Cagliari are aiming for Serie A stability as they enter a new era, writes Marcello Cossali-Francis
After a successful first season back in the Italian top-flight, Cagliari will be looking to build on their 11th-placed finish.
In a year when the Sardinians saw the end of the famous old Stadio Sant’Elia, the future set by those in charge of the club is very clear. Ambitions to consolidate themselves as a Serie A side again after relegation in 2015 will be the main aim, but dreams of European football will be kept in the background for now.
This year has the feeling of a new beginning. Cagliari are in the process of having a new stadium built after the Stadio Sant’Elia was partially demolished, having been the home of Cagliari Calcio since 1970. Whilst the new stadium will not be ready until 2019, they will move in to a temporary new home in the process.
Everyone involved at the club will be hoping that a new stadium will help to lure more fans to watch games and boost the club’s financial situation. With the club finishing mid-table last season, Rastelli and President Tommaso Giulini will have ambitions of pushing Cagliari up the table rather than looking over their shoulders at the teams beneath them.
Massimo Rastelli’s men over-achieved last year and were one of the surprise packages, probably over-shadowed by Atalanta’s incredible fourth place. For a promoted side, which they were for last season, surviving the drop would have been the aim before the league began. However, a mid-table finish with some impressive victories on the way exceeded expectations and showed that Cagliari, led by the experienced Marco Borriello, could hold their own in Serie A.
There were many ins and outs over the summer, but the most important piece of business by Rastelli was maintaining the services of top scorer Marco Borriello, after he agreed to a one-year extension with the possibility of a further year after the 2017-18 season. The 35-year-old scored 20 goals across all competitions in 16-17 and he will be hoping for the same this year.
In terms of departures, Cagliari have been dealt quite a few blows. The defensive trio of Nicola Murru, Bruno Alves and Mauricio Isla have moved on to Sampdoria, Rangers and Fenerbache respectively. Other losses include midfielder Davide Di Gennaro to Lazio and youngster Dario Del Fabro to Juventus.
Despite the losses, they have made some decent signings in the summer. Senna Miangue’s transfer was made permanent after his loan spell and Marco Andreolli also joins from Inter, whilst Rastelli has also added central midfielders Luca Cigarini from Sampdoria and Paulo Faragò, who impressed on loan from Novara.
But the biggest signing is of Juventus’ young centre-back, Filippo Romagna, for just over €7m. He looks to be Alves’ direct replacement and Rastelli will be hoping he, alongside Andreolli, can form a reliable back-line, something they struggled with so much last year. He will want to get it right as quickly as he can, as a slow start in this league can be costly.
As much as fans would like to believe they can push higher up the table, stability and consistency are the keys this season. Realistically, Cagliari should be aiming for a mid-table finish. After the loss of some key members this summer, the Rossoblu could find it difficult, especially in defence, which could mean they are pulled down towards the bottom of the table. However, in Borriello and Marco Sau, they have too much to go down.
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