Teams are back in training just about everywhere around the world. The mercato is in full swing as Sporting Directors are hard at work shoring up their sides for the coming season.
And in roughly 25 days, the 2017/18 Serie A season will kick off.
It will be hard to top the previous season and all the storylines, but with what many of Italy’s top teams are up to, we are in for a fun ride.
So why not update my previous list of table predictions. In this update, I’ll have the key gets as well as the key departures, and what the outlook is for each team.
Let’s dive right in. This is based on transfers completed through July 25th.
- Key Gets: Wojciech Szczesny, Mattia De Sciglio, Rodrigo Betancur, Douglas Costa, and Federico Bernardeschi.
- Key Departures: Leonardo Bonucci, Dani Alves, Neto.
- Outlook: They are still the standard bearers of Italy no matter what everyone else is doing to improve their squads. There will be concerns with Bonucci’s departure to be sure, but there is enough experience to handle it. Losing Dani Alves might be a bigger blow. Douglas Costa and Bernardeschi are playmaking midfielders that can give the Old Lady width, and make the attack even more dynamic than before. Could still use another solid player in midfield.
- Key Gets: Adam Ounas, Mario Rui
- Key Departures: None
- Outlook: Again, the attack that produced 97 goals last season remains intact. Mario Rui will be familiar with Sarri’s style as he played under him at Empoli. If you follow some of the key Napoli guys out there in social media, they are high on Ounas too. Still, a better goalkeeper (talk of Geronimo Rulli arriving) and depth at center back would be a big help for the Partenopei to challenge for the Scudetto.
- Key Gets: Leonardo Bonucci, Mateo Musacchio, Andre Silva, Andrea Conti, Ricardo Rodriguez, Franck Kessie, Lucas Biglia, and Hakan Calhanoglu.
- Key Departures: Mattia De Sciglio, Juraj Kucka, and Gianluca Lapadula.
- Outlook: Bonucci is the statement signing that transcends the Chinese owners’ project. Plenty of talk as well that, even with the impressive haul of talent, the Rossoneri are not done. In addition to the departures above, they are likely to move on Carlos Bacca as well. Again, a far better team than the one that finished the 2016/17 on paper, but they have yet to play a significant match. Hard to put them ahead of Napoli or Juventus until that happens.
- Key Gets: Rick Karsdorp, Cengiz Under, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Hector Moreno, Gregoire Defrel, Maxime Gonalons, and Aleksandar Kolarov.
- Key Departures: Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger, and Leandro Paredes.
- Outlook: Eusebio Di Francesco has arrived from Sassuolo and has brought a couple key pieces from that team with him. Szczesny’s loan deal is done and he’s now backing up Gigi Buffon at Juve, so it will be interesting if the quality goalkeeping will continue. It should between Allisson and Skorupski. Replacing Salah will be tough but there is enough returning, and the additions provide the Giallorossi with depth and flexibility. Still, 2nd place and 87 points will be a tough task to match. Also, Kostas Manolas has been heavily speculated to move away from the Eternal City, which – with the departure of Rudiger – could further hurt the back line.
- Key Gets: Milan Skriniar and Borja Valero.
- Key Departures: Gianluca Caprari and Ever Banega.
- Outlook: This is still an incomplete team as far as the mercato is concerned. I still think they’ll have about 4-5 new faces before the window closes. This is an improved team just from the arrival of Luciano Spalletti, as he was terrific at Roma last season under challenging circumstances. Matias Vecino may arrive from Fiorentina and Ivan Perisic has been long discussed as a departure, which would be a blow for the Nerazzurri.
- Key Gets: Timothy Castagne, Josip Ilicic, and Andreas Cornelius.
- Key Departures: Andrea Conti and Franck Kessie.
- Outlook: Some of this might be an indictment on the teams below them not doing much to strengthen their teams so far. However, Atalanta have quietly done very good business to build a team that can compete in Serie A and Europa League. Castagne and Cornelius have experience in European competition, while Ilicic is a Serie A veteran. Departures were inevitable from their impressive 4th place finish from last season, but Papu Gomez is still there. I see Atalanta being just as strong as last season. Promising Juve youngster Riccardo Orsolini also joins this team on loan.
- Key Gets: Lucas Leiva.
- Key Departures: Lucas Biglia and Danilo Cataldi.
- Outlook: Another team that is incomplete at the moment. Keita Balde could be on the way out before the mercato closes but so far they’ve been successful in hanging on to everyone else who was part of qualifying for this season’s Europa League. Lazio could be a team that might be selling Keita and maybe another player before buying again. They’ll need to get some depth to compete in multiple competitions this season. For now, Atalanta have passed them from the last prediction I did with the business they have done.
- Key Gets: Victor Hugo, Jordan Veretout, and Sebastian Cristoforo
- Key Departures: Federico Bernardeschi, Borja Valero, and Josep Ilicic
- Outlook: Is there one? Is it consolidation or are they a threat for a European finish? La Viola sit 8th in my table simply because they’re a distance off the 7 in front of them, whilst Torino and Sampdoria have not done enough to move ahead of them. Veretout brings set piece taking as part of his skillset, and had a decent season at St Etienne in France after the disaster that was being part of Aston Villa’s relegation from the Premier League. The losses are big, and there may be one or two more, in particular leading scorer Nikola Kalinic. What this will lead to is an opportunity for promising youngster Federico Chiesa to step up. They’ll need him.
— ACF Fiorentina (@acffiorentina) July 25, 2017
- Key Gets: Salvatore Sirigu
- Key Losses: None
- Outlook: The defense can only get better right? Salvatore Sirigu is an experienced goalkeeper that cost Torino nothing. Andrea Belotti is still a Torino player- for now, though he was conspicuous by his absence from Torino’s home kit unveiling. Torino have a good baseline of players and consistency with their manager, Sinisa Mihaijlovic. Whether Belotti stays, or how they spend the money they’ll get for him, will determine if Torino have any upward mobility from this position.
