Cagliari may not be one of Serie A’s big hitters, but last year was spent largely treading water. There were bright spots in the form of Leonardo Pavoletti and Nicolo Barella, though the lows far outnumbered the highs.
While Rolando Maran might argue that his squad was not up to standard, he has been backed in the transfer market over the summer and the Isolani hierarchy will be determined to improve their fortunes this time around. Fifteenth place will not be good enough.
Summer Dealings – 7/10
The big news coming out of Sardinia over the summer is the return of Radja Nainggolan to the Sardegna Arena. The home-coming Belgian will be a definite boost to a midfield shorn of talented youngster Barella.
Meanwhile, on the right hand side of the field, Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors, and Fabrizio Cacciatore from Chievo Verona, will have to combine to overcome the loss of Dario Srna’s assists. Luca Pellegrini is also back at the club after joining on loan from Juventus, after moving to Turin from Roma earlier in the summer.
Key man – Nahitan Nandez
When you re-sign a player of Nainggolan’s quality, all eyes inevitably turn that way. However, Nandez is a versatile and creative force in midfield, more than capable of blossoming into a real gem. If the young Uruguayan hits the ground running, Cagliari could be in for something special indeed.
One To Watch – Marko Rog
Although slipping under the radar a little, Marko Rog has the potential to make the most of the freedom that playing alongside a hustling Nainggolan will bring. The bright Croatian midfielder has shown his talent in flashes with both Napoli and Sevilla, but at the age of 24, this season could be pivotal in his career.
The Coach- Rolando Maran
Rolando Maran looks to have a squad better suited to his preferred 4-3-1-2 formation this year, which should take some of the goalscoring responsibility from Pavoletti, though it is arguable he might benefit more from a set-up that includes out and out wingers.
Prediction – 11th
There is a buzz about Cagliari and with a settled side, and an improved one, the only way is up.