Saturday February 16 2013
The State of Serie A

As a raft of stars leave Serie A, possibly joined by Edinson Cavani, Alex Mott wonders whether Italian football has lost its lustre

All good things come to an end. And for Napoli fans, that denouement could be very soon. Reports this week have claimed that Edinson Cavani could be the subject of summer bids from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, with both clubs willing to pay the 26-year-old’s €63m release clause.

 It’s another story in a long line linking the Uruguayan striker away from the San Paolo and despite his recent contract renewal, the momentum is gaining pace for Cavani to depart the Partenopei in the near future.

The likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Arsenal have hinted at their interest in the former Palermo man, and even with Napoli’s sound financial structure and wealthy backer, they certainly wouldn’t baulk at the thought of an extra €63m in the coffers – even if it did mean parting with their best player.

It’s a dilemma that President Aurelio De Laurentiis will no doubt wrestle with at the end of the current campaign, but just the mere mention of Cavani’s future shows where Serie A is in the current pecking order of European football.

Having slipped into fourth place in the UEFA co-efficient rankings behind the Bundesliga, the Italian top-flight is no longer afforded four Champions League places, and is in fact closer to France’s Ligue 1 than it is to the German League. Les Parisiens emergence as a continental force – with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore leading the line – could mean that within two or three years calcio will slip to fifth in the charts – a fate frankly unthinkable a few years ago.

Since Jose Mourinho’s departure from Inter back in 2010, Italian football has been on a steady decline that has seen a raft of big-name players leave the peninsula for better wages, better atmospheres and better football.

The three previously listed at PSG, Thiago Silva, Wesley Sneijder, Alexandre Pato and perhaps most worryingly of all Marco Verratti, have all left Italian shores for challenges elsewhere in France, Turkey and Brazil.

It’s a truly worrying state of affairs for fans of Serie A who have been spoilt for over 25 years with some of the greatest players of a generation. A lack of television money, sparse crowds, unsafe stadiums, persistent stories of racist chanting and a continuing economic crisis have turned some of Europe’s top stars of off calcio with alarming regularity.

It has meant, however, that the country’s top clubs have turned their attentions to promoting exciting youth talents. Stephan El Shaarawy, Mattia De Sciglio, Lorenzo Insigne and a host of others have come through in the last 12 to 18 months, turning Serie A from a retirement home to a League where young players can flourish.

It’s a paradox that strikes at the heart of all supporters, from the most casual to the fanatical. Is it right for the Italian top-flight to be the next Ligue 1 or Eredivisie – harnessing Under-21 stars and selling them on for profit? Or should owners on the peninsula be breaking the bank to keep their marquee names – a la Cavani?

Perhaps there can be a balancing act between those two fundamentals. And do truly world-class players make for truly world-class matches anyway? Right now, we are at a crossroads in Italian football. It’s a fascinating period to be witnessing, and whatever happens over the next few years will change calcio for a generation.

Lazio sporting director Igli Tare told German magazine Kicker on Thursday: “I can assure you, having watched games all over Europe, the Italian championship is still the best.” We may not attract names such as Diego Maradona, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit anymore, but it’s not all bad.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
well taking the topic "stars" forward....the german league as such dosent have any foreign star in their whole league except maybe for your ribery and robben ,everyone else who is known worldwide are german...invest on italian youth ..unlike the foreigners ..they remain loyal....i could have easily seen sharawy moving if he was not an italian...i for one think that italian football is changing for the main concern is the stadiums something ought to be done
on the 16th February, 2013 at 6:06pm
Serie A is on ye way up again not down! The rise of Juventus has put it on the map again and when you look at the squads being developed by Milan, inter, Napoli, Lazio and Roma then the future looks very bright. As all these teams develop we will see a spectacular league develop that will surely have some great football! Italian football does need to forget all it's conspiracy theories though. It ruins the rep of the league. Forza Serie A, Forza Juve :)
on the 16th February, 2013 at 5:58pm
@Stu, "Don't let Mourinho's treble year fool you, Calciopoli handed everything on a plate to one single team, severely hurting our competitiveness as a nation."???

I am fed up with statements like that! Inter winning the CL had nothing to do with Calciopoli, they won against English champions Chelsea, Spanish champions Barcelona and German champions Bayern to win the title.

They won the treble because of their hunger, dedication and unbelievable unity...
on the 16th February, 2013 at 5:50pm
FORZA MILAN. We're back in CL spot. We got a team with younger players then any other Italian team. Oh, and we go Niang, Balo, Ses, De Sciglio, Abate, Boateng, Bojan, Montelivo etc. the List goes on.. Any person who neglects Seria A and believes it on its downfall is a fool.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 5:11pm
Is the goal of this article to be as pessimistic as possible about Serie A? You say France is overtaking Italy in Europe. Italy has outperformed France in co-efficient for the last 5 years, and is currently this year.

