THT analyses five major talking points heading into the 2015-16 Serie A campaign, at a time of the year when every President, Coach, player and fan anxiously awaits what’s to come…
Milana s Rejuvenation
It has been a busy summer for AC Milan a the Rossoneri are eagerly looking to get back on to the European map. For the first time, in football history, both Inter and AC Milan failed to qualify for a European competition in the coming season, which highlights just how much of a struggle it has been for two of Europea s finest and most traditional clubs. Following the sacking of Filippo Inzaghi earlier this season, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has looked to bolster his ranks with arrival of Sampdoria boss Sinisa Mihajlovic and on the field the Rossoneri look like they mean business as well.
Not only did they snap up Carlos Bacca, but they also moved in for highly-rated Shakhtar Donetsk hit-man Luiz Adriano a a double-swoop which is sure to make Milan one of the most deadly sides in Serie A next season in front of goal. Milana s backline is perhaps the one area that Mihajlovic will look to improve severely this month now that he has concluded some solid business in the other areas of the pitch. Milan conceded 49 league goals last season and looked extremely sloppy at the back with the likes of Gabriel Paletta and Alex struggling. However, after the departure of Adil Rami, it seems that those two defenders could be the cluba s first choice centre-backs, unless they look to bring in Romaa s Alessio Romagnoli.
Nigel De Jong recently signed a new contract and he will be partnered by Ricardo Montolivo, a man who managed just 10 league games last season. The Italy international has failed to light up the San Siro since moving there, but being club captain it is unlikely Mihajlovic will look to drop him to the bench for the new campaign. The final mezzala will be a tough battle between Giacomo Bonaventura and new acquisition Andrea Bertolacci. Bonaventura was impressive for Milan in what was an otherwise dire last season, but Bertolacci commanded a big fee for his services and could have something to say about who gets the role.
The attacking midfield role might feature Keisuke Honda or Jeremy Menez.It seems virtually impossible that Menez, who scored 16 times in Serie A last season, will be dropped. The two front positions really choose themselves and it promises to be an interesting coming season for the Rossoneri with Bacca and Adriano leading the line.Bacca scored 20 La Liga goals for Sevilla last season as they finished fifth in the top flight and got their hands on the Europa League where he scored a brace in the final, whilst Adriano managed a stunning nine efforts in the Champions League for Shakhtar. Milan lacked a real finisher aside from Menez last season and will be hoping that their two new arrivals can do the business in the coming campaign under the stewardship of Mihajlovic.
Roberto Mancini has no excuses left with all the money spent
A fan until the end, it took over three years for Massimo Moratti to eventually sell a controlling stake in the club to Erick Thohir in November 2013. The Indonesian entrepreneur inherited a club that was in no position to deal with the complexities and realities of UEFAa s Financial Fair Play Regulations. In the eighteen months since arriving, Thohir has made tangible changes in almost every area of the club.
Despite the dramatic overhaul, Inter did turn to their past in searching for Walter Mazzarria s replacement, bringing in Roberto Mancini for his second spell in charge. Despite bringing in the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Davide Santon and Lukas Podolski in January to try and boost their chances, Mancinia s arrival failed to have an immediate impact as Inter finished 2014-15 in eighth place. That meant they would be without European football for the second time in three years, and Inter are determined that will not happen again next time around.
They have been one of the most proactive teams on the continent so far this summer, already securing central defender Joao Miranda from Atletico Madrid, Manchester Citya s Stevan Jovetic, AS Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Barcelona full-back Martin Montoya. As well as being intelligent acquisitions, they have also been signed in well-structured deals, with Mirandaa s transfer an example of a The Inter Formula.a The Brazilian has joined on a loan until 2016, with the Nerazzurri paying the Spanish club a (a 12.5m) fee over the subsequent two years which is a major help with their FFP compliance.
The work to improve on their on-field pedigree has one clear aim: get the club back into the Champions League on a regular basis.Everything hinges on Mancinia s ability to deliver improved results but with both Milan and Inter out of Europe simultaneously for the first time since 1955, there is a feeling that the forthcoming campaign could see the citya s two sleeping giants awaken again. Mancini will have a full pre-season to prepare his squad rather than inheriting a poor situation and there will be no distractions from the Europa League either.
Team chemistry will be the biggest issue facing Juventus ahead of the new season
With eight members of the squad that finished last season having left Turin and seven newcomers replacing them, the group at Max Allegria s disposal for the 2015-16 campaign has some key differences with the one that performed so superbly last time out. Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez are the most high-profile departures, the trio having been so integral to Juventusa success over the last two years and, in the former paira s case, since the cluba s current run of four consecutive league titles began in 2011.
It would be perfectly understandable if their absences were keenly felt. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that this summer has been all doom and gloom for Juventus; Paulo Dybala and Sami Khedira were the first arrivals in early June, the pair joining the Italian champions from Palermo and Real Madrid respectively. Khedira brings the experience and proven pedigree that has been lost with the sales of fellow midfielders Pirlo and Vidal. Injury concerns aside, the Germany international remains a fantastic all-rounder who can both break up play and drive his team forward on the attack.
