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Sunday July 15 2018
Mid-table clubs aiming higher

The Scudetto contenders might grab all the headlines, but Serie A's mid-table sides are really strengthening this summer, explains Billy Wilkinson.

Whilst the top of the Serie A pack grows stronger with arrivals like Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus and Inter fixing the holes in their team, it appears Serie A’s middle pack are just as busy making important moves.

As always, those who are not blessed with rich owners or a lucrative financial model are forced to find different ways to be successful. Fiorentina’s method is buying promising talent and then developing them into world beaters and their strategy is clearly on show this summer.

Toulouse goalkeeper Alban Lafont was being reportedly chased by a number of big clubs including Arsenal and Liverpool, but La Viola’s promise of first team football sooner rather than later appeared to be too much to turn down for the 19-year-old. Stefano Pioli seems intent on fixing his leaky defence that let down Fiorentina last season.

The arrival of David Hancko from KS Zilina showcases Fiorentina’s plan in the best light. While all the top clubs are hoovering up the best Serie A talent, undervalued leagues possess great untapped potential. Hancko’s price tag of €4m may seem steep for a 20-year-old from the Slovenian league, but the youngster offers a no nonsense approach that is far beyond his years.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta side have become the hallmark for an innovative, well-run Serie A club that achieves relative success at the same time. Duvan Zapata may have been the butt of many jokes during his time in Naples, but since then he’s developed into a more than respectable Serie A striker.

The Colombian’s 11 goals in 2,113 minutes last season, representing an almost one in two record, is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at. Atalanta were the fifth most prolific side in Serie A last year, only four goals beyond third placed Roma. Their defensive identity has stood firm since Gasperini took over, so it might be all guns blazing next season.

Youngsters have been the main focus for Atalanta this summer, with a host of highly talented Primavera players making up the bulk of their business. Davide Bettella represents a modern ball playing defender that can help ease the pain of losing Mattia Caldara, whilst 19-year-old Marco Tumminello represents a calculated gamble for their front line.

Sampdoria were the surprise team for most of the season last year, before trailing off due to their putrid away form and seemingly dwindled sense of desire. Serie A’s best buy of the summer may have already been completed with Marco Giampaolo taking Jakub Jankto on loan from Udinese with a compulsory purchase option of €15m.

The attacking midfielder from the Czech Republic scored four goals and assisted a further five as well as 1.7 key passes per game for an appalling Udinese side last year and could be thanked for them not being relegated. The 22-year-old was reportedly chased by a number of Serie A clubs, as well as Arsenal in England, but surprisingly Sampdoria secured his signature. He offers a clear upgrade on Gaston Ramirez at the tip of Giampaolo’s 4-3-1-2, an incredibly vital position.

Another intriguing signing is that of Omar Colley from Genk for €7.75m. It was ultimately Samp’s defence that let them down last season, with a whopping 60 goals conceded. Colley may not be ready to contribute straight away but the 25-year-old offers a strong presence for a weak back line. Sampdoria’s summer business is presumably not complete, with €30m in transfer funds being received from Arsenal for Lucas Torreira.

With the World Cup on, summer business may have been slow, but smart clubs still manage to act fast. Some of the business by Serie A’s middle pack may be making the likes of Milan and Lazio a bit more concerned about where their summer business is heading.

Have your say...
If Atalanta can keep Papu, they can make a good run in the Europa league. Milan will fall below mid table, and Fiorentina can move up, especially if they get Pjaca on loan.
on the 16th July, 2018 at 8:52pm
@ PAZZO1908, @paolo

Please shut up! AC Milan & Internazionale both are MID TABLE CLUBS now. LOL
on the 16th July, 2018 at 8:21am
the issue is that the mid table teams have also let go of key players as you think of atalanta losing cristante caldara and kurtic or fiorentina losing rebic gaspar and badeji. Atalanta only the only real mid table to add more than a quality player samp only real signing was jankto and ferrari fiorentina went out and signed a bunch of defenders.

As for torino izzo mieta niang are interesting signing but not enough plus losing barreca, still if they kept belotti edera baselli could be a good
on the 15th July, 2018 at 2:24pm
I think its safe to say that milan is a mid level club, no?
on the 15th July, 2018 at 2:20pm
This article perfectly sums up the Italian mentality that has led to the decline of our nazionale “While all the top clubs are hoovering up the best Serie A talent, undervalued leagues possess great untapped potential”. That right guys, continue scouting all these undervalued league, it is sure to bring our football back.
on the 15th July, 2018 at 1:40pm
By far, Atalanta has always been the mid-table team blowing my mind away. Their nature of breeding young talents never seem to end, whoever their coach is, they always manage to combine solid teamwork between the youngsters & more experienced ones.
Such a shame, they never win any prestigious trophies aside from 1 Coppa Italia.
Atalanta has always been the one to watch for when it comes to underdogs.
on the 15th July, 2018 at 12:28pm
Jankto is a quality player, but needs to mature a lot to take the next step. Cost us many games last season and was a problem in the dressing room
on the 15th July, 2018 at 3:33am

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