Serie A: Mercato Recap & Season Preview
Order is based on the standings from the previous season
Key Signings- Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, Neto, Sami Khedira, Daniele Rugani, Alex Sandro, Mario Lemina, Hernanes, Juan Cuadrado (loan)
Key Departures- Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo, Fernando Llorente, Angelo Ogbonna, Kingsley Coman
The Bianconeri will look to win their fifth consecutive Scudetto but it will be quite difficult this year. Most of the top teams improved while Juve had a big turnover in their squad and will need time to build chemistry together. While opening the campaign with two loses is clearly never a good thing, I don’t think The Old Lady needs to panic just yet. They’ve been missing some key guys to injury, notably Claudio Marchisio, Sami Khedira and Alvaro Morata, who’s just returned to full fitness. Max Allegri’s side did lose some vitals players but also signed some top class talent, while also lowering the squad’s average age by 3 years. Hernanes may seem like a bit pricey panic buy but I do think he will do well as he brings experience and creativity to the midfield. In Alex Sandro, the Bianconeri have a highly talented left back with his best years ahead of him plus Patrice Evra to mentor him. Juve received a tough draw in the Champions League group stage with Manchester City, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach. Juventus may take a step back this year but they do seem set to compete at the top level for the 5-10 years with a very good young core consisting mainly of Daniele Rugani, Alex Sandro, Paul Pogba, Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata.
Key Signings- Mohamed Salah, Edin Dzeko, Iago Falque, Lucas Digne, Antonio Rudiger, William Vainqueur, Wojciech Szczesny (loan)
Key Departures- Alessio Romagnoli, Mattia Destro, Adem Ljajic, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Seydou Doumbia
There will be big expectations for Rudi Garcia this year but he’s got off to a very good start with the 2-1 win against Juventus. Roma have signed some very good players with Edin Dzeko being the #9 striker they desperately needed. Expect Mohamed Salah and Lucas Digne to both perform well this year. Roma will be expected to progress from their Champions League group but it won’t be easy being drawn with Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen. Rudi Garcia may be on the hot seat if things don’t go well for Roma this year but they certainly have the talent and potential for a great year. I think the Giallorossi have the talent and ability to get over the 2nd place hump and lift the Scudetto this season.
Key Signings- Riccardo Kishna, Ravel Morrison, Wesley Hoedt, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Patric, Alessandro Matri (loan)
Key Departures- Cristian Ledesma, Luis Pedro Cavanda, Lorik Cana
Lazio will be very disappointed that they had a great season last year but failed to qualify for the Champions League after losing to Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 on aggregate in the UCL play-off. Nonetheless, they made some very good signings, which went a bit unnoticed. Kishna is a great talent who scored in his first Serie A match, Morrison seems likely to turn his career now while Hoedt and Milinkovic-Savic are highly-rated. Stefano Pioli will look to continue their success from last year. The Biancocelesti will probably drop a few spots but don’t be surprised if the Biancocelesti make a deep run in the Europa League.
Key Signings- Mario Suarez, Nikola Kalinic, Davide Astori, Gilberto, Jakub Blaszczykowski (loan with option to buy)
Key Departures: Stevan Savic, Mario Gomez, Neto, Alberto Aquilani
After the surprise sacking of Vincenzo Montella, La Viola hired former Basel coach Paulo Sousa. Fiorentina improved their squad and it will be interesting to see how Paulo Sousa does with this team. Giuseppe Rossi has made his return from another long-term injury but hopefully stays fit and healthy because when he does, he’s a very good player. Expect Suarez and Blaszczykowski to both play well this season. La Viola seem to usually struggle balancing Europa League and Serie A, let’s see how Paulo Sousa does. With many teams improving, Fiorentina will likely not finish 4th again but they are a team that can do well in the Europa League.
