Sampdoria 2016/17 Serie A season preview: Samp look to bounce back, but it won't be easy

After finishing last season much too close to the relegation zone, Sampdoria will look for improvements in 2016/2017.

Sampdoria 2016/17 Serie A season preview: Samp look to bounce back, but it won't be easy
Sampdoria 16/17 season preview | Photo: Cammy Anderson/VAVEL

Last season was a major disappointment for Sampdoria. After finishing the 2014-2015 campaign in seventh position in the table ahead of the likes of Inter Milan, AC Milan, Torino and Udinese, the club made it into the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League.

Sampdoria would only go on to play one leg in the competition, crashing out to Serbian side FK Vojvodina by a 4-2 score on aggregate with Vojvodina scoring all four of their goals in Italy.

Despite that, the club did get off to a decent start in domestic play. Sampdoria notched an opening day win over Carpi, as well as a 2-2 draw away to Napoli. Following those two results, the team took care of Bologna at home.

However, after those contests, the Genoa-based club would only win eight more matches all season.

The team tried to shake things up during the winter transfer window. Free agent Ricky Alvarez was signed, while veterans Andrea Ranocchia and Fabio Quagliarella were brought in on loan. French defender Modibo Diakite was also signed.

Those moves, coupled with the loss of Eder to Inter, couldn’t help the club as they ultimately finished 15th in the table with 40 points. Carpi, the 18th-place finisher, was relegated with 38 points.

Image via Marco Bertorello/Getty Images
Image via Marco Bertorello/Getty Images

Objectives

In terms of objectives for the upcoming campaign, Sampdoria need to focus on making positive steps forward. They finished much too close to being relegated last campaign, and need to aim for a mid-table finish this time around.

Fixtures

The team has a somewhat manageable schedule out of the gates, so there is a chance to build momentum early. In the club’s first six games, Sampdoria will travel to Empoli, host Atalanta and play at Roma. Additionally, Samp will do battle with Milan in Genoa, before playing away to Bologna and Cagliari.

The contests with Roma and Milan won’t be easy, but Sampdoria has a chance early to get points on the board.

Down the stretch, the club’s schedule is a bit more challenging. The final six contests will include matchups with Torino, Lazio and Napoli. Of course, there are also games versus the likes of Chievo, Udinese and Crotone, but the first three clubs could all challenge for European places in the standings.

Transfers

The team will certainly have their work cut out for them after losing a number of players in the summer transfer market.

In defense, Niklas Moisander and Mattia Cassani both departed. The Finland defender left for German club Werder Bremen, while Cassani signed with domestic rivals Bari. Up front, Gianluca Sansone moved to Serie B outfit Novara.

The team’s most significant losses occurred in the midfield. Pawel Wszolek moved to Hellas Verona, while Nenad Krsticic became a free agent. While those two didn’t play significant roles, the likes of Fernando, Roberto Soriano and Joaquin Correa did.

Fernando was arguably the team’s best player, notching four goals and a pair of assists while completing 85.6% of his passes in the middle of the park—not to mention 6.3 long balls per game. What’s more, he paced the team with 2.7 interceptions and 2.5 tackles on average in each game.

Image via Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Image via Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Soriano acted as more of an offensive option for the club, providing productivity between the midfield and the forwards. The Italy international finished second to Eder on the team with eight goals while handing out four assists on 1.4 shots per game. Only two players had more assists on the club than Soriano did.

Correa, on the other hand, served as a building block for the future. The 21-year-old chipped in with three goals and an assist in 25 matches. The Argentine was second on the team with 2.4 dribbles per game, while completing 83.8 percent of his passes and contributing 0.8 key passes per game.

Fernando is on his way to Russian club Spartak Moscow, while Correa and Soriano will both play in Spain during the coming season. Correa was sold to European power Sevilla, while Soriano departed for Villarreal.

That’s a significant amount of production to replace, especially when the losses of Moisander and Cassani—two of the team’s better defenders—are also considered.

So far in the summer transfer market, the club has only signed three players.

Young Czech forward Patrik Schick has joined Sampdoria from Sparta Prague. The attacker scored on his international debut against Russia, and nearly made the Czech team that went to Euro 2016. Sampdoria will be hoping he can form an exciting attacking partnership with the likes of Luis Muriel and Antonio Cassano.

Also joining is Daniel Pavlovic, a veteran defender with significant experience in the Bundesliga and in Italy, as well as midfielder Luca Cigarini. In a perfect world, the 30-year-old Italian will help make up for the losses of the likes of Fernando and Soriano. Cigarini bagged a pair of goals and two assists in 26 appearances for Atalanta last season, completing 79.9% of his passes along the way.

New manager

With all the changes on the pitch, Sampdoria will also have to adapt to changes off the pitch. Vincenzo Montella departed for Milan, and was replaced by Marco Giampaolo. The veteran manager has experience with a number of Italian teams, from Cagliari to Siena and Empoli. 

Image via Carlo Baroncini/AP
Image via Carlo Baroncini/AP

Midfielders will be key

Considering that Cigarini is the only incoming replacement for three very different midfield players in Fernando, Soriano and Correa, the new manager could probably do with some more midfield options. Captain Angelo Palombo is still around, as are Edgar Barreto, Ricky Alvarez and Jose Campana, but an extra midfielder certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Will they meet expectations?

It will certainly be a test. With so many key contributors gone, the team will need new players to step in and contribute right away. The same can be said of young players breaking into the first team. Sampdoria will need all hands on deck to achieve anything close to a mid-table finish. It is certainly an attainable goal, but in no way is it an easy one either.