With a new Serie A campaign already upon us (and then some) it was time to check in with our roundtable of experts on the league and see what’s in store for us in the coming year. We go over everything from the transfer market to who’s going to get sacked first.
Q: What clubs had the best/worst transfer markets? Is there anyone you see taking a big step forward or regressing this season?
David: I really like what Napoli has done. Losing Insigne (who was on the decline) and Koulibaly (who struggled to find top form after the AFCON) looks awful on paper and will hurt a bit in the short team, but the additions more than make up for it. Raspadori, Giovanni Simeone, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Mathias Olivera, and Tanguy Ndombele are all excellent signings not just for this season, but also for many to come. Juventus also deserve a shout for finding their weaknesses and filling them with Di Maria, Kostic, Leandro Paredes (still just rumors), and Pogba, though midfield and defense remain reliant on the health of just a few players. As for the worst market, Torino lost Gleison Bremer, Andrea Belotti, and all but one of its starting midfielders, with Dennis Praet, Josip Brekalo, Tommaso Pobega, Rolando Mandragora, and possibly Sasa Lukic on the way out. They’ll still be safe from relegation with Ivan Juric in charge but this throws any dreams of Europe out the window.
Jake: Roma, Juve, and Inter have had the best transfer campaigns in the top 7, in that order. Roma is suddenly being hailed a top 4 team and a potential scudetto winning side for a reason.
Outside of the top 7, Monza has had the most notable campaign, transforming their side with quality signings. They will most likely survive. Apart from Lecce and Cremonese, whose signings haven’t really improved their chances of survival, Torino and Napoli come to mind. Torino has lost key pieces in literally every department and has yet to replace them adequately. Considering that Napoli was fighting for the league last season, their transfer campaign has been underwhelming. They’ve brought in some decent pieces, but have lost leaders in Ospina, Koulibaly, Insigne, and probably Ruiz. The people of Naples must be furious with De Laurentiis.
IZCheek: In my view that had the best window is undoubtedly Napoli. They may have not signed the biggest names or known superstars, but they have managed to sign those who will be. They’ve built a really solid young core and have managed to significantly improve their forward line with Raspadori and Khvicha. Olivera finally plugged the hole in left back and they signed another technically fantastic midfielder in Ndombele. Hellas Verona pulled off a miracle last season losing Juric with Zaccagni and landing Tudor with current Monza striker Caprari starring in attack. Now Hellas find themselves needing another miracle, however, I believe their luck has run out. They’ve lost a major creative outlet and their coach compounded with the fact that half their back line has been shipped to Lazio only spells danger for them.
Shango: Best window, Torino. Torino addressed their problems positions with some smart dealings: a very solid CB in Schuurs, a talented prospect in Ilkhan, wingback depth in Lazaro, Vlasic to replace and upgrade massively on Praet, Miranchuk and Radonjic (Juric can save a Balkan brother in need) to replace Brekalo. All they’d need is another left wing back and it’d be an A window for them. Alongside selling Bremer when the iron was piping hot. Worst window, Sampdoria. What have they done? Their squad gets worse and worse every passing day. Harry Winks is terrible. Hope they get relegated.
A player to regress will probably be one of Leao or Duvan Zapata, then Caleb Okoli will spread his wings and be the key figure of Bergamo.
Q: What newcomers to the league are you keeping a special eye on?
David: Luka Jovic at Fiorentina has the potential to be really special. It’s hard not to draw parallels between the Real Madrid flop to his countryman Dusan Vlahovic, and I could see Jovic setting Serie A on fire once he’s adapted to Vicenzo Italiano’s system. Samuel Umtiti at Lecce (yep, you read that right) is also well worth keeping an eye on.
Jake: Monza had a few good players that I liked last season. They’re still there but have seemingly lost their place in the starting XI. Di Gregorio is a solid goalkeeper, he’s understandably lost his spot to Cragno. Machin is a very interesting midfielder and should get minutes. Keep an eye on him. Gytkyaer has reached legendary status with Monza for his crucial goals. He’ll have a role to play this season, even with Petagna’s arrival (and potentially Icardi). Cremonese has lost a key piece to their team in Fagioli, as he’s returned to Juve. The first player I’m excited to watch is Milan’s former youth player Frank Tsadjout. He’s fast, technical, and has an eye for goal. Di Carmine has enough Serie A experience to cause some damage. Okereke is the star of the team. As for Lecce, I’ll be keeping an eye on AC Milan loanee Lorenzo Colombo. He’s only a teenager, but he’s built like a wrestler and has a great natural goalscoring ability. They will feel the loss of Massimo Coda, but they’ve brought in Ceesay who looks promising. Di Francesco can always do some damage too.
IZCheek: From the plentiful of incoming players introduced to the league these are the ones to keep a keen eye on Kostic, Lookman, and Khvicha. A set of left-wingers on teams that were starved last season from that side of the pitch. Dessers, who looked a grade above the usual level of attackers on the bottom half of the table against Roma, Kim, and Marcos Antonio round off the lesser-known arrivals to the league
Shango: My eyes are on Boulaye Dia, Maximiano, and Josh Doig. Boulaye because I was a big fan of him when he was at Reims and Maximiamo will be a top four GK in the league once he’s settled in with Lazio’s backline. Doig looks like the next Aaron Hickey and already opened his goalscoring account at Hellas Verona.
