New Coach, new players, but will there be the same success for Empoli? Barney Lloyd-Wood weighs up their chances.
A very positive pre season is just what was needed for new coach Marco Giampaolo ahead of the new season. Last season’s 15th place finish does not tell the full story of encouraging football played during the last campaign at Carlo Castellani, with a few notable breakthrough talents. The Tuscan side started last season with the lowest wage bill in the division, so comfortably achieving safety was a notable success
However, that success has proven to be a double-edged sword, with Empoli’s top talent being poached by their bigger rivals. Coach Maurizio Sarri has departed for Napoli, taking Mirko Valdifiori and Elseid Hysaj with him. Young defender Daniele Rugani’s fine form has seen him recalled to Juventus, while Simone Verdi has gone back to Milan.
Another notable absentee comes with the departure of long time servant to the club Francesco Tavano. While perhaps not the key figure he had been in recent seasons, Tavano was a big figure in the dressing room.
Empoli have, however, managed to hold on to a few key men from last season. Despite links with Napoli, Max Tonelli will remain with the club for the coming campaign, while Riccardo Saponara has also remained, and provides genuine quality.
With the new season approaching, the Empoli faithful will be hoping the changes at the club do not result in a downturn after their positive upsurge last season. It could be a big season to come for the Tuscan club.
Marco Giampaolohas a tough act to follow. Last season’s exploits were largely attributed to the meticulous work ofMaurizio Sarri, his attention to detail earning him the Napoli job. Giampaolo does not come with much top flight experience, and hasn’t enjoyed much stability in his career so far. Empoli will be his seventh club since his first bench role 11 years ago. He endured a fairly turbulent time during his last spell atBrescia,and was sacked by Cesena in 2011 with the club bottom of Serie A.
With the departure of Francesco Tavano, experience is needed, but more importantly, a proven goal scorer. The former Middlesbrough man has 50 goals in 131 appearances for the club and should Empoli be drawn into a relegation battle, his eye for goal will be needed.
With Luigi Sepe’s loan ending, the Polish international has joined from Roma. He has pedigree, having played in the Champions League last season against Manchester City, and will be looking to show the Giallorossi what he can do in this loan spell.
With the European Championships on the horizon, it could be a big season ahead for the versatile midfielder. Used in a trequartista role by the former boss, his link-up play could just be what Antonio Conte is looking for.
SKORUPSKI; COSTA, CAMPORESE, Rui, Laurinini; Signorelli, GUARENTE, Saponara, Croce; Maccarone, Pucciarelli.
If new Coach Giampaolo can implement his ideas early, the squad should have enough quality to keep them away from the danger zone.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.