- Key Gets: Gianluca Caprari and Nicola Murru.
- Key Departures: Milan Skriniar, Luis Muriel, Bruno Fernandes, and Luca Cigarini
- Outlook: It feels like Samp should be doing more here in the summer window, but Marco Giampaolo and co seem content with the business they’ve done. Czech starlet Patrick Schick is still a part of the Blucherati, for now. Luis Muriel had a breakthrough season, but his productivity needs replacing and Caprari, while decent with Pescara last season, is no Muriel. This is a team that, at the moment, will be mid table again and will prioritize being the best team in Genoa.
- Key Gets: None
- Key Departures: Thomas Herteaux
- Outlook: Not doing much either way in the summer might be the best thing for Luigi Del Neri’s men. Udinese have a nice young nucleus of players who appear to remain together, along with depth in goal having both Simone Scuffet and Alex Meret to call on. One of them may be moved or loaned, and Duvan Zapata’s time with the Zebrette is up as well. However, this is a team that could find its way in the top half should the likes of Seko Fofana and Rodrigo De Paul improve on last season.
- Key Gets: Manuel Pucciarelli
- Key Departures: Nicolas Spolli and Mariano Izco.
- Outlook: Chievo has taken Pucciarelli off the books from Empoli for a season as the latter are in Serie B. A good get to go with other attacking options like Lucas Castro, Roberto Inglese, and the ageless Sergio Pelissier. The defending is a worry, and maybe moving on from Spolli and Izco and going younger will help. Another player that could be intriguing is Gianluca Gaudino, a 20 year old who was in the youth setup at Bayern Munich. He arrives for next to nothing.
- Key Gets: Gianluca Lapadula, Andrea Bertolacci, and Nicolas Spolli
- Key Departures: Mauricio Pinilla
- Outlook: Mattia Perin is still with Genoa and I almost listed him as a key get for the Grifone. The goalkeeper was lost to injury at the start of the second half of the season and Genoa practically self-destructed after losing him. Also still around is Giovanni Simeone; he and Lapadula could make an interesting 1-2 scoring punch. Another team that are in a good spot to move up from this current position.
- Key Gets: Sapher Taider, Sebastian De Maio, and Andrea Poli
- Key Departures: None
- Outlook: Taider joins permanently from Inter, and in Poli, Bologna get a workhorse midfielder that just couldn’t get regular first team football at Milan. Their biggest win is still having Mattia Destro and Simone Verdi, who can provide them a solid scoring combination. Not a threat for a top half finish, but a side that will set out to bother the big boys.
- Key Gets: Marco Andreolli and Luca Cigarini
- Key Departures: Nicola Murru, Victor Ibarbo, Mauricio Isla, Bruno Alves, and Davide Di Gennaro.
- Outlook: Murru, Isla, and Alves were part of a defense that was worst in Serie A last season, so it’s hard to say the Sardinian faithful will really miss them. Andreolli comes over from Inter to shore up the defense. Marco Borriello found his scoring form last season and Cagliari will rely on him and the attack to continue in carrying them to survival.
- Key Gets: None
- Key Departures: Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gregoire Defrel
- Outlook: Congratulations to Cristian Bucchi on becoming next manager at Sassuolo. Good news is that this is the place that launched the managerial careers of Massimiliano Allegri and Eusebio di Francesco. Bad news? Pellegrini and Defrel went to Roma with Di Francesco, and others may be leaving. They’ll be replaced with younger players who lack the experience their predecessors have. Survival will be the goal. Good luck!
- Key Gets: Alessio Cerci, Bruno Zuculini, and Thomas Herteaux
- Key Departures: None, but if you want to qualify Antonio Cassano’s arrival, then departure through retirement, go ahead.
- Outlook: Verona are hoping they are getting Torino Cerci and not the disappointment he was in the seasons after that with Atletico Madrid and Milan. His ability to provide service to Giampaolo Pazzini will be key. This is a veteran team for one that was promoted, and of the three new teams, are best equipped for survival. Antonio Cassano arrived, then quit, then came back, and now retired. Or did he? Either way, Hellas Verona are better off without him.
- Key Gets: Leandro Cabrera and Mariano Izco.
- Key Departures: None
- Outlook: Diego Falcinelli as he pertains to Crotone supporters, is a key departure, though is owned by Sassuolo. For this team to get an unthinkable third season, his productivity will have to be made up and as of now it’s hard to point out who will take those reins. Cabrera will give them some help defensively, and Izco offers the dressing room some much-needed experience. Manager Davide Nicola has a tough task on his hands to keep this team up again.
- Key Gets: Alberto Paloschi and Felipe
- Key Departures: None
- Outlook: SPAL are trying to patch this together through cheap-to-free signings and loans as they clearly don’t have the budget for anything better. Paloschi will be counted on to provide the scoring punch provided last season by Milan loanee Gianmarco Zigoni. Alex Meret was also a key figure for this team’s promotion to Serie A last season, but the young Italian goalkeeper is owned by Udinese. As things stand, it looks to be a rough experience for SPAL.
- Key Gets: Danilo Cataldi, Gaetano Letizia, Andrea Costa, and Massimo Coda.
- Key Departures: None
- Outlook: As I said, it’s been a meteoric (and maybe too rapid) rise for Benevento to get to the top flight. Cataldi, Letizia, Costa and Coda offer the experience that Benevento are sorely lacking. However, like SPAL, they are a team that are going to find the waters in Serie A to be awfully choppy. We said this about Crotone last season, so maybe one of these teams can prove me wrong.