Vito Doria Date: 25th August 2014 at 9:16am
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Sampdoria started the last Serie A season slowly and looked like a contender to be relegated but a change in coach prompted a change in fortune and mid-table safety was secured.

The Doriani finished the 2013-14 season in 12th place with 45 points, which was an improvement on the previous season having finished two positions higher in the table.

While the world’s attention was drawn to the up-and-coming World Cup in June, Samp president Edoardo Garrone dropped a bombshell and announced that he had sold the Genoa-based club to Roman film producer Massimo Ferrero.

The 63-year-old purchased the club from Garrone for only €15 million and the club has experienced a bit of a revolution since Ferrero has taken over.

Directors from the Garrone era have resigned and former AC Milan sporting director Ariedo Braida was expected to commence full-time work on July 1 but he had to leave because Ferrero wanted him to handle the sales of players only.

Ferrero has bought shrewdly so far in the transfer window and a few more additions are expected to arrive soon. His so-called surprise signing has not arrived though and Samp had been linked with David Pizarro, Alexandre Pato and Samuel Eto’o after making the claim.

He also has changed the name of the club’s pre-season trophy from the Trofeo Riccardo Garrone to the Trofeo Boskov in homage to Doria’s scudetto-winning coach Vujadin Boskov.

The Serbian tactician passed away in April weeks before his 83rd birthday and the Doriani won the Trofeo Boskov 4-2 against German club Eintracht Frankfurt on August 2. Ferrero had also replaced the ball-boys with ball-ladies for the match, stating that it was to promote equality.

Transfers

Sampdoria’s biggest signing so far has been Argentine striker Gonzalo Bergessio from Catania. The 30-year-old centre-forward will be an experienced performer in one of the youngest teams in Serie A.

Goalkeeper Sergio Romero is expected to leave the club so Emiliano Viviano has been brought in. Viviano was the back-up to Wojciech Szczesny last season at Arsenal but he was signed on loan from Palermo with the option to buy.

The Doriani have recruited Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Duncan on loan from Inter and they currently co-own winger Francesco Fedato with Catania but he will play for the Genoa-based club this season.

Sampdoria has also secured the full ownership of right-backs Lorenzo De Silvestri from Fiorentina and Fabrizio Cacciatore from Hellas Verona.

The Blucerchiati have usually sold key players season after season and this summer’s key departure is German defender Shkodran Mustafi. The World Cup-winner was sold to Spanish club Valencia for €8m plus add-ons.

Maxi Lopez finished his loan stint with Sampdoria and now he has moved to Chievo. The other departures were low-key such as Gaetano Berardi moving to Leeds United, Matias Rodriguez to Gremio and Birkir Bjarnason moving back to Pescara.

Co-ownership deals were also sorted such as AC Milan gaining full ownership of Andrea Poli and Inter’s full purchase of Mauro Icardi.

Mihajlovic - SampdoriaThe Coach – Sinisa Mihajlovic

Serbian coach Sinisa Mihajlovic replaced Delio Rossi on the Sampdoria bench in November 2013 and he steered the Blucerchiati clear from the relegation zone.

Now the 45-year-old has had a full pre-season to work with the squad and he can implement his style of play on the team. Unlike Rossi, he has lost only one key player and he now has a president who is willing to find a replacement.

Mihajlovic started using the 4-2-3-1 formation early in his stint as Sampdoria coach but he eventually switched to a standard 4-3-3. Based on the pre-season friendlies, he will probably persist with the 4-3-3 formation.

Season Expectations

Sampdoria have survived relegation with ease in their two seasons back in Serie A but under Ferrero the team must aim for more than just a mid-table finish.

Ferrero wants Doria to qualify for Europe and even aim to win the scudetto in three years. While the latter may seem to be an outrageous claim, qualification for Europe is a possibility.

Players such as Vasco Regini, Stefano Okaka, Manolo Gabbiadini and Roberto Soriano will have more match experience under their belt. Having fit Pedro Obiang and finding a replacement for Mustafi will be important as well.

Brazilian striker Eder has been a prolific scorer in pre-season and La Gazzetta dello Sport recently rated him as one of the best Serie A strikers based on pre-season form. Also keep an eye on Fedato, who has also impressed in the pre-season.

Prediction

Quite a few teams have improved their rosters so far but if the Doriani can get off to a good start, battling for Europa League action is possible. If not, another mid-table finish is likely.

Where will they finish? Like I said, mid-table seems likely, probably 10th

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