on the Europa League because they were denied a UEFA license last year, the club has just fallen apart. After not paying the players, the club declared bankruptcy and went into the hands of the FIGC. Players have terminated their contracts and players have been sold for as little as €500. The first four auctions have seen no bidder and if nobody buys the club it will drop to Lega Pro. It’s sad to see a storied club fall from grace. The future of Parma looks very bleak.
As the curtain draws down on another Serie A season, it proved to be a frustrating one for the capital side. Roma finished second behind Juventus for the second year running as the side from Turin picked up their 4th successive Scudetto. Always the bridesmaid never the bride.
A new squad was assembled with signings of Juan Iturbe, Ashley Cole, Seydou Keita, Salih Ucan, Leandro Paredes and Kostas Manolas. It all started so well for Roma winning their first five games in Serie A but in the first weekend in October, Roma travelled to Turin to take on Juventus but in a controversial match Juventus won the game 3-2 thanks to late winner from Leonardo Bonucci. A couple of weeks later in the Champions League Roma took on Bayern Munich in Rome after picking up 4 points from the opening two games. Bayern Munich then put on a masterclass of ball retention and attacking football, destroying Roma 7-1. Rudi Garcia tried to play his counter attacking style of football against Pep Guardiola and was taught a lesson. For the next couple of months, Roma confidence was shot and they played within themselves as their form struggled in the league and in the Champions League. Then in December, Roma were knocked out of the Champions League in stuttering circumstances as they went down in a whimper losing 2-0 at home to Manchester City.
In the New Year, Roma's winter Transfer Mercato was poor at best as an injured Victor Ibarbo and an unfit Seydou Doumbia joined to reinforce the attack. Nicola Spolli was then brought in as the 5th choice defender on loan from Catania. Going out was Mattia Destro who joined AC Milan on loan and was the type of striker that Roma missed in the last six months. In March, it was a bit too far for the Ultras in the Curva Sud who demanded the players to talk to them after an embarrassing home defeat in the Europa League to Fiorentina. It was a sad sight as Alessandro Florenzi was seen crying after walking away from the Curva Sud.
With one week of the season remaining a battle for second place was on the cards in one of the biggest Rome Derby's of the last few years. Rudi Garcia showed some tactical awareness in this game in sitting deep and nullifying Lazio attacking threat and hit Lazio on the counter and won the game late on thanks to a Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa header. The Roma players then celebrated after the final whistle in front of the Curva Sud with Francesco Totti leading the celebrations with a "GAME OVER" t-shirt.
An important summer awaits for Roma as the squad needs to be built to better challenge for the Scudetto and to go further in Europe. I think the main priority is to sort out the co-ownership of Radja Nainggolan, he has been one of Roma main performers and with the relegation of Cagliari it would make the price of the transfer easier. An improved goalkeeper, 2 full backs and a reinforced attack are needed to be more successful next year.
Samir Handanovic, Petr Cech and Mattia Perin have all been linked with the goalkeeping spot as Roma looked to add a bit of stability in goal. In defense, the full backs have been the problem and the Torino pair of Bruno Peres and Matteo Darmian would be ideal replacements. In attack, a target man is needed and as he has fallen down the pecking order at Man City, Edin Dzeko would fit the bill and link up with his Bosnian teammate Miraelm Pjanic. On the flanks, Marseille winger Andre Ayew has been linked with the club on a free transfer as the French club look to cut their large wage bill.
Roma have missed two crucial players in Leandro Castan and Kevin Strootman to long injuries for the majority of the season and they will be welcomed with open arms when pre-season starts in July.
(Article Written by Scot Munroe, a Roma supporter and Calcio writer, @ScotM87)