There's a sense of deja vu at Sampdoria, even with a new Coach on the bench. Vijay Rahaman explains more.
Coach: Eusebio di Francesco
Last season: Ninth, 53 points
Player of the Year 2018-19: Fabio Quagliarella
Look out for: Jeison Murillo
Prediction: Europa League challenge
Parisian Jean-Baptiste Alphonso Karr coined the phrase ‘the more things change, the more there stay the same’ in 1848, and here we are 171 years later, and he struck on the right way to describe Sampdoria. A new Coach, players being sold and the ownership situation in limbo - it’s a familiar way to start the season in this part of Genoa.
The owner of the 1991 Scudetto winners, the ever-entertaining Massimo Ferrero, has been rumoured to have sold the club to a consortium involving former striker Gianluca Vialli - something vehemently denied by the Roman.
On the pitch, as seems to happen all too often at the Marassi, they have sold top players yet again. Joachim Anderson and Dennis Praet were sold to Lyon and Leicester City respectively, for €24m and €21m, both bargain buys in the current crazy market. Of greater concern is that they spent only a year at Samp, leaving supporters to question their club’s ambition.
In the dugout, Marco Giampaolo has left for Milan and former Sassuolo and Roma Coach Eusebio di Francesco has taken over the reins. Di Francesco is looking to rebuild his reputation after leaving the Giallorossi earlier this year. Presumably he knows what he’s getting into by working for Ferrero, and the financial situation at the club. But the Pescara-born trainer has the ambition that goes with having led Roma to the last four of the Champions League. Has di Francesco accepted that for the short term, Samp is his best option, or does he believe he can take the club back into Europe?
But it’s not all doom and gloom - some astute signings have been added over the summer. Emil Audero’s permanent move, for some €20m, from Juventus was confirmed and further defensive reinforcements to a porous back-line came through. Colombia international Jeison Murillo is back in Serie A after an unsuccessful stint at Inter, while Fabio Depaoli, Julien Chabot and Alex Ferrari should give di Francesco options to work with to bolster the defence he inherited.
Along with Murillo, the most intriguing acquisitions are in midfielder. Czech anchor Jakub Jankto signed permanently from Udinese after impressing on loan and further forward, 20-year-old attacking midfielder Gonzalo Maroni has joined on loan from Boca Juniors. The Argentine has caught the eye in his fledging career, and Samp will be hoping di Francesco can nurture his talent.
They have also been heavily linked with a move for Guinea international Francois Kamano, after having recently reportedly agreed personal terms with the 23-year old, who is currently on the books at Bordeaux. However, yet again, the burden of goals could still very well still fall on the evergreen shoulders of Fabio Quagliarella. The 37-year old struck 26 times last year to scoop the Capocannoniere, which earned him a recall to the Azzurri, where he scored in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The Coach: Eusebio di Francesco
Di Francesco could prove an inspired choice for Samp, as he will be looking to prove his doubters wrong. His preferred 4-3-3 formation requires the full use of the pitch, with the wing-backs pushing up. A good start to the campaign, and there is no telling how far he can take the club.
Key summer signing: Jeison Murillo
Having lost Andersen, Samp plumped for Murillo as the Dane's replacement. The 27-year old arrives on loan from Valencia having bounced around a few clubs and will be looking to rebuild his reputation at the Marassi.
Key summer sale: Dennis Praet
The sale of the Belgian midfielder will be a dent in the club's hopes of taking that next step back into Europe. Praet displayed tactical awareness and a calming influence on the park that he will be hard to replace, and others will have to take up the mantel.
Predicted XI [4-3-3]: Audero; Bereszynski, Murillo, Colley, Sala; Jankto, Linetty, Ramirez; Quagliarella, Leris, Gabbiadini