Stars flock to Serie A as scudetto challenge rediscovers its sex appeal
As the start of the new Serie A season approaches,there is a sense of optimism in the air. Not since the early 2000′s has there been such an eventful transfer window heading into a new season.
The likes of Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente, Gonzalo Higuain, and Mario Gomez will all be integral pieces to their new respective teams. Acquisitions like these are slowly bringing Serie A back into the limelight, and, eventually, with more smart spending like this, the league could very well be number one again.
Heading into last season, Juventus were the clear favourites to win the Scudetto. They managed to do so rather easily, claiming their 29th title with a nine point advantage over second place Napoli. With Tevez and Llorente being brought in to feature up front for Juve, they’ll finally address a key issue for them over the last couple of years; scoring goals. Add the signing of Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna for cover at the back, and one would tip the Bianconeri to top the league yet again.
However, that won’t be the case this time around. Last year’s runners-up Napoli have had a far busier mercato. Owner and president Aurelio De Laurentiis already provided new coach Rafa Benitez with a reported €60 million. Once Edinson Cavani was sold, €63 million more was added, enabling the Partenopei to pursue anyone on their shortlist. In came Higuain, Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, and Pepe Reina just to name a few.
As a result of these signings by De Laurentiis and company, Napoli, on paper, are serious threats to Juventus for the Scudetto. Defending is one issue they’ll probably need to address if they want to be as complete of a squad as Juve, but they’ll certainly pack a punch going forward.
Gomez, Josip Ilicic, and Joaquin should surely fuel Fiorentina’s aspirations this season. Then there’s Roma’s and Inter’s rebuild, Lazio and Udinese completing deals under the radar, and AC Milan preparing to build on last campaign’s turnaround. The league as a whole will be a bloodbath in terms of who will win it all, and who will qualify for the Champions League in 2014/15. That means more entertaining games for neutrals, and with the majority of the big clubs facing off in the first few weeks, everyone will catch a glimpse of what could be the most intriguing league to watch this year.
As for the players themselves, they bring some impressive pedigree to Italy. Look no further than Gomez’s to judge the resumes of these new signings. The German international has participated in three Champions League finals, winning once this past May. He was also a member of Bayern Munich and Stuttgart when they won the Bundesliga. His 138 league goals in 236 matches for both clubs should help in providing more of an attacking threat for the Viola, something they lacked at times in 2012/13.
Tevez has won five league titles in Argentina, Brazil, and England combined, plus a Copa Libertadores and Champions League trophy to go with them. Llorente is a World Cup and European Champion with the Spanish national team, and Higuain has claimed six different trophies with Real Madrid.
Accomplishments like these can only better the reputation of Serie A. There may not be a whole lot of attention paid towards the defence of some of the bigger sides, but for a league that battles with defensive stereotypes every day, these attack minded signings are a blessing. Calcio fans can look forward to a future with plenty of optimism on the pitch.