You say big stars are leaving. Pato didn't play regularly for 2 years. Sneijder too. Silva left because it was a record-setting transfer fee for defenders. Balotelli just arrived and Llorente is on his way. While young stars are being groomed within the big clubs.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 4:57pm
U know I always been milan fan even when they where saying that its retarment house but now I'm very happy that we have the most promising young players sharawy mattia de. Valoti mastour balotteli nyang to name few and like always itlia league is the best z u will never know who's gone win sometimes a team of bottom standigs win top team not like other leagues that sometime finish 8-0 or 7-0
on the 16th February, 2013 at 4:56pm
Palermo who are rock bottom of serie a and fighting for their lives would demolish any team in the bottom half of any other league in the world. Italian football has depth in its quality and it is spread over the entire league. Every stadium is a fortress, you never see
5-0 score lines it is the strongest league tactically by a country mile. No teams can be written off even when top plays bottom
on the 16th February, 2013 at 4:22pm
The good thing about this article is that it has generated an intelligent debate. What it fails to do, is point out the failings in the English, Spanish, & French leagues: as if Italy is alone with its problems. I haven't mentioned Germany, because I believe that they are setting a fine example-particularly in the treatment of their fans. If Italy had the same finances/infrastructure as England & German leagues, we would be out in front!
on the 16th February, 2013 at 4:03pm
SerieA still and always be one of the best ligue. I already watch Ligue 1 matches. SerieA still better than them. Cavani leaving SerieA? So be it. We still have; Buffon, Pirlo, Marchisio, Vidal, Chiellini, Vucinic, Asamoah, Lichsteiner, Pogba, Inler, Hamsik, Jovetic, Hernanes, Klose, De Rossi, Totti, Di Natale,etc. Serie A doesn't need mercenary player. Remember semifinal CL 2003? Real Madrid with their so called "the galacticos". Juve beat them. It was the year of ALL ITALIAN FINAL.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 3:48pm
agree 100% with Interista23

Currently as of 16/02/2012

Bayern are a whopping 18 points ahead of 2nd placed Dortmund.
Barcelona (surprise surprise) are 12 points clear in the 2-3 horse race that is La Liga.
Man U are 12 points clear of the highly marketed EPL where they win without much trouble with occasional title grabs from Chelsea & now Manchester City (both artificially grown clubs.).

Serie A - Juventus are 5 points clear, Napoli are second, not the traditional Inter or AC.

