Serie A’s revival: Luka Modric to join Cristiano Ronaldo in Italy?
Italian football’s top teams are making headlines once again with major signings and big plans
On the international stage Italian football has had a tough time of late after missing out on the World Cup, but domestically it looks like the country’s top division is making a resurgence.
Throughout the 1990s Italy was the world’s footballing hot spot. The country hosted the 1990 World Cup and this sparked the arrival of some of the world’s best players to Italy’s top clubs.
From Gullit and Zidane to Baggio and Batistuta, Italy was the place to play calcio.
However, the rise of England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga has since taken the shine away from Serie A, Italy’s top flight. And with the exception of two Champions League final appearances by Juventus in 2015 and 2017, you have to go back nearly ten years since an Italian club last won Europe’s biggest prize - Internazionale in 2009-2010.
Could that be about to change?
Juve are aiming to buck that trend and have strengthened their squad by signing the Champions League’s best ever player and record goalscorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.
With Ronaldo in attack “The Old Lady” will no doubt be favourites to win an eighth successive scudetto and will also be gunning for Champions League glory.
While Juve seek to continue their domination, ESPN asks “could Ronaldo’s arrival on Italian shores be the catalyst for Serie A’s revival”?
Maybe it will. It’s not just Juve that are planning for a successful season. Their biggest rivals - Napoli, Roma, Inter and AC Milan - have big plans of their own and will aim to stop the bianconeri’s domination.
‘Serie A is stepping up’
Football-Italia.net writer Vilizar Yakimov says fans are excited for the new campaign with “proven winners” and “emerging talent” gracing Serie A this season and four teams back in the Champions League.
Yakimov says: “It’s been a while since there has been so much excitement before the start of a Serie A campaign. There are plenty of reasons for optimism for calcio fans. The Serie A big guns have made a significant leap in quality compared to last year.”
Napoli to be Juve’s main challenger?
Napoli may have lost Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea, but the appointment of new boss Carlo Ancelotti is a major statement of intent. Finishing just four points behind Juve last season, Ancelotti will look to lead his team one step further.
After Jorginho’s departure to Chelsea, Ancelotti’s main job will be to keep star players Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens, Marek Hamsik and Piotr Zielinski.
And according to the Football Whispers website Napoli are linked with PSG’s Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani while defender Matteo Darmian could arrive from Manchester United.
Inter eye Modric
Ronaldo may not be the only world star making the move from Spain to Italy this summer. Twitter exploded today with reports that Inter are keen on Real Madrid’s Luka Modric. The Croatian, 32, captained his country at the Fifa World Cup where he won the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player. His arrival would be a major coup.
This summer Inter have strengthened their defence by signing Modric’s Croatian teammate Sime Vrsalijko. His arrival on loan from Atletico Madrid has “drastically improved” Inter’s defence says Give Me Sport.
Former Roma star Radja Nainggolan has been added to Inter’s midfield which already features another Croatian, Ivan Perisic. Bayern Munich and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal is another target, CalcioMercato reports.
A midfield consisting of Nainggolan and Perisic alongside Modric or Vidal would rival the world’s best and provide even more ammunition for Inter striker and captain Mauro Icardi, Serie A’s joint top scorer last season with 29 goals.
All change at AC Milan
Milan had been in financial dire straits and were banned from this season’s Europa League by Uefa for overspending on transfer fees and wages. However, in recent weeks the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned Uefa’s ban and US hedge fund Elliott Management assumed full control of the club.
With rumours of incoming players and a new boss, it’s all looking rosier for the rossoneri.
On the pitch Milan look set to sign Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus, while a direct swap could see Leonardo Bonucci heading back to Juve and Mattia Caldara heading to Milan.
Off the pitch is where the biggest headlines are happening in Milan with former Chelsea and Italy head coach Antonio Conte linked with the club. And the Milan boardroom could also have a major signing in Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
The Daily Telegraph reports today that Arsenal are preparing for Gazidis’s possible departure after being formally told of Milan’s approach.
Alisson out, Messi in at Roma?
This summer Roma have lost goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool, midfielder Nainggolan to Inter and missed out on winger Malcom to Barcelona. Despite these setbacks they have made a number of top signings including attacking midfielder Javier Pastore from PSG and teenage winger Justin Kluivert from Ajax.
Reported targets include Suso from Milan and French World Cup winner Steven N’Zonzi from Sevilla - a player described as “a beast” by Roma president James Pallotta.
After finishing third in Serie A and reaching last season’s Champions League semi-finals, Roma will look to improve once again in 2018-2019.
With Juve signing Ronaldo and Inter linked with Modric could Roma shock the world with a stunning move of their own? Pallotta joked: “Will we buy a top player? We are already talking to Barcelona about Messi.”
We’ll wait and see on that, Signor Pallotta…