Giuseppe Ventura knows how to manage Il Toro after four years in the hotseat, but he’ll have to manage expectations after an impressive end to last season. Christian FitzHugh investigates how Torino plot a third consecutive top 10 finish.
As last summer, a season of success has led to Torino battling to keep their star performers. A feeling of cautious optimism, following last season’s Europa League and Derby della Mole achievements, was always liable to be derailed by external interest.
The marauding Matteo Darmian has gone for a hefty fee to the bright lights of Manchester United, with well-wishes from his chairman and club captain. Two further members of a tightly bound defensive unit look set to follow him. Napoli have been relentless in their pursuit of the recently-arrived and increasingly impressive Nicola Maksimovic, whilst Roma and Porto compete for the affections of the bright and nimble wing-back Bruno Peres.
Not new to late transfer window scramblings, Torino will have to act fast to recruit ready replacements. Thus far young talents and potential looking to step up from the lower reaches of Serie A, Davide Zappacosta, Mauro Baselli and Danilo Avelar have arrived from Atalanta and Cagliari respectively to establish themselves as part of the fulcrum of the Il Toro starting XI.
The powerful Joel Obi arrives from Inter and the nomadic Afriyie Acquah joins after two loan spells in Serie A to bolster a now very competitive midfield. It is hoped that more creativity will be on offer here, as this was in short supply last term.
More heartening news for Granata fans, last year’s player of the season and the league’s highest scoring defender, Kamil Glik, despite outside interest, has reaffirmed his commitment to the club’s cause. The Coach too is expected to sign a new contract.
Whilst defensive replacements will be necessary if the above transfers go through as expected, the priority for much of this summer has been to complement a forward line dependent on the exploits of Fabio Quagliarella, and to a lesser extent Maxi Lopez.
The lively Abel Hernandez appears the prime candidate for such a role after a disappointing season in the Premier League, but budgetary constraints remain a factor in Torino’s transfer dealings.
Pre-season has gone along smoothly against lower league opposition in the main, with the tried and trusted 3-5-2 formation still employed. Acquah, Zappacosta and Baselli have featured heavily, the latter two, in particular, fitting in seamlessly.
Though Torino will hope to pick up where they left off last season and improve upon last season, they will be aware of last year’s early season travails. They shall be stronger for the experience, so don’t be surprised if performances improve as the season progresses. A still-competitive squad can and will be pleased to make the top 10 come season’s close.
At 67 Ventura is a wily sage of Serie A, he is now also the second longest serving coach in the league. Starting his fifth season in charge of a club for the first time this is new territory for the experienced tactician from Genoa. He will have to use all his knowhow to eke out a higher finish from a side built to his specifications.
Club captain, last year’s player of the season and second highest goalscorer from centre-half, Glik is Ventura’s first lieutenant on the pitch. He provides inspiration for his teammates and inspires passion in the Torino faithful. Courageous and dedicated, with other members of the backline departing, his presence is key.
At 23 Baselli has his best years ahead of him, already a regular at Atalanta and selected by the Azzurri, as a gifted box-to box midfielder, he will offer a clinical forward-line much needed industrious support.
Benassi made his mark at this summer’s European Under 21 Championship scoring a brace against England in the process. With bite in the tackle, and goalscoring potential he’s already attracted interest from Premier League newcomers Bournemouth and the varied nature of his game make him very much an exciting prospect for the future.
Padelli; Maksimovic, Glik, Moretti; Peres, BASELLI , Vives, Gazzi, ZAPPACOSTA; Lopez, Quagliarella
With much change taking place at the sides that finished above Torino last season, there is an opportunity to look up for the Granata, but if three of last season’s back-five have to be replaced then an autumn of recalibration may stunt European aspirations.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.