It’s been a while since there has been so much excitement before the start of a Serie A campaign. It’s only the middle of July, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism for Calcio fans, as putting Milan aside, all of the Serie A big guns have made a significant leap in quality compared to last year.
Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment at Napoli is expected to insert a much-needed winning mentality into the Partenopei’s game and is likely to tempt more top players at the club.
Unlike his predecessor Maurizio Sarri, Carletto would never tolerate Napoli’s shameful displays from last year in the Champions League, Europa League and Coppa Italia. Ancelotti is a proven winner, Sarri is not, and as much as Napoli fans were fond of their ex-Coach, his approach was holding their team back.
Another Scudetto contender, Roma managed to improve their financial stability and are putting together a very exciting and talented squad, which boasts some of the finest young players in Europe. Cengiz Under looks ready to make the next step after a very good debut season in Italy, while the arrivals of Justin Kluivert and Ante Coric for reasonable transfer fees mean that Roma now have three potential wonderkids in their squad.
The only disappointment for the tifosi of the Giallorossi so far has been Radja Nainggolan’s transfer to Inter, but Javier Pastore arrived and there is still plenty of time for Monchi to find another quality midfielder.
Speaking of Radja’s transfer to Inter, the Nerazzurri managed to pull of a remarkable deal for arguably Serie A’s best midfielder in the last couple of seasons and they did even better by snapping up Stefan De Vrij for freefrom Lazio. Rafinha’s departure and Joao Cancello’s transfer to Juventus are losses for Inter, but Champions League qualification makes a huge difference when it comes to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, so the Nerazzurri will undoubtedly make some big transfers before deadline day.
With the club finallyfinding some stability, Mauro Icardi set to stay and Luciano Spalletti ready to start his second season as their Coach, Inter has the potential to do something extraordinary.
When it comes to Lazio, the Biancocelesti’s narrow miss on a Champions League spot last year might cost them dearly, as they already lost their best defender, who departed for Inter. However, similarly to Spalletti, Simone Inzaghi is set to start his second season at the helm of the club, after doing remarkably well in his first one.
The arrivals of Francesco Acerbi from Sassuolo and Valon Berisha from Salzburg will add depth and increase the overall quality of the squad. Ciro Immobile looks set to stay and his presence would guarantee the goals. If Sergej Milinkovic-Savic does the same, Lazio can potentially be even stronger than last year. If the Serbian leaves, it would be for an excessive figure, which would allow the club to bring in more players, so regardless of the outcome of the saga, Lazio’s gain would be guaranteed.
Of course, we need to mention the cherry on the cake, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable arrival at Juventus will do wonders for the Bianconeri on and off the pitch. Ronaldo’s impact is so huge that the whole of Italian football will see increased revenues, just because of his presence in the league. On the field, it arguably makes their attacking force the best in Europa, as the Bianconeri currently have Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, Douglas Costa, Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi on their books.
While CR7s’ arrival means that Higuain will most likely leave, very few, if any, Juventini would complain. As things stand, Juventus look like one of the biggest favourites for the Champions League next year and while the Bianconeri were amongst the top contenders in previous seasons, next year they’ll have the biggest advantage - they won’t have to face Ronaldo.
It is really encouraging to see Napoli, Roma and Inter also looking ready for a serious Champions League run, which means that for a first time in a while, Italy will have four really good teams participating in the lost elite competition on the Continent.
The fight to enter the Europa League will be tougher than ever too, as Atalanta continue to not only churn out talent from their youth academy, but also purchase the likes of Colombia international Duvan Zapata from Sampdoria.
Fiorentina are determined to keep hold of Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone, while picking up very talented French goalkeeper Alban Lafont. Samp lost Lucas Torreira and Duvan Zapata, but brought in Jakub Jankto from Udinese and can develop Poland international Dawid Kownacki into a real star.
This is a clear sign of the growth of Italian football, which will be improved even further by Parma’s extraordinary revival and their return to Serie A. It is just the middle of July, but we can easily conclude even at this point - Calcio is stepping up.