Q: Of the many coaching changes across the peninsula, which will be successful and which are doomed for failure?
IZCheek: The departed Thiago Motta immediately being replaced by Luca Gotti is shrew work from Spezia’s board. In my opinion, Gotti is a better manager who will earn more points for the Aquilotti. Ivan Tudor was the revelation of the 21/22 season at Verona. Being tasked with replicating his managerial stint is a recipe for failure and Cioffi finds himself in front of that gargantuan mountain to climb.
Jake: I can’t help but think that Zanetti will do well with Empoli. Venezia had some positive moments under him and I feel like Empoli’s players fit his style. I’m curious to see Gotti at Spezia. Gotti has proven to be a very meticulous coach and could do well with Spezia, despite their lack of moves in the market. I don’t understand why Udinese appointed Andrea Sottil, who has never coached in Serie A before. It seems like a very risky move to me, even though he did very well with Ascoli. Verona and Udinese are similar enough in style for Cioffi to find success with Verona. Massimiliano Alvini is doomed with Cremonese.
David: I’m interested to see what Paolo Zanetti can do at Empoli. He had his former club Venezia playing some pleasing-on-the-eye football at times last season and now gets a second chance with a more balanced squad in Tuscany. And even if Empoli doesn’t quite piece it together, there’ll be goals no matter what in Zanetti’s more open system. Giovanni Stroppa at Monza seems destined for failure - despite an expensive summer spending spree Monza’s roster is far from the level Berlusconi will want it to be in the standings and Stroppa will be the first to go, fair or not.
Shango: The inevitable replacement for Stroppa. Whoever replaces him will automatically do a better job than Stroppa ever will. Then Cioffi will fail at Hellas Verona because he’ll probably not get the time to set his way of playing to be successful over there.
Q: What’s your take on this crop of newly promoted teams - Lecce, Monza, and Cremonese?
Jake: Monza has a financial advantage, and will most likely survive as they’ve made some very intelligent moves in the market. Lecce has lost their bomber in Massimo Coda and it’ll take something very special for them to survive. Ceesay and Colombo have big shoes to fill. Cremonese has a new coach and has struggled to bring in experienced players. Monza survives, Lecce might, Cremonese won’t.
David: Pretty much what Jake said, though Monza’s 0W-3L start is definitely concerning and so far they look like a Serie B side. That should change as the new signings adapt to each other, but so much turnover in one summer isn’t always a recipe for success. Lecce has shown fight but it’s going to take a superstar-level season from one of its attackers to stay up. Cremonese is heading down.
IZCheek: Cremonese are undoubtedly the best promoted team in my eyes. They’ve gone the unconventional route and signed players that haven’t struggled in Serie A their whole career, excluding Radu. Already seem to have a decent established attacking plan. Lecce seem like a stable defensive team but their attacking talent is lacking. They’ll be in constant wars. Monza seem to have modeled their transfer market after their owner, old and tired. They signed plenty of consistently average to below average Serie A lifers. Very uninspiring market, I believe they will fare the worst.
Shango: Cremonese. They’ve recruited smartly with the likes of Ascasibar, Aiwu, Okereke, Locho, and Dessers who fit their style of play. I think they can survive if they stick to Alvini and let him cook, but we are in Italy so realism is a must. They’ll also get relegated but with a fight.
Monza, terrible squad building, terrible coach. Terrible all round. Can’t defend, can’t attack, what can they do? Their recruitment is what I can “spreading butter on a rotten piece of bread.” They’ve signed Bondo and Rovella, two very good midfield prospects, but then sign terrible players like Petagna, Izzo, and Pessina. In a world of idealism I want them to finish rock bottom of the league but they’ll most likely survive with whoever replaces their “coach” Stroppa.
Lecce, why are they here? Their presence is very boring. Umtiti and Colombo are great signings but other than that they’re just a very one-dimensional team. They’ll also get relegated.
Q: Now it’s time for predictions. Who’s going to get sacked first? Next midtable player ready for stardom? Who’s fated for relegation?
Jake: Alvini will be the first to get sacked in my opinion. A run of losses will leave the company no choice but to sack him. I would say that Abdelhamid Sabiri is the next midtable player destined for stardom. He’s adapted comfortably to the league and had a very promising preseason. I would say that Cremonese, Lecce, and Salernitana are destined for the drop.
David: Stroppa at Monza goes first, closely followed by Marco Giampaolo at Sampdoria (random side point, but the go-to answer for that is always Genoa, and it’s odd not to have them as an answer anymore). Cremonese, Lecce, and Salernitana go down, while Udinese striker Beto breaks out with 15+ goals and does enough to keep his side above the line.
IZCheek: 1)Milan, 2)Inter, 3)Napoli, 4)Juve, 5)Lazio, 6)Roma, 7)fForentina, 18)Empoli, 19)Sampdoria, 20)Monza
First sacking will be handed to Stroppa, followed by Giampaolo. The midtable players fated for stardom are Koopmeiners, Vlasic, and L.Coulibaly
- To be sacked first: Stroppa.
- Ready for the stars: Denso Kasius (Bologna), Kiwior (Spezia), Emmanuel Aiwu.
- Relegation: Sampdoria, Lecce, Cremonese.
What do you think? Which clubs have impressed the most in the transfer market? Who’s doomed for relegation? Let us know in the comments below.