Key Signings- Pepe Reina, Mirko Valdifiori, Allan, Vlad Chiriches, Mirko Valdifiori, Elseid Hysaj, Nathaniel Chalobah
Key Departures: Gokhan Inler, Miguel Britos, Edu Vargas, Walter Gargano
With Rafa Benitez’s departure, the Neapolitan club hired the hipster coach of last season Maurizio Sarri, who also brought Valdifiori and Hysaj with him from Empoli. Napoli didn’t lose any important players yet they strengthened their defense and midfield. Chiriches and Hysaj may not exactly be upgrades from what they have but in Reina they have a quality keeper and you can expect Sarri to be more organized that Benitez was. While their defense is still not so strong, their attack is deadly. Higuain, Insigne, Callejon, Hamsik and Gabbiadini should certainly not have trouble creating goals. I could really see this season go either way for Napoli. Either a great year where Sarri works his magic and they finish top 4 and do very well in the Europa League or it might just not work and Napoli drops to the 6-8 range in the league. Either way I’m interested and excited to see how Napoli does this year.
Key Signings- Goran Pandev, Diego Capel, Ezequiel Munoz, Leonardo Pavoletti, Blerin Dzemaili (on loan)
Key Departures- Andrea Bertolacci, Iaqo Falque, Juraj Kucka
The 3 departures above were all very important to their 6th place finish last year and it is very unlikely they finish that high in the table this season. Their additions are all good players with Serie A experience who should do well. Expect them to drop a few places but Giampiero Gasperini will be looking to finish mid-table with his squad.
Key Signings: Antonio Cassano, Fernando, Lorenzo De Silvestre, Edgar Barreto, Emiliano Viviani
Key Departures: Samuel Eto’o, Pedro Obiang, Stefano Okaka, Alfred Duncan, Sergio Romero
After Mihajlovic joined Milan, Sampdoria hired Walter Zenga, which was unexpected. Sampdoria were miserably knocked out of Europa League during the play-off, which Zenga got some heat for. While they did lose Obiang and Okaka who were important players in their squad, they signed Fernando who will be very good in central midfield and they still have Eder, Luis Muriel and Antonio Cassano to lead the attack. Although Sampdoria have a pretty solid squad and have got off to a good start, I’m not convinced Zenga is good enough for the job but let’s see. And honestly, the best part of this team is the President, Massimo Ferrero. He’s an absolute character and I can’t wait to see his antics this year.
Key Signings- Geoffrey Kondogbia, Stevan Jovetic, Ivan Perisic, Adem Ljajic, Jeison Murillo, Miranda Felipe Melo, Alex Telles, Martin Montoya
Key Departures- Mateo Kovacic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Hernanes
In my opinion, Inter had the best mercato in Italy even though they sold Mateo Kovacic to Real Madrid. They did a great job at improving every position on the field. Murillo and Miranda are both very good center backs, Alex Telles is a talented left back, Kondogbia and Melo can boss the midfield while Jovetic, Perisic & Ljajic are all great additions in attack. While that all sounds great, the big question is if Roberto Mancini can get it to work. I wasn’t very impressed with him last season but now he really has no excuses to not do well, especially without European football he only has to focus on the league. On paper Inter are a top 3 team and even a Scudetto challenger, let’s see if Mancini can make that happen.
Key Signings- Daniele Baselli, Davide Zappacosta, Andrea Belotti, Joel Obi
Key Departures- Matteo Darmian
While Torino sold their best player to Manchester United, the first three signings above were all great buys. Zappacosta is the perfect replacement for Darmian at right back, Baselli is a quality midfielder and Belotti is a highly talented striker. Ventura is a good coach who will do well this season. I’d expect them to finish 8th-10th yet again.
