Seven Questions for the Seven Sisters: Storylines to Watch in Serie A This Summer

Fresh off Juventus’ seventh straight Scudetto here are the questions I’m asking the seven sisters of Italian Football.

Juventus: How many years does the old guard have left?

Times are changing in Turin. With the news that Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will leave the club this summer and the sale of Defender Leonardo Bonucci last summer to A.C. Milan, the Old Lady have signaled a changing of the guard. Club icons Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichsteiner, and Claudio Marchisio have been together with the Bianconeri since 2010 and have won seven straight Italian titles. This core, defense-first and tactically solid, led Juventus to Champions League Finals in 2015 and 2017.  Recent years have seen the acquisition of young talents Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, and Rodrigo Bentacur to supplement the core. The question remains, though, how long can Chiellini and company maintain their level of dominance. Management certainly seems to think that the clock is ticking quickly. Just in the past week, Juventus has signed Goalkeeper Mattia Perin from Genoa and, if reports from Sky Sport Italia are to be believed, Midfielder Emre Can from Liverpool. Further, Mauro Icardi and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have been heavily linked with Turin Giants. With each consecutive Scudetto, expectations skyrocket for the Old Lady. To keep ahold of their dominance over the Peninsula, new faces must be integrated into the squad. Juventus’ 2018-2019 title defense seems to balance on their ability to find the right mix of youth and experience.

Napoli: Can beautiful football win a championship?

Eventually Juventus’s dominance of Italy has to end, right? The Neapolitans certainly have done their part to bring an end to the Black and White Dynasty. This season saw Napoli become the first team to ever reach 90 points in Serie A and not claim the Scudetto. Under Maurizio Sarri’s guidance, Napoli finished runner’s up in 2015-2016 and the past campaign. Sarri’s brand of football was one of the most visually appealing in all of Europe. Yet, for all of their wonderful passing combinations, Napoli could never get over the hump to dethrone Juventus. After Napoli’s first ever victory over Juventus in Turin in April, the title seemed within their grasp. However, their 3-0 thrashing in Florence combined with Juventus’ thrilling 2-1 comeback on the road against Inter essentially ended the Neapolitans’ hopes. Contract talks stalled between Sarri and the club in May, and Napoli announced Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement on May 23. The appointment of Ancelotti signals the club’s reaffirmation to win their first Scudetto since 1990. Ancelloti, though, must decide how to balance beautiful football and winning championships. Ancelotti’s style has been elegant in the past and, based on the current roster, it seems that Napoli will likely lead Serie A in possession for the fourth straight year. Ancelotti’s ability to build a squad able to grind out tough results will decide Napoli’s fate in the upcoming campaign.

Roma: How necessary is Allison to di Francesco?

Was there a bigger surprise in Europe than A.S. Roma’s run to the Champions League Semis? Yet, here we are a month later, and rightly or wrongly, the big story coming from the capitol is the future of Goalkeeper Allison. The Brazilian was certainly an import piece in Eusebio di Francesco’s system, and both Liverpool and Real Madrid are rumored to heavily interested in acquiring the keeper. Roma, though, have set his price at €90 million. The Giallorossi certainly fit their style this year to Allison’s distribution ability. Allison’s shot stopping was instrumental, too, leading Roma to allow the second fewest goals on the peninsula. Francesco faces a tough decision, then. Selling Allison takes away the base of Roma’s success all year, defense. An attack that struggled of long stretches of the season will have to be improved if Roma desire to challenge for the Italian title if Roma moves on from their keeper.

Inter Milan: How close is the club to meeting the Financial Fair Play threshold?

Inter Milan’s dramatic victory over Lazio on the final match day insured their place in the top four, and the Champions League spot it entails. Former Sporting Director Walter Sabatini said the victory could be “the turning point” for Inter in their rebuild. This turning point, though, may be dependent on their finances. The cash Champions League play brings will be instrumental to their upcoming Financial Fair Play assessment on June 30. If the Nerazzuri fail to show a €50m profit , they could potentially face serious sanctions. Multiple outlets have reported that Strike Mauro Icardi is for sale, since his €110 million price tag  would certainly settle their finances. Should Inter sell Icardi, they return only one other double digit scorer. The excitement surrounding the club and their belief in themselves to challenge for a Scudetto in the next campaign really depends on their finances. For me, Inter’s upcoming campaign will, for better or for worse, depend upon the retention of Icardi. His sale, though, may be required to avoid sanctions.

Lazio: When is the right time to sell Milinković-Savić?

The Eagles of Rome are not blessed with the deep pockets of their cross-town rivals. Hence, keeping players of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s quality is often unrealistic, though his current contract runs through 2022. In Serie A this season, the Serbian Midfielder scored 12 times and added four assists for good measure. Juventus, Manchester United, and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked to the midfielder. Lazio have reportedly set Milinkovic-Savic’s price at  €110 million, though the club reportedly turned down a €170 million offer from PSG in December. The loss of Milinkovic-Savic alongside Defender Stefan de Vrij’s departure would be a serious blow to Lazio. The story of the summer for the Eagles will certainly be the rising price of their Serbian starlet– will a large offer come in to meet their demands?

A.C. Milan: Where is the money?

Stop me if you have heard this before, but it comes down to money for a Milan club. Last summer, A. C. Milan stole the show with their nearly €200 million of incoming transfers. Coming into the campaign, most expected the new cast of stars for the Rossoneri to lead them easily to a Champions League spot. However, their poor form throughout the first half of the season left them in such a hole that Manager Genarro Gatusso’s run late in the year could only qualify them for Europa League. The lack of Champions League cash left a large deficit in their books. The New York Times is reporting that UEFA investigators will recommend Milan be removed from Europa League for their financial discrepancies. After his purchase of the club last summer, owner Yonghong Li supported the expensive overhaul of the roster. It appears now, though, that Li will be unable to meet the payments on his €380 million loan from Elliot Management. Gatusso’s leadership brought a new sense of hope to Milan. However, possible sanctions, potentially exclusion from Europe, would seriously hinder their ambitions. More so than even their cross-town rivals, Milan’s upcoming campaign will be defined by the decisions of UEFA.

Fiorentina: Are Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone’s futures in Florence?

When a team sells 9 of its 11 starters in a transfer window, as Fiorentina did last summer, expectations understandably dip. Coming into the season, some believed Stefano Pioli’s side would flirt with relegation, and most expected a mid-table finish. After the tragic death of their captain, Davide Astori, in March, the squad reeled off five straight victories. Their young attackers Giovanni Simeone and Federico Chiesa propelled the squad into Europa League contention. Though ultimately finishing eighth and out of Europe, both Simeone and Chiesa showed great promise. Sporting Director Pantaleo Corvino has said the pair will stay in Florence for at least this summer, but when a truly massive offer comes in for one of the Viola‘s young attackers, Corvino must consider selling. Fiorentina’s owners, Diego and Andrea Della Valle, have stated their intentions for the club to become self-financing, and sadly, clubs like Fiorentina cannot expect for young stars to commit their careers to Florence. Whether such an offer will come this summer is yet to be seen. If the Viola can keep their attacking pair over the summer, expect big things in Florence next season.

Which club has the most to prove this mercato? Let us know by commenting below or by tweeting us @AllOutFootball_ with the hashtag #AOF.