Out with the old, in with the new, but can Gian Piero Gasperini keep up the last term’s style of play? The biggest conundrum facing Genoa is how not to become victims of their own achievements, writes Dave Stacey.
This time last year the speculation surrounded whether a new-look attack could fire the Grifone into European contention or simply continue their mid-table mediocrity. The doubters were emphatically answered with a sixth-place finish and the club’s highest points tally since 2008/09. However, after another summer of losing key men and major rebuilding, will the veteran Coach Gian Piero Gasperini continue to be able to work miracles in Liguria?
13 new players arrived at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris last summer, a figure already surpassed this season, but any potential instability is more likely to be caused by those heading for the exit door. There can be no doubt that losing their most creative player, Andrea Bertolacci, and top scorers Iago Falque and Alessandro Matri has significantly weakened the options at Gasperini’s disposal - and the pressure on new signings Goran Pandev and Darko Lazovic to fill their boots will be immediate.
January signing Leonardo Pavoletti has turned his loan move permanent and will be hoping to continue where he left off having netted six times in his first 10 games. The real hope will rest on Argentinian Diego Perotti, however. The 27-year-old wide man has been linked with numerous clubs, yet owner Enrico Preziosi has thus far not been tempted to cash in on a man who contributed four goals and five assists in his debut season after signing from Sevilla.
Early signs suggest the upheaval hasn’t had much effect on the Grifone, with impressive pre-season victories over Empoli, Wacker Innsbruck and Hertha Berlin registered and a clutch of goals for Pandev, too.
However, when the real action begins, Genoa face three of last season’s top four within six games with trips to Fiorentina and Lazio sandwiching a visit from the champions Juventus. With the rest of Serie A no longer surprised by the Rossoblu’s adventurous 3-4-3 formation, the traditional European contenders all strengthening and the Milanese giants spending heavily, Genoa will do very well to replicate last season’s heroics. The Grifone faithful will be hoping continuity in the dugout outweighs continuity on the pitch.
The veteran Coach is now entering the third season of his second spell at the Luigi Ferraris and faces arguably the biggest test of his career so far; finding continuity amidst a much-changed squad and set of rivals, the 57-year-old will need all of his experience and tactical nous if he is to repeat last season’s European qualification.
That’s if they keep hold of him beyond the transfer deadline, of course. Keeping the 27-year-old Argentine will cushion the blow of losing the creative powers of Andrea Bertolacci and Iago Falque. Gasperini will doubtless be looking to Perotti to improve on last term’s four goals and five assists, in the process becoming Rossoblu’s main creative fulcrum, and to feed Goran Pandev.
After an ill-fated spell in Turkey with Galatasaray, the Macedonian has returned to his “second home”. Neither of last season’s top scorers (Iago Falque and Alessandro Matri) remain with the Rossoblu, meaning it’s vital Pandev can click with fellow forward Leonardo Pavoletti quickly.
Young goalkeeper Mattia Perin is the heir apparent to national icon Gianluigi Buffon and is already closing in on a century of Grifone league appearances. Last season’s tally of just five clean sheets in 32 appearances will have disappointed, but the 22-year-old has a big season in store.
Perin; De Maio, Burdisso, Edenilson; Antonini, Kucka, Rincon, LAZOVIC; PANDEV, Pavoletti, Perotti
Gasperini’s men have lost an incredible amount of attacking talent and, although they have still retained much of last year’s impressive squad, a repeat performance should not be expected.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.