Sampdoria 2019-20 Season Preview: Can Di Francesco Bounce Back?

Sampdoria 2019-20 Season Preview: Can Di Francesco Bounce Back?

Key players have left, failed takeover bids, and a new coach has been brought in leaves Samp in purgatory

Marco Demarinis

Last season UC Sampdoria played some electric football at times lead by their evergreen striker Fabio Quagliarella, but their inconsistency left them in mid-table of Serie A come the end of the year. Sampdoria will be hoping to get off on the right foot in the 2019-20 season, as last years tragic collapse of the Ponte Morandi bridge in Genoa set a dour tone to the proceedings. Things, however, have still not settled down for the Blucerchiati as the current owner, the ever eccentric Roman Massimo Ferraro, has failed several times to hand the club over to a consortium hoping to buy the club. This has left the club in the grey area of transition that has unfortunately hampered their moves and preparation this summer. It's hard to see how they'll be able to improve on their 9th place finish last season.

Transfer Business Overview

As usual, it was a busy summer in Genoa for Sampdoria with several key contributors leaving the side either in a permanent transfer or loan deals ending. However, they were able to re-invest some of the money into some highly rated youngsters.

The biggest name departure during the offseason was centre-back Joachim Andersen moving on to Olympique Lyon in a €30 million deal. The highly-rated defender was able to be picked up by the French side after securing a huge transfer fee for Tanguy Ndombele from Tottenham FC. Lyon beat out several large sides such as Manchester United and AS Roma for the talented Dane.  

To replace their pillar at the back Samp has brought in several re-enforcements in order to plug the gap in the middle. Impressively securing a deal for former Inter Milan defender Jeison Murillo from Valencia, and highly touted youngsters in Julian Chabot and Fabio Depaoli from FC Groningen and Chievo respectively. 

The other lynchpin of the side, Dennis Praet, has also secured himself a big-money move to the Premier League's Leicester FC. Able to play in several positions through the middle of the park he will be greatly missed at the club. Often the driving force for Marco Giampoalo's side last season, it was only a matter of time until a bigger side swooped in. It was rumoured he would join his former coach at AC Milan, but they chose to bring in some cheaper options.

As Sampdoria tend to sell on their young stars quite often, they are also equally as excellent in replacing them and have done so in the form of making the loan deal for Czech Republic international Jakub Jankto's loan move permanent this summer.

In a similar vein, they have also been able to outright purchase the already capped Italian Emil Audero who was on loan from Juventus FC last season, which should further solidify the backline this season. 

Further, another midfield acquisition comes in the form of Gonzalo Maroni from Boca Juniors on loan with the option to buy. The attacking midfielder perfectly fits the mould of young and talented, whose stock is about to rise. He should slot in excellently with the more dynamic and vertical system set up by new manager Eusebio Di Francesco.

One player who has left that would have seemed to fit into the plans is Gregoire Defrel, the teams second-leading scorer last season. He was specifically requested during Di Francesco's time at Roma, but his option to buy was not taken up by Samp.

Samp is also being strongly linked to bringing in Hatem Ben Arfa as well to further bolster the winger position.


Getting a fresh start in northern Italy is perhaps exactly what incoming manager Eusebio Di Francesco needs. 

Following the epic highs and incredibly disappointing lows during his previous two seasons at Roma, the 49-year-old coach from Pescara is in dire need of a career reboot.

It seemed to be a match made in heaven when the ex-scudetto winning Roma player returned to sit on the bench of the Giallorossi, but what was almost a historic high soon became hellish.  Having reached the UEFA Champions League semi-final in his first season, only failing to reach the final by a solitary goal against Liverpool FC after their 'romantada' in the previous round against Barcelona FC everything seemed set up for him to build on his success.

However, after a dramatic offseason that saw several of his 'senatori' depart the club resulting in a large downturn of results last season. Struggling all season long, the wheels finally came off after a humiliating 7-1 defeat against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia, and then further embarrassment after they dropped out in the round of 16 of the Champions League against FC Porto after carrying a first-leg lead. 

He was dismissed shortly afterwards along with sporting director Ramon Monchi as Roma tried to pick up the pieces of a disastrous campaign.

Given another chance at a smaller club where there's not the same amount of pressure to win should be just the right fit for Di Francesco. His 4-3-3 formation should suit the players at his disposal, and the club does have a history of playing attractive and attacking football that the manager has an affinity for. Look for heavy build-up play between the full-backs and inverted wingers to carry the balance of play for the squad.

Player to Watch

Undoubtedly the star of the show is the talismanic and wondergoal scorer Fabio Quagliarella. At 36 years old the man simply does not stop scoring loads of goals, incredible goals, goals that people all over the world watch and ask themselves 'how did he do that?'. He's literally made a career of YouTube worthy strikes.

Last season not only was he the clubs leading scorer, but he won the capocannoniere with 26 league goals. Since he went public with his past issues with a very dangerous stalker, the Neapolitan born player has had a new lease of life.

For a time during the mercato, he was linked with a move back to his beloved SSC Napoli, but with so much uncertainty among the club it was deemed best he stayed another year. Look for Quagliarella to continue to put the ball in the back of the net as much as ever with the tactics of Di Francesco are sure to compliment his skill set.

One for the Future

Samp has indeed signed some young and intriguing midfield players this offseason, but the one that you should look to take the next step in his career is Karol Linetty.

Linetty, 24, is already a Polish international player with 23 caps to his name.  Having played over 2300 minutes of league football last season for Samp, and registering three goals as well as three assists, he is well on his way to becoming one of the most dynamic young players in the Serie A. 

Approaching what should be the prime of his career, and with Praet moving on this summer a lot of the responsibilities of making the team tick should fall on his shoulders. 

Look for Linetty to build on his promising relationship with full-back Bartosz Bereszynski, as in Di Francesco's system a large part of the build-up play will flow through them. 

According to WhoScored he averaged an incredibly impressive passing percentage of 84.1%, and averaged 39.1 passes per game, so look for him to build on those attributes with a verticalized approach to the game suiting his characteristics.

Predicted Finish

With all the unpredictability around the club with the sale of the team still fluctuating day by day, as well as losing some key members of the team it's going to be an interesting year in Genoa. 

The makings of the team, however, are still rather strong, and should all the pieces fit together under the new coaches tactics they could be a surprise package this upcoming season. 

It is hard however to believe they'll have what it takes to overcome the other teams in front of them for a Europa League place, one in which they flirted with being in the race for at times last season.

Expect Sampdoria to continue to play attractive football, but still be inconsistent at times and finish just above mid-table once again this season. It'll be extremely difficult for them to finish above Lazio, AC Milan, but with Atalanta and perhaps even Torino playing in Europe this season they may be able to leapfrog one of those sides. 

A seventh place finish would be a positive placement for them come the end of the season, but anything lower than ninth would be a disaster.