You choose
on the 16th February, 2013 at 3:36pm
I can only agree with the comments. As an austrian I' ve always been close to italian culture. What serie a need is people to argue against those stupid over-hyped money leagues. On what grounds, except for the Uefa coifficient thing, can the germans claim they have the better league? england is, tactically at least, a ridiculous league. Spain 2 teams. People should wirte more articels to defend italian serie a. point out why it is a attractive league.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 3:01pm
funny article. thats why juventus whopped the rich english 3:0. players come and go, cavani probaly will leave italy, but falcao will leave spain, bale will leave england. Big deal, its also funny how the article says its sad top players like PATO and SNEIJDER left serie a ? they didnt even get a kick at milan and inter respectively, and you didnt even mention in the article that serie a was the second biggest spenders in january with TOP CLASS players like ROSSI,BALOTELLI and Kovacic arriving.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 2:29pm
Who is this Alex Mott anyway? And what qualifies this random Twitter user to criticize Serie A without making any insights whatsoever regarding it, and not displaying any knowledge at all regarding it? He's regurgitating stories from three months ago about Cavani's release clause, that's not something every user of this site didn't know already. Seriously FI, we aren't a bunch of clueless EPL fans going "omg rooney n messi da best herp derp go manu," we expect articles of a higher quality.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 2:24pm
Also, Im very sceptical of how UEFA have justified taking our fourth spot. Over the last ten years in the CL there have been three italian winners n one beaten finalist, while all the germans have managed is two final defeats n not much else, n I dont remember them doin that well in the UEFAcup. So how the hell have they racked up so many more points than us? I think this is Platini trying to make his mark on the game by promoting the germans while screwing us over. Fair point? Discuss people!
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:49pm
Cavani may well leave to play in a modern arena for huge money, but to play better football?! Get the hell outa town! I watch all the football ESPN show n can honestly say SerieA is the best quality by far. The plastic fans n docile consumers of other leagues are great for the tax men but Ill take fickle italian crowds n superb technical football any day. FORZA SERIEA!!!
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:38pm
Serie A is still much better than Ligue 1. Bundesliga is clearly on the rise, while the EPL is debt-ridden. This article hasn't mentioned Financial Fair Play and in this respect I want to ask you whether Man City and PSG can still afford to pay 63m with the system set to get the all clear next season? Both teams are currently in the danger zone and with Napoli heading for the CL again maybe we shouldn't be too sceptical about losing Cavani. Also don't forget Rossi and Balotelli returned to Italy
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:37pm
gloomy story, and I think it is a bit unmerited. 1.Juventus are looking good and with great stadium. If the Milanese clubs can copy Juventus they can do well. 2. Italy has always had three big clubs- Juve, ACM and inter. This is one more than Spain, and two more than Germany and France.
3. PSG, Chelsea and Man City are not really big clubs. If their owners decides to walk away, these clubs will be small fish again.
4. Finally, Serie A will always have Italian players= quality and intelligence
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:27pm
I wish Napoli would become a mid-table-team. don't derserve CL with that attitude in EL meaning a loss of coefficient points.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:22pm
Look at the number of Italians playing in the current Juventus and Milan sides. Can the same be said for any top teams in the premiership, indeed any other top league? At the end of the day Cavani may leave but he will never be the Cavani of Napoli. The remarkable thing about Serie A is that it will continue to nurture and unearth foreign and local talent irrespective of who goes. Let the mercenaries leave and the true greats like Gigi Buffon, Francesco Totti and the younger genera etc. remain.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:19pm
A new stadium can be built between 80-120 mill. meaning in 5-6 years the clubs will have paid the loan. Naming rights would be an addition.Get going Serie A like Juventus.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:19pm
that are currently happening in the premier league, Spain and with PSG are wholly unsustainable in the long term. Yes series A's best players might leave but the technical and coaching leadership will remain and our national game is in excellent health. Let the superstars leave and young Italian talent prosper. Series problem is a structural one: non-ownership of stadia and a lack of support from the bureaucracy that stifles more than just football.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:13pm
Whilst Italian football maybe suffering now from image and financial liquidity, they are correcting what is wrong in other leagues like England, Spain, & France. Those league are going to burst financially and end up crippled within 5 years. Only the German league has a good balance right now. Italy will suffer for a few more years but ultimately will become the best once again.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:12pm
There is ONE PROBLEM that is the main factor - stadums. Juventus earn 20 mill. more per year because of their new stadium - almost the same as if you participate in CL. Where would you as a player choose to play. In an half empty stadium with running tracks or a full arena with modern facilities like many places in Germany. One thing that can attract players to the peninsula is beautiful cities and good weather. Hopefully other clubs will follow the Old Lady's example and build 20.000 to 50.000
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:10pm
I don't know why Alex Mott writes articles on this site. His clear bias against Serie A and Italian football has been clear from almost every article he has written. First his statement that the French league is going to overtake Serie A is wrong. In reality Mott, the French league is doing worse in the co-efficient than they have in the past and are at risk of being overtaken by Portugal and Ukraine. There is no doubt that Serie A doesn't have the buying power it once had, however, the transfer
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:07pm
There is plenty of foreign talent to be found in Serie A, players who stick in the mind currently are:

Vidal, Pogba, Vucinic, Lamela, Pjanic, Jovetic, Roncaglia, Valero, Icardi, Cavani, Inler, Hamsik, Guarin, Handanovic, Boateng, Benatia, Klose, Hernanes, Belfodil, Biabiany, etc.

That's not to mention the Italian talent:

Di Natale, Pirlo, Buffon, Chiellini, Marchisio, Barzagli, Montolivo, Balotelli, ElSha, Insigne, Rossi, Cassano, Totti, De Rossi, etc.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:04pm
So was Farsopoli worth it, everyone? Is this what you wanted?
on the 16th February, 2013 at 1:01pm
I actually think Calcio is on a steady incline. The likes of Sneijder & Pato left because they could no longer cut it, whereas Verratti was a huge gamble at €12m. Ibra & Thiago left due to Milan's new policy of bringing in young players, but have been swiftly replaced by the likes of El Sharaawy & Balotelli.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 12:58pm
Since Mourinho's treble win in 2010, Italian football went into a slump, remember that 2010 final, Inter had to win without going to extra time for Serie A to have 4 champions league spots.

Well it didn't make a difference when you get teams like Udinese finishing 3rd in Serie A only to sell most if not all their stars the following season & to crash out of Europe early.

Right now the only way for Italian football is up & with Juventus, Lazio & both Milan clubs, hopefully that will change...
on the 16th February, 2013 at 12:53pm
Serie A may be struggling financially, but I have seen a marked improvement on the field of late. The league is competitive from top to bottom, the games are entertaining, & the quality is high. Aside from Napoli,(because of Mazzarri's poor attitude towards the EL), we are starting to improve in Europe: Lazio, Inter, & Juve could potentially win their competitions-something that I haven't been confident of for quite some time. I feel that there are many things to feel positive about.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 12:28pm
The best thing about having little money is that we are now focusing more on developing our young players. Even if we were loaded with cash, I would still rather we focus on young players, instead of paying extortionate transfer fees, wages, bonuses. The BPL is flush with cash, but has lost it's soul, and is moving ever further from the real fans. Losing Cavani will be a blow, but if that money is invested in a new stadium & youth development then, IMO, that is a good thing.
on the 16th February, 2013 at 12:20pm

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