Monday, August 15, 2022

Serie A Power Rankings: Juventus’ expectations heightened with Pogba and Di Maria; AC Milan still at the top

We are a month out from finally having Serie A soccer back in action. Some things have changed drastically in the offseason, which will leave an impact on the 2022-23 campaign. Also, many clubs are still working on their transfer strategies to fill out their rosters before the end of the summer transfer window on Sept. 1. Coaches are impatient to know what their teams will look like, and fans as well. Let’s go around the Italy to examine where all 20 Serie A teams are as things stand one month before the official kickoff to the new season. 

As always, you can catch every Serie A match on Paramount+ this season. You can quickly and easily sign up for your very own account right now with a free one-month trial (until July 19) by using GLORY as your offer code. Just click on the “try it free” button and use the promo code for instant access to the best soccer leagues across all your devices.

Top tier

The teams that are in the race to win the Scudetto this season. 

1. AC Milan 

Stefano Pioli’s Rossoneri won the Scudetto last season and should be considered the frontrunners. New ownership arrived in late May, with the American private investment firm RedBird Capital signing a preliminary agreement to purchase the 19-time Serie A champions. Gerry Cardinale, the firm’s founder, took charge and is putting his imprint on multiple aspects around the club as the ownership transition is expected to reach its completion by September. Paolo Maldini and sporting director Frederic Massara both stayed at the club and are now working to improve the current squad after the arrival of free agent Divock Origi. AC Milan lost midfielder Franck Kessie to FC Barcelona after failing to come to terms on a contract renewal. Pioli needs a replacement as soon as possible in that part of the field. 

2. Inter Milan 

Inter Milan failed to win a back-to-back Scudetto last season under coach Simone Inzaghi, who came away with the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana over Juventus as a consolation. It’s been a pretty busy summer as Romelu Lukaku is back on loan one year after joining Chelsea. Ivan Perisic, one of the best players of the past season, joined Tottenham as free agent and Inter Milan signed goalkeeper Andre Onana as free agent, winger Raoul Bellanova (€3 million for the loan with a €7 million option to buy included) and Kristjan Asllani from Empoli (€4 million for the loan with a €10 million obligation to buy). Additionally, Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined the Nerazzurri from AS Roma as free agent, while Arturo Vidal, Matias Vecino, Andrea Ranocchia and Stefano Sensi all left the club. Inter now need to focus on outgoings with Milan Skriniar and Alexis Sanchez as the two players most likely to be out the door. Despite all these changes, Inter Milan are still one of the strongest sides and will definitely be in the race to win the Scudetto. 

3. Juventus 

The expectations are heightened for a savvy Juventus side that dipped into free agency to acquire Angel Di Maria and reunite with Paul Pogba, who’s back with the club six years after joining Manchester United. Massimiliano Allegri will count on Dusan Vlahovic and especially Federico Chiesa, who should return from injury in two months. It’s unlikely that Matthijs de Ligt will be part of the team this season, considering his desire to leave the club and the strong interest of Bayern Munich. Juventus is also picking up the pieces after the departures of club legend Giorgio Chiellini, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, who is still looking for his next club. 

Outside looking in

Clubs that are fighting to play in Europe next season. 

4. Napoli

It will be an interesting season for a Napoli that won’t count on Lorenzo Insigne. The former captain left his childhood club to chase a new challenge with Toronto FC in North America. Additionally, Luciano Spalletti’s side is on the verge of losing another key cog of the squad in the past decade in Kalidou Koulibaly, who is set to join Chelsea for approximately €40 million. It’ll be interesting to figure out how much Napoli plan to invest from these sales as it will tell us much more about their ambitions. As it stands, they don’t appear to be a likely Scudetto contender, considering the importance of the players who left the club — Koulibaly in particular. 

5. AS Roma 

Jose Mourinho hoped to be backed a little more in the transfer market after winning the UEFA Conference League last May. Until now, the Giallorossi signed Nemanja Matic as a free agent and winger Zeki Celik from Lille. It is likely that something big may happen in the upcoming weeks before the beginning of the season, especially if Nicolò Zaniolo leaves the club (Juventus are in talks to sign him). The fans are dreaming of acquiring Paulo Dybala, but talks haven’t started yet between the two sides. There’s also interest among Inter Milan and Napoli. As of now, AS Roma’s ambitions have not changed much from last season, so it’s reasonable to see them competing for Europa League spots. 

6. Lazio 

It’s been a busy summer for Lazio sporting director Igli Tare, who needed to sign a new goalkeeper in Luis Maximiano and three center backs in Mario Gila from Real Madrid, Nicolò Casale from Hellas Verona and Alessio Romagnoli as a free agent. Maurizio Sarri may no longer have his hands full as Lazio lacked continuity especially in the early stages of last season. Until now, Lazio have managed to keep all their key players as their ambitions slowly grow ahead of the new season. 

7. Fiorentina

Vincenzo Italiano‘s side signed Luka Jovic from Real Madrid, which sent an important message to all the Serie A clubs. Fiorentina embarked on a new cycle last season after selling Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus and their project and aspirations have only increased with their summer moves. The club chose to extend Italiano’s contract with hopes of improving from last season’s seventh place finish, which ended with UEFA Conference League qualification. 