Mario Mandzukic has also been brought in with Daniele Rugani and Simone Zaza both returning to the club after spells at Empoli and Sassuolo. Elsewhere, Neto has arrived as Gigi Buffona s latest understudy from Fiorentina. Zaza and Rugani may not be automatic starters but add more depth to the side. Despite heavy speculation linking him with Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea, Paul Pogba seems to have decided to stay put for at least another year. Claudio Marchisio, Juvea s best midfielder last season, is also still around to call upon, with the continued presence of Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Martin Caceres, Patrice Evra, Stephan Lichsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah showing how strong defensively Allegria s charges are. It has been a summer of change for the Bianconeri and it remains to be seen whether they can maintain their iron grip on the Serie A title.
New a Italiana Job for Sarri
Napoli tried to attract a big name coach to replace Benitez this summer- they pursued Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery but werena t able to lure them to Southern Italy. After failing to land a star, president Aurelio De Laurentiis took a big gamble in hiring Maurizio Sarri from Empoli.Sarri became a cult like figure at Empoli, where he was known for playing an offensive style of football. While almost every pundit expected Empoli to be relegated, the Tuscan club finished with 42 points and was never really in jeopardy of going back to Italya s second division. The strategy this season has been to target players who are well established in Serie A to ensure Sarri succeeds. They acquired regista Valdifiori from his former club Empoli, Udinese’s Allan (one of the best defensive midfielders in Italy the past few years) , brought back Pepe Reina and acquired Gabriel on loan from Milan to radically improve the goalkeeper position, which was a huge liability last season.
Napoli had already purchased a proven Serie A player last January in Manolo Gabbiadini who will be joined upfront by Lorenzo Insigne coming back from a knee injury. It also looks like Napoli will be able to hold on to Higuain and Mertens.They are still working on the defense, which has been their Achillesa heel for the past two seasons. They acquired Vlad Chiriches, and are pursuing Sassuoloa s Sime Vrsaljko and Torinoa s Nikola Maksimovic. Napoli are pursuing players that know Serie A and who should fit in well with Sarri. Empoli played a very entertaining style with players the average fan never heard of, it will be fascinating to see what Sarri can do with some big names.
Carpi and Frosinone look to upset the applecart in top flight
Originally founded in 1909, Carpia s first 91 years of existence were relatively mundane. Carpi itself only houses 70,000 people and its sporting ambitions are modest, so it comes as no surprise that four promotions in six years to catapult the rejuvenated club up to Italya s top flight has left locals reeling. This is reflected in their StadioSandroCabassi home, whose capacity doesna t even reach 4,500, not being passed fit to stage Serie A games. Instead they will play in Modenaa s Stadio Alberto Braglia, which lies 20km south.
Not everyone is revelling in Carpia s meteoric rise. A recent leaked phone conversation involving Lazio President Claudio Lotito claimed that their place in the top flight would damage the divisiona s television deals and marketing capacity. Carpia s 22-year-old Nigerian striker Jerry Mbakogu netted 15 goals and, alongside fellow promising attackers Kevin Lasagna and Roberto Inglese, they should be able to give Serie A defences a headache next season. Attacking midfielder Antonio Di Gaudio is in his sixth term at the club, taking them all the way to the top flight.In recent years it has been Carpia s regional rivals Sassuolohave made a name for themselves. The Neroverdi are the perfect trendsetter for Carpi to aspire to, and Serie A might just have another cat set amongst the pigeons.
Carpi may have stolen the Serie B headlines with their scintillating football and dominant title win, but they werena t the only fairy-tale story of the campaign. A fortnight after Carpi secured their first ever promotion to Serie A, Frosinone Calcio ensured that the top flight would have two debutants in 2015-16.Frosinone is a small town of 48,000 inhabitants, around 75km south of Rome. Despite being the third most notable club of the central Lazio region a behind the two Rome giants a it has spent most of its history in Italya s third tier, where they have traditionally held a fierce rivalry with regional neighbours Latina Calcio. One of the areas that Frosinone hold an advantage in is their stadium.
Unlike Carpi, the Canarini will play in their home arena a the 10,000 capacity Stadio Comunale Matusa. The cramped nature of the ground along with the backing of the ultras camped in the Curva Nord leads to an intimidating atmosphere.Their squad also carries a strong belief in the methods of 37-year-old manager Roberto Stellone a the former Napoli and Torino striker. Austrian midfielder Robert Gucher is the sidea s only non-Italian thus far, and the team is spearheaded by Daniel Ciofani and Federico Dionisi a two well-travelled lower division strikers. Club captain Alessandro Frara will lead his side in SerieA 13 years after his last spell at that level, where he was on loan with Bologna from Juventus.
The club seems intent on bolstering its ranks with loans, including 19-year-old Roma hitman Daniele Verde, ex-Genoa full-back Aleandro Rosi, Juventus goalkeeper Nicola Leali and Sassuoloa s Ghana international midfielder Raman Chibsah.Frosinone simply do not possess the glitz and glamour offerings of many of their Serie A rivals, but that didna t stop other minnows Chievo, Empoli or Sassuolo from establishing themselves in the top flight.