Our expert takes a look at the top 10 players to watch in Serie A this season.
Lucas Boye (Torino)
With Andrea Belotti continuing to be linked with a big-money move away from Torino, Boye could be thrust onto centre stage by the end of August. The Argentinian forward, who crossed the Atlantic last year after spells with River Plate and Newell’s Old Boys in his homeland, regularly played on the left flank in 2016/17, but he’ll no doubt be eyeing the centre-forward spot if Belotti does indeed depart.
Tricky and skilful, Boye thrives in one-on-one situations and loves to run at defenders. His array of attributes probably makes him best suited to a role out wide, but it would be intriguing to see the 21-year-old utilised as a false nine.
Daniele Rugani (Juventus)
One of Europe’s most surprising transfers this summer involved Juventus, who allowed centre-back Leonardo Bonucci to join Milan for €42m. It was a sale which frustrated many Bianconeri supporters, but Rugani will be desperate to help them get over the loss of their former stalwart as quickly as possible.
The 22-year-old defender has been waiting patiently for an opportunity in Turin, spending two seasons on loan at Empoli and two more as a back-up to the likes of Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli. An intelligent and strong centre-half who is also comfortable with the ball at his feet, the time has come for Rugani to make his mark at the J-Stadium.
Gianluca Gaudino (Chievo)
It’s not every day that Chievo sign Bayern Munich prodigies, so there was a fair bit of excitement around the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi when this deal was completed in June.
Don’t be fooled by the Italian-sounding name: Gaudino was born and bred in Germany and has represented die Mannschaft at both Under-19 and Under-20 level in the past. An excellent passer of the ball, the 20-year-old could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer after moving for a nominal fee of €50,000.
Nikola Maksimovic (Napoli)
Napoli may have finished third in Serie A and failed to make it beyond the round of 16 in the Champions League last campaign, but few sides in Europe could match Maurizio Sarri’s quality of play when they were at their best. An average of almost 2.5 goals scored per top-tier game in 2016/17 was testament to the Partenopei’s attacking brilliance.
Had Napoli managed to keep things a little tighter at the back, they may have pipped Juventus and Roma in the race for the Scudetto. The arrival of Maksimovic, a strong, 6ft 4in centre-half who is assured in possession, will certainly help in that regard this time around.
Alessio Cerci (Hellas Verona)
It’s hard to think of a more suitable word than ‘nightmare’ to describe Cerci’s time on the books of Atletico Madrid. After dazzling for Torino in 2013/14 – he scored 13 goals and provided 10 assists in Serie A that year – the forward headed west to the Spanish capital, where he started a grand total of zero league matches in three years.
Milan opted against signing him permanently after two loan stints at San Siro, which prompted Verona to step in. Having turned 30 last month, the tricky wide man will be keen to make up for lost time back on the peninsula.
Nicolo Barella (Cagliari)
Barella made 28 appearances for Cagliari in Serie A last time out, but he’s now ready to take the next step and become an even more important figure for the Sardinian outfit. Deployed most often as a central midfielder – he’s also been used as a holding player and in a No.10 role – the Rossoblu academy product is technically gifted with the ball and a dynamic runner without it.
The 20-year-old still has work to do, though, particularly in the final third: last season’s return of no league goals and one assist must be improved upon if Barella is to progress.
Ricardo Rodriguez (Milan)
Rodriguez is one of many new signings made by Milan this summer, with the Rossoneri eyeing a return to Europe’s top table after several seasons of stagnation. The acquisition of Bonucci from Juventus was by far the most eye-catching, but it will be equally interesting to see how Rodriguez gets on at San Siro.
A buccaneering left-back who loves to get forward, the Switzerland international was in need of a fresh start after treading water at Wolfsburg. Still only 24, he’ll hope to follow in the footsteps of former Milan full-backs Paolo Maldini, Cafu and Alessandro Costacurta.
Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo)
Berardi has been linked with Inter, Napoli and Roma in the current window, but at the time of writing he remains at Sassuolo. It’s surely only a matter of time before the Italy international seeks pastures new; he’s already completed five campaigns at the Mapei Stadium and will want to be playing in continental competition having had his first sample of the Europa League last term.
Still, Berardi is a grounded young man and will be aware of the benefits that another season at Sassuolo would bring, including the guarantee of game time. A left-footed forward who operates from the right, the 23-year-old scored five goals and set up nine more in Serie A last year.
Hector Moreno (Roma)
It’s been a case of one in, one out for Roma as far as centre-backs are concerned; replacing Antonio Rudiger, who joined Premier League champions Chelsea in July, is 85-time Mexico international Moreno.
The 29-year-old is a thoroughly modern defender who can start moves as well as stop them. Although able to play at left-hand side of a four-man backline, he’s much more at home in the heart of the defence.
Andrea Bertolacci (Genoa)
One of the victims of Milan’s aforementioned spending spree is Bertolacci, who has been loaned to Genoa for the upcoming campaign. The Rossoneri’s loss will be the Grifone’s gain, with the 26-year-old back at the club he represented on 90 occasions between 2012 and 2015.
A hard-working and creative midfielder, Bertolacci laid on eight goals for his Genoa team-mates in his final season at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. A repeat of that would be welcomed by manager Ivan Juric this term.