With the champagne barely having been enjoyed from Inter’s title win and then Italy’s subsequent Euro 2020 triumph, it’s time to consider the upcoming Serie A campaign.
It’s been a rather quiet summer on the transfer front, and so – in theory at least – the league table should look something like it did in 2020/21.
That would be nice given that the Nerazzurri led the way by 12 points; that margin of victory could take some overhauling.
The blue-and-blacks of Inter were chased home by the red-and-blacks of AC Milan last term, and there has been more than a hint of online roulette about the latter’s transfer policy – losing two of your best players is undoubtedly a way to lessen your odds of winning.
The Rossoneri have gone all-in on their policy of hoping and praying that their youngsters fall on their feet.
Otherwise, it’s interesting to see how Juventus, Atalanta, Napoli and Roma have gone about their business. Inter’s own activity has perhaps been a net gain.
Achraf Hakimi will be a significant loss, certainly, but the introduction of Hakan Çalhanoğlu and a replacement rumored to be Denzel Dumfries, might make up for it.
But how have Serie A’s other big guns fared in the transfer window so far? Let’s take a look at some of the key players that have made their way in and out of Inter’s rivals to date.
While against their wishes, you have to question how AC Milan can bounce back from losing two key players in the off-season.
Nobody played more minutes for the Rossoneri last term than Donnarumma – the imposing goalkeeper who would be Italy’s hero at the Euros.
Çalhanoğlu contributed four goals and nine assists, and he will enjoy the switch to the blue side of Milan for sure.
The hierarchy at the Rossoneri has brought in Maignan, fresh from winning the French title with Lille, while Tomori will strengthen the defence.
AC Milan have opted not to bring in a playmaker to replace Çalhanoğlu, while their two striking options – Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimović – will lead the line at a combined age of 73. A significant regression from their second place in 2020/21 is not out of the question.
Free-spirited Atalanta continue to impress with their high-scoring ways, and their low-key transfer activity suggests that head coach Gian Piero Gasperini is hoping for more of the same.
On the acquisitions front, new keeper Juan Musso should be a safer pair of hands than the error prone Pierluigi Gollini, and if Atalanta can tighten up on the defensive front, they have the firepower to win any game of football.
More than €30m has been recouped from the sale of Barrow, Ibanez and Cornelius, none of whom were a feature of the first team picture. It’s been a positive summer for La Dea – could they be Inter’s biggest threat this term?
After their dismal fourth-place finish in 2020/21, most were expecting wholesale changes at the Bianconeri.
Off the pitch, popular manager Max Allegri has returned. He and the club have enjoyed plenty of success in the past, with his predecessor Andrea Pirlo arguably at fault for some of the Old Lady’s travails last season.
Perhaps surprisingly, Juve have not splashed out on new players this summer. Weston McKennie’s loan deal has been made permanent, while Giorgio Chiellini – initially released from the club at the end of his contract – has now re-signed. He will have turned 37 by the end of the campaign.
Manuel Locatelli has joined from Sassuolo in a deal worth €35 million as well which strengthens their midfield.
Again, much of the pressure will fall on the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo to win matches. He netted 38% of the team’s Serie A total last term. Relying on Ronaldo is fine unless he gets injured or finally shows signs of age.
The addition of Allegri is a plus, of course, but will that alone be enough to resurrect the former Italian football giant?
One of the dark horses for the Serie A title could be Napoli, although they will be led by former Inter boss Luciano Spalletti, who didn’t exactly blow anybody away at the San Siro.
However, Napoli have, so far at least, hung on to the likes of Koulibaly, Insigne and Zielinski, while another year under the belts of Victor Osimhen, Hirving Lozano and Fábian Ruiz will do their development no harm.
Matteo Politano, who delivered 13 goal contributions, has made his loan deal from Inter permanent, and while the loss of Elseid Hysaj will hurt to some extent, this still feels like a summer of net gain for the Partenopei.
Lazio impressed at times last season but fell away markedly towards the finishing line, and the loss of head coach Simone Inzaghi will hardly aid their quest for a repeat.
His successor, Maurizio Sarri, is well respected from his time at Napoli. It will be interesting to see if his high tempo style will be a match made in heaven or hell for Lazio.
They’ve brought in Hysaj, a reliable and versatile campaigner, while Felipe Anderson – a player with plenty of talent – will be hoping to put a nightmare 2020/21 behind him.
Former Chelsea winger Pedro has also joined on a free transfer from crosstown rivals Roma.
As with some other big guns in Serie A, much will depend on the goal-getting capabilities of Ciro Immobile – if he fails to fire, the Biancocelesti may struggle to keep up with the leaders.
What will Jose Mourinho bring to Roma? That is the main question ahead of their campaign.
Although considered something of a ‘dinosaur’ in his last managerial role at Manchester United, the Special One’s tactical, conservative style is ideal for Serie A.
This job might be the one that rekindles his career as an elite-level head coach.
He will have plenty of talent to work with in Rome, and no major losses has been complemented by the signing of the experienced Rui Patrício and the return of Roger Ibanez.
Good things are expected from Roma this term, but how high can Mourinho fly on his Italian return?