Key Signings: Carlos Bacca, Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Bertolacci, Luiz Adriano, Juraj Kucka, Jose Mauri, Rodrigo Ely, Mario Balotelli (loan)
Key Departures: Stephan El Shaawary, Adil Rami, Giampaolo Pazzini, Sulley Muntari, Michael Essien, Robinho (the last few are ‘key’ departures because their wages are gone)
After hiring Sinsa Mihajlovic, Milan added some pretty big names. Signing Carlos Bacca from Sevilla was a big coup and Alessio Romagnoli is a young center back with world class potential. Luiz Adriano and Andrea Bertolacci are also both quality signings who I think will both play very well this campaign. After watching their game against Empoli, it was apparent that they still need to strengthen their midfield. While Juraj Kucka is a solid signing I don’t think he’ll solve all the problems. Balotelli returning on loan is certainly interesting. Personally, I think Super Mario knows that this is his last shot to salvage his career and I hope he’s more mature. I’m looking forward to seeing him play as I think he could be a great spark off the bench for the Rossoneri. I really like Mihaljovic’s attitude and I think he’ll be the coach to get Milan back up to the top but I think they’ll need one more year to contend for the Scudetto. There’s a slight possibility they finish in 3rd but I’d say they’re more likely to finish 4th-5th.
Key Signings- Alberto Gilardino, Uros Djurdjevic, Oscar Hiljemark, Abdelhamid El Kaoutari
Key Departures- Paulo Dybala, Andrea Belotti, Ezequiel Munoz, Edgar Barreto
Pretty much every calcio fan was surprised Giuseppe Iachini managed to survive as coach the entire season, considering owner Zamparini’s past. While they sold their two best strikers they did manage to bring in two quality strikers. Gilardino is a proven goal scorer in Italy while Djurdjevic is a nice talent joining from Vitesse. It seemed odd that their captain Edgar Barreto left on a free transfer. I’m interested to see how Franco Vasquez does this year, if he can play & create like last year I think Palermo will do fine and finish mid-table. With that being said, don’t be surprised if the Rossoneri fall into a bit of a slump and Ianchini gets sacked.
Key Signings- Domenico Berardi, Gregoire Defrel, Alfred Duncan
Key Departures: Simone Zaza, Jasmin Kurtic, Leonardo Pavoletti
Eusbio Di Francesco did a very good job to lead Sassuolo to a 12th place finish last year. While they sold Simone Zaza to Juevntus, they signed Gregoire Defrel from Cesena who’s coming off a great season and is quite talented. The Neroverdi managed to keep one of Europe’s top young talents in Domenico Berardi for at least one more year but Juventus have an option to buy him next summer. Alfred Duncan is also a very good pickup in the center of the park. Sassuolo has some solid quality and expected them to finish in the 12-14 range.
13. Hellas Verona:
Key Signings- Giampaolo Pazzini, Federico Viviani, Matteo Bianchetti, Filip Helander
Key Departures: Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Mounir Obbadi (were both on loan)
Hellas Verona had a quite nice under the radar mercato. They snapped up Pazzini on a free transfer to partner and rotate with Luca Toni up top, Federico Viviani is a capable central midfielder and Bianchetti & Helander are nice youthful signings at center back where their age was considerably old at that position. I really quite like their squad and wouldn’t be surprised if they finish around 10th place this season.
14. Chievo Verona:
Key Signings- Lucas Castro, Paul-Josè M'Poku, Valter Birsa, Simone Pepe
Key Departures- Ervin Zukanovic, Dejan Lazarevic, Ezequiel Schelotto
The Flying Donkeys are quite literally, flying at the moment. They sit atop of the Serie A Table with 2 wins and the best goal differential. While it’s a great early Cinderella story don’t expect it to last the whole year. Almost every calcio fan dreads watching Chievo play but this year might actually be different. Alberto Paloschi is a fine goal scorer, Valter Birsa is a nice, nifty, creative player and Paul-Jose M’Poku & Simone Pepe are both attacking wingers. It doesn’t look like they’ll be relegated but expect a similar finish in the table from the Flying Donkeys this season.
