Ahead of the 2019/20 season, it is perhaps one of the most intriguing summers in Italian football in recent years. Of course, just last year Juventus (Juve) signed one of the best footballers in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo so it might not be topped by worldwide headlines, but to the many that follow Italian football or perhaps, those who drop in now and again - this may be a huge season.
It is a season in which Juventus will go in as favourites(as they always do) but with lots to prove under new coach Maurizio Sarri. Another new team with a new coach is Inter Milan(Inter), who hired Antonio Conte, a move which surprised many but one which gives Inter more stability. And, finally, we come to the other team considered amongst the teams challenging for the Scudetto - Napoli. Napoli will go into their second season with Carlo Ancelotti and perhaps more fire in the players due to Sarri choosing to go to Juve - their bitter rivals.
Juventus appointed Sarri in June
With his announcement and the relationship between Juve and Napoli, Sarri’s choice came as a bitter blow to Neapolitans and a new direction for Juve. Juventus has always played a certain way, a way in which it was to win by any means necessary. Under Sarri, the team will be playing more expansive football. To match this, they have made some very good signings in young defenders Luca Pellegrini, Matthijs De Ligt and Merih Demiral. They have bolstered their midfield by the introductions of both Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey and they have also brought back club legend, Gianluigi Buffon.
The only noticeable outgoings in terms of transfers are the retiring Andrea Barzagli, the end of Martin Caceres’ loan and Leonardo Spinazzola to Roma.
Juve has by far the strongest squad in the league and the additions that have been made only emphasise this. The squad is strong and has quality in depth which teams around them must look to improve on if they want to keep up with Old Lady.
Inter appointed Conte in May
This came a day after it was announced that Luciano Spalletti was dismissed as coach and thus, began a new era. Or so the Inter board are hoping. To bring in a manager of Conte’s ability is a move in which would suggest that Juve’s spell of dominance may be coming to an end. That is if Conte gets the players to buy into his way of playing. Conte, the man who brought life to a Juventus side and began their spell of dominance, may just be the manager who takes it away from them.
Inter have made some steady signings, for the time being, bringing in the experienced Diego Godin and adding young talents like Valentino Lazaro, Stefano Sensi, and Nicolo Barella. The only notable exit from the Nerazzurri is Joao Miranda who left for China.
To cement themselves as a real challenge to Juve, they must (as previously mentioned) look to improve their strength in depth. Inter are not far away in terms of having a squad that can go all the way. With a few additions to key areas, under Conte’s stewardship, they can re-live the glory days that the Milan club is desperate to return to. Finishing anything less than second this season, may not be good enough. They finished ten points behind Napoli and fourth in the league albeit through goal difference to Atalanta.
Another season under Ancelotti
Through Ancelotti’s tenure, the side progressed in the Europa League to the Quarter Final of the competition and finished second yet again in the league. This year, however, they finished far behind their record point tally under Sarri; where they only finished four points behind Juve. In comparison to last season, Napoli finished eleven points behind.
Under Ancelotti, Napoli is much stronger and a more stable outfit. The problem has always been with their lack of quality in depth which is the same as Inter’s problem when it comes to mounting a title challenge.
Napoli’s transfer business thus far has been impressive. They look to have a solid pairing now that they have added Roma’s Kostas Manolas to partner Kalidou Koulibaly. However, this particular deal meant that Amadou Diawara went the other way. Napoli also retained the services of goalkeeper David Ospina from Arsenal, Giovanni Di Lorenzo was brought in for competition at right-back from Empoli and finally, Elif Elmas was brought in from Turkish side Fenerbahçe.
These three sides are the strongest but there must also be a small mention of Roma. Roma recently brought in Paulo Fonseca as manager from Shakhtar Donetsk. At this time, they have brought in the aforementioned Diawara and Spinazzola along with Spanish goalkeeper Pau Lopez. This Roma side, however, will need more time and heavy investment in order to mount a challenge.
What’s certain is that this season there is a huge chance for another team to steal Juventus’ crown. Inter Milan under Antonio Conte could be incredibly dangerous to the reign. Calcio is all about drama both on the pitch and in the stands. There will definitely be fireworks this season and drama right up until the final whistle.