There is a view of optimism coming into the 2014/15 season for Genoa, at least in this writer’s eyes. Of course, Genoa have sold and bought players in the summer mercato like only the Grifone can do. However, the players Genoa have signed this summer are either of a higher quality to those signed in the past three season or fit the concepts of the team that Gian Piero Gasperini is building in Liguria.
In Gasperini’s first stint with Genoa, the tactician accomplished more than most could have expected. When the Italian coach was sacked in November 2010, Genoa had signed some exciting and overpriced players the summer previous thanks to the team’s results under him.
Luca Toni is one player of note that Genoa had signed, but when the club’s performances proved to be sub-par, Gasperini was dismissed along with several of the players over the next two transfer windows. Since then, Genoa have lived modestly in player talent, and for two of those season since Gasperini’s exit, fought relegation until he returned to mastermind a comfortable term a year ago.
Now, it seems Enrico Preziosi is ready to allow Gasperini some leeway in player signings as the team take at shot at qualifying for the Europa League; something not unrealistic.
Genoa have been smart thus far and fixed several of the holes that plagued the club last term. Gone is Alberto Gilardino, Genoa’s leading scorer (15 goals) in 2013/14. Gasperini was never convinced of Gilardino’s heart and desire, and Gilardino spoke of the coach’s lack of confidence in him upon his departure for the Chinese Super League. Gilardino was the only goalscorer Genoa had a year ago, a matter that was addressed by Gasperini and Preziosi this summer.
Genoa have focused heavily on signing attacking talent to augment the best parts of the offense (Giannis Fetfatzidis, Juraj Kucka, Andrea Bertolacci). Criticised at AC Milan last season, Genoa have added Alessandro Matri on a loan deal to replace Gilardino. A positive move in all regards. More impressively, Genoa added Mauricio Pinilla from Cagliari as a second striker. The Grifone played all of 2013/14 without a proven second striker and Pinilla is an upgrade from Emanuele Calaio.
In addition, Genoa have added midfielders Diego Perotti and Iago Falque from Sevilla and Tottenham, repectively. The two can add tremendous quality to the side after failing to show consistency at their previous clubs. Gasperini won’t stand for any training or playing lulls, so both players will need to show more than just flashes of brilliance to feature in this team.
Defensively Genoa have been looking for another Central defender to play in Gasperini’s three man backline, however, no deals have been team-friendly as of yet. A deal could wait until January when loan options will be more plentiful.
Mattia Perin was fantastic a season ago and is truly on the road to becoming the man that takes over for Gianluigi Buffon for the Italy national team. Perin had the opportunity to leave this summer and go to Milan, who were in desperate need of a new goalkeeper, but the youngster opted to stay another season.
If Perin has the same kind of season this as he did last, he will be playing his football somewhere else in 2015/16. Thus far, teams outside of Italy have shown little to no interest in the Genoa No. 1, but will do in time. Genoa won’t be able to keep him a secret much longer, especially if this is the year Genoa contend for a Europa League spot; which could happen.
Gasperini revitalised Genoa when he returned last seasons. The club had floundered for the most part without him. In between his two stints as coach, Genoa hired coaches either past their coaching prime or to green and naive to know any better. At times last season his starting XI selections left a few questions marks. He has now had a full summer mercato to add to the squad and this Genoa team is more in his eye than that of last’s.
Of course more players could leave or be added between now and August 31, but Genoa look attack heavy coming into the season. Since Gasperini’s sacking in 2010 and this summer, Genoa have had difficulty scoring and creating goals. With the potential of the new firepower that has been added, Genoa should be more potent in attack. At least on paper.
Perin will be solid in goal once again and the defence in front of him is the same defence that finished last season minus one. That one defender that was sold by Genoa, apparently not in Gasperini’s plans, was Sime Vrsaljko. Who now plays his football at Sassuolo. Despite selling one of their better players last season, Genoa have done very well in the mercato, especially compared to the teams around them.
Expectations should be high at Genoa, which, like in 2010, could cost Gasperini his job if the club get off to a slow start. Genoa will finish in the top ten and should push their colleagues for the final Europa League place. That place will depend as much on the teams around them as it depends on Il Vecchio Balordo.
Where will they finish? Should everything work out well a solid ninth place is well within reach
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @CalcioFarmer