It may be summer break, there are always more than enough hot topics in Serie A. Commentator and Lega Football host David Ferrini talks us through some of them and gave his views about multiple topics in Calcio.
Let’s start with the Champions. Napoli have won the Scudetto, but two architects of the success, coach Luciano Spalletti and Sporting Director Cristiano Giuntoli, are leaving the club, while it’s still uncertain if other stars will stay. Should this situation worry fans, or do you think they’ll still be a title contender next season?
“If it was any other club then I’d be worried, but we saw cataclysmic changes last summer in Naples which led to a Scudetto. Napoli will remain a contender for two factors. Spalletti already engrained a winning mentality into the players that took over the heavy lifting following last summer’s departures. We all remember the Uomini forti, destini forti. Despite the incoming coach and changes that brings with it, it seems that most of the other contenders bar Lazio are not intending to significantly strengthen. Rudi Garcia will have a full preseason with his squad so that will bolster his chances of success.”
Rudi Garcia has come in to replace Spalletti as the coach. Do you reckon he is a good fit for the Partenopei?
“Yes. Napoli needs an ambitious coach. While Garcia has won France’s Ligue 1, he was denied with Roma twice when he finished as runner-up between 2013-15. It’s the same bridesmaid run of bad luck that Luciano Spalletti went through which stoked the fire to continue on at a high level into his 60s. Garcia is going through that same period in his career. Tactically, Garcia seems more adventurous than Spalletti. He’s not afraid to change his formation based on the opponent, rather than deploying a system by default. This was demonstrated by his 4-2-3-1 in Ligue 1 and then switching to 3-5-2 in the Champions League where he knocked out Juventus and Manchester City in 2020.”
Sandro Tonali will soon officially join Newcastle United from Milan. What do you make of that transfer?
“It’s no surprise that ambitious clubs want great players and Tonali is someone who can provide another decade of big performances. Milan fans are undoubtedly hurting because this transfer is the club’s statement of intent. It reminds me of that Higuain to Juventus kind of heartbreak but at least Juventus is the biggest club in the land. It’s a shame that Tonali wont play in Serie A. Money talks. We’ve seen nation states like UAE winning a treble with Manchester City and that has created a template for other clubs and Newcastle United is funded by Saudi Arabia. Let’s hope that Milan fans don’t have to go through what Napoli fans endured last summer. That would be the equivalent of Tonali, Theo Hernandez, Rafa Leao and Maignan all leaving in the same transfer window. Serie A is bleeding. But the wound is sometimes just a symptom of the disease. The real issue is whether nation states should be allow to fund football clubs.”
Were you shocked by the departure of Milan Sporting Director and club legend Paolo Maldini?
“Absolutely. I believed that Maldini’s relationship with Milan would be eternal.”
What role does him leaving play in Tonali’s transfer. Many Milanisti say this wouldn’t have happened if Maldini was still there.
“Maldini’s exit is significant and it could actually be linked to the intentions of Paolo Scaroni and Gerry Cardinale. If you’re intending on cashing in on your best players, but your technical director and Sporting Director (Frederic Massara) want to maintain and build on what the club already has, then you’d strategically push the likes of Maldini out of the club. Milan has lost a portion of its prestige with Maldini’s departure to exacerbate what’s happening on the pitch.”
Marcelo Brozovic is another player that could leave Serie A, there’s interest from Saudi Arabia. How much would his departure hurt Inter?
“I’m sure Inter would have wanted another couple of seasons from Brozovic. With his departure, Inter will have concerns for their squad depth but there’s a long way to go in this transfer window. There are also big wraps on Kristjian Asllani, so this is his chance to shine.”
It’s early to ask, but what’s a player you’re excited to watch next year?
“Tommaso Baldanzi at Empoli should be set for a big season following breakout performances in 2022-23 and the FIFA u20 World Cup.”
Jurre van Wanrooij | GIFN