So here we are again – the new Serie A season is just over three weeks away & much has changed since Inter were crowned champs way back in May. That fifth consecutive triumph may well prove to be the high-water mark for the Nerazzurri who’s summer moves give hope to the rest of the league that the gap has closed.
Jose Mourinho has gone, lured away by the Spanish giants Real Madrid who hope the Special One may be the man to finally win the tenth European Cup they have chased for so long. In any other league that would be the most controversial decison of the summer, but in Italy its just the beginning.
Balotelli: Already got the flag…
The one thing responsible for more fights, column inches & controversy than the Portuguese coach is not Mario Balotelli but the moviola, the super-slow motion replays used to scrutinise every minor incident in Serie A. It has been discarded by state broadcaster RAI in a serious break from tradition.
But more than ever it is the new arrivals that whet the appetite ahead of a new season – & this summer has already seen some major transfers take place. Juventus set the early pace, with their new management team throwing down the gauntlet to the other Scudetto challengers.
By early July the Turin side had added Italian Internationals Leonardo Bonucci & Simone Pepe to the squad, as well as Jorge Martinez, Davide Lanzafame, Marco Motta & Marco Storari as cover for the injured Gigi Buffon.
The Old Lady’s new men: Motta, Pepe, Bonucci
The Bianconeri‘s efforts have since stalled however, as the big contracts given to mediocre players by the previous regime has made selling those players on very tough indeed. Tiago, Camoranesi, Zebina, Grygera, Poulsen and a number of others are all expected to go, but the club is struggling to find buyers for them.
Holders Inter replaced Mourinho with one-time Juventus target Rafael Benitez, but that move maybe the first of many as Maicon & Balotelli both look set to leave too. With the Spaniard at the helm the list of replacements has been less than inspiring – Giuseppe Sculli & Dirk Kuyt have been linked.
The imminent arrival of Javier Mascherano brings a top quality player, but to an area of the team already covered by Thiago Motta, Sulley Muntari & the excellent Cambiasso.
“Hey Javier, I hear Milan is great this time of year…”
Cross-town rivals Milan finally appointed Massimo Allegri after a lengthy delay but new players have proved even harder to come by as Silvio Berlusconi remains reluctant to invest in a team in much need of an injection of youth.
The surprise of the summer so far has been Genoa, who have added Eduardo, Ranocchia, Rafinha, Veloso, Zuculind and Luca Toni to a largely unchanged squad which finished ninth last season.
Other teams have been quiet so far, perhaps waiting for one big move to spark the market into life. Balotelli to Manchester City maybe the one, the domino that sees Mascherano join Inter, Poulsen head to Liverpool & so on.
Al Volo will be looking closer at each club’s moves over the coming weeks, & there will be enough talking points to make us all forget Mourinho, Mario & Moviola…