Key Signings- Riccardo Saponara, Michele Camporese, Leandro Paredes (loan), Marko Livaja (loan with option to buy)
Key Departures- Mirko Valdifiori, Elseid Hysaj, Daniele Rugani, Simone Verdi
Empoli lost their two best players from last season as well as their coach. Saponara has been great for them since joining from Milan. They rejected an offer from Germany for their left full back Mario Rui, who is a quality player. Empoli made some nice signings at the end of the mercato in Paredes and Livaja but it may not be enough. This season will definitely be tough and I expect them to be in the relegation battle.
Key Signings- Ali Adnan, Ivan Piris, Marquinho, Giamperio Pinzi, Duvan Zapata (2 year loan)
Key Departures- Allan, Matej Vydra
Udinese hired a new coach in Stefano Colantuono and also completed renovations to their Stadio Friuli. Losing Allan in the middle of the field will be very hard to replace but they made some solid signings. I’ve heard Ali Adnan is a pretty talented left back, who has become the first Iraqi player in Serie A history. Marquinho can put in a shift in at central midfield and Zapata is a big strong striker on loan from Napoli. I was a bit surprised at how little at he played at Napoli because I think he’s a dangerous threat inside the box and he should do well. Expect them to finish a little higher up in the table than last season.
Key Signings- Rafael Toloi, Jasmin Kurtic, Gabriel Paletta (loan)
Key Departures- Yohan Benalouane, Davide Zappacosta, Daniele Baselli
Atalanta lost three of their top players but Tolio and Paletta are both good center backs and Kurtic is a quality midfielder. Their goalkeeper, Marco Sportiello, is very solid while Mauricio Pinilla and German Denis lead the attack. I don’t expect too much from the Bergamo side and see them finishing in the same area again, battling relegation.
Newly Promoted Teams
(Warning: I know very little about Frosinone and Carpi)
Key Signings- Modibo Diakitè, Aleksander Tonev, Nicola Leali (on loan), Daniele Verde (on loan), Samuele Longo (on loan), Aleandro Rosi (on loan)
Key Departures- Uros Cosic, Mario Santana (both were on loan)
Their arrival to Serie A has been a great story but it will be difficult for them to avoid relegation. Their loan signings are all pretty good. Leali is a good young goalkeeper, Verde showed that he could change a match coming off the bench for Roma so I think he’ll do quite well, Longo is a competent striker who will score 5-10 goals while Rosi is versatile and can play full back on both sides. Fully expect a relegation battle.
Key Signings- Marco Borriello, Nicolas Spolli, Christian Zaccardo, Wallace (loan option to buy), Ryder Matos (on loan), Luca Marrone (loan)
Key Departures- Filippo Porcari, Gabriel (was on loan)
Like Frosinone, while their promotion to Serie A is a lovely story, they are favorites to be relegated. Borriello is a proven goal scorer in Italy, which will certainly be a big help. Spolli is a decent center back, Wallace is supposedly a talented right back, Marrone will do well in central midfield and Matos can help going forward as his showed when he scored a beautiful curled shot against Sampdoria on opening weekend. It’s fun to see them in Serie A for the first time but it might not last long.
Key Signings- Mattia Destro, Godfred Donsah, Lorenzo Crisetig, Antonio Mirante, Anthony Mounier, Franco Brienza, Ibrahima Mbaye, Luca Rossettini, Emanuele Giaccherini (loan)
Key Departures- Matuzalem, Gianluca Sansone, Rolando Bianchi
Bologna have been ambitious this mercato and I love it. Mirante on a free transfer after Parma’s collapse was a great signing. Destro is a big coup for them, who will lead the attack and score goals. Donsah is a very good young talent and the Rossoblu beat Juventus & Chelsea for his signature. Crisetig and Brienza bring experience to the midfield. Rossettini and Mbaye will help to the defense. And I just love the move to sign Giaccherini on loan. I mean he’s the ultimate utility man and will basically do anything for the team. I think Delio Rossi should avoid relegation with this team he should be expected to.