After a year in Serie B, Bologna return to the Italian top flight under a new stable ownership group, and with a squad ready to ensure they stay put in the first division for years to come, writes Marco D’Onofrio.
After the club started coming undone at the end of last season, Coach Diego Lopez was sacked, and Delio Rossi was brought in. With Rossi at the helm, the Rossoblu beat Avellino and Pescara in the Serie B play-offs, to book their return to Serie A at the first time of asking.
American lawyer Joe Tacopina and Canadian businessman Joey Saputo took over the team last season, and with their resources, the club has brought in some experience during the summer mercato to help with the transition to top flight football.
The Rossoblu have signed midfielder Matteo Brighi on a free transfer from Sassuolo, as well as striker Franco Brienza who played for Cesena last season. At 34 and 36-years-old the pair may have seen better days, but they have both featured for the Azzurri in the past, and bring a plethora of experience to a team looking for leadership.
The club's biggest additions though may have been defenders Luca Rossetini who spent the last three seasons with Cagliari, Daniele Gastaldello who was at Sampdoria since 2007, and goalkeeper Antonio Mirante who has been one of the best in the peninsula over the past couple of seasons with Parma. Rossetini, Gastaldello, and Mirante will help the club deal with the upgrade of strikers the team will be up against this season.
Despite the influx of new players this off-season, Rossi's men have won three of their four preseason matches, beating the likes of Rappresentativa Sciliar. Ahli Alkhaleel, and Sudtirol. Their only loss was against Serie B side, Spezia, who won 2-1.
Bologna finally have the solid foundation that one of the country's most storied clubs deserves, and with the addition of several veterans during the summer mercato, expect them to remain in the first division of Italian football for years to come.
With the 54-year-old tactician coaching the likes of Atalanta, Lazio, Palermo, Fiorentina, and Sampdoria, in the past, Rossi understands what it takes to get the job done at the highest level. He inherited a promotion battle last season when he was hired in May, and proved his worth by leading the club back to the top flight.
Bringing in experience at the back in Rossetini and Gastaldello will help Bologna compete against some of the peninsula's best. The club needed top flight experience at the back and they've certainly acquired that in the two veterans.
The shot-stopper had been with Parma since 2009, and was a big reason for their success the season before last. His quality play was often overlooked with all the distractions off the field at Tardini last season. His quality and experience will be a big boost for Bologna this year.
The young midfielder is currently on a two-year loan from Inter and could be a real star for the Azzurri one day. He has played for Italy from the U-16 through the U-21 level, and at just 22-years-old, has a lot of potential to be a real stud for club and country.
MIRANTE; M'baye, GASTALDELLO, ROSSETINI, Masina, BRIGHI, CRISETIG, RIZZO; BRIENZA; Acquafresca, Cacia
The Rossoblu may struggle at times this season, but they have a good makeup of young talent mixed with a veteran presence that understands what it takes to compete in the top flight.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.