8. Atalanta

Speaking of new cycles, we’re definitely looking at a new dawn for the first time in Gian Piero Gasperini’s tenure as Atalanta coach after the club failed to qualify to any European competitions. Some players are expected to leave the club in the coming weeks, but so far no big changes have been made to the roster apart from the summer acquisition of Brazilian midfielder Ederson from Salernitana for approximately €15 million. Atalanta need something more in the transfer business if they want to be back in Europe next season. 

Middle of the pack

These teams are definitely going to stay in the league but have no chance to play in European competitions next season. 

9. Sassuolo 

Alessio Dionisi enters his second season in charge with higher expectations given how well he got hi team to play in the second half of last season. It seems unlikely that striker Gianluca Scamacca will be on the roster, with several European clubs — notably West Ham and Paris Saint Germain — in talks to sign the Italian player. The Neroverdi signed 21-year-old Uruguayan forward Alvarez Martinez, who is definitely a name to watch for the future.

10. Torino 

Ivan Juric, who is known to pressure his front office when it comes to transfer business, might be losing one of his most important players this offseason. Torino defender Gelson Bremer could be headed to Inter Milan while club captain Andrea Belotti is already out the door as a free agent. Sporting director Davide Vagnati has his hands full in the next few weeks to provide to his coach a competitive squad.

11. Udinese

Andrea Sottil was appointed as Udinese manager after Gabriele Cioffi joined Hellas Verona. A new era has started but most of the roster is still the same from last season, even if players such  Gerard Deulofeu and Nahuel Molina have attracted the interests of multiple clubs. 

12. Hellas Verona

Similarly to Udinese, with Cioffi is new to the club and is still waiting for some summer signings. He’s also prepared to understand what will happen to striker Giovanni Simeone, who put together an incredible 2021-22 campaign with 17 goals and six assists, and is now on the lists of many clubs in and out of Italy. 

13. Bologna

Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side needs something different after a disappointing season that started with a bit of European ambition, but ended in a 13th-place finish. Giovanni Sartori is now in charge of the transfer business as he was introduced as the club’s new technical director by way of Atalanta. Mihajlovic hopes that Sartori can replicate what he has done at Atalanta and bring some fresh talent to his roster. 

14. Monza

This is by far the most interesting team in Serie A. After selling AC Milan in 2017, Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani only waited one year before launching a new project. Despite the fact that the club was playing in the third division, the Monza project was forward-looking from the very beginning. They invested money on players but also on infrastructures — training center and the stadium — on their way to bringing Monza to the first division for the first time in club history. With a clear goal to build a team that can finish in the top 10, they’ve signed Matteo Pessina from Atalanta, Alessio Cragno from Cagliari, Stefano Sensi on loan from Inter Milan and Andrea Ranocchia as a free agent. Clearly, we all expect more additions made before the window closes as Galliani is used to making some unexpected and incredible moves. 

Bottom dwellers 

These sides are struggling and are fighting to keep their spot in Serie A for next season. 

15. Empoli

Empoli might run the risk of a drop-off campaign if they dig themselves a hole like they did at the start of last season. Aurelio Andreazzoli was sacked by the club and former Venezia coach Paolo Zanetti became the new manager. 

Andrea Pinamonti, who scored 13 goals last season, left the club after the end of his loan spell, while Inter Milan signed midfielder Kristjan Asllani, another key player from last season. Mattia Destro may have arrived as Pinamonti’s replacement at striker, but Empoli still have work to do in the coming weeks to fill other vacancies.

16. Spezia

Thiago Motta left the club and former Udinese head coach Luca Gotti was appointed as Spezia’s new manager. They need something more on the pitch to avoid relegation, but the experience they had in the past two seasons will be a factor, which is why I have them ahead of other clubs. 

17. Salernitana

They cannot afford to replicate another miraculous late-season charge to avoid relegation this season. Davide Nicola stayed with the club, but he’s now working under a new director with Walter Sabatini out and Morgan De Sanctis in by way of AS Roma. De Sanctis took charge of the transfer market and has already made some interesting moves to acquire striker Erik Botheim from Krasnodar and defender Mattia Lovato from Atalanta. They will definitely need something more, but the roster looks promising in their quest to stay in the first division another season. 

18. Sampdoria

The club is working hard despite pretty difficult circumstances as it is still looking to sell the club. That’s why there is not much money on the table for the summer with the ownership only working on loans and swap deals. They can’t seem to really afford a real budget for the summer transfer window. 

19. Lecce

Great news: It’s great to see one of the historic clubs back in the Serie A. Not-so-great news: At the moment, the caliber of this roster won’t be enough to stay in the league and avoid relegation. Coach Marco Baroni needs more talent in the midfield and a new striker, despite the arrival of Lorenzo Colombo from AC Milan. 

20. Cremonese

Their success in the Italian second division berthed a new opportunity in the top flight. But as things stand based on summer activity, not enough has been done to guarantee a place in Serie A after this season. The roster definitely needs more experience and players that have already played in the first division to survive and avoid relegation. 

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