For the first season in what feels like a long time, Serie A’s top clubs spent big this summer in a bid to close the gap between themselves and champions Juventus. The only problem with that, however, is that Juventus themselves have spent big money to secure a record-breaking sixth straight Scudetto title. It must be said that despite losing the likes of Alvaro Morata, Simone Zaza and the big guy Paul Pogba, Juve have done fairly well to replace them.
Below the Old Lady is a race for second place (and maybe even the title, who knows) that is set to be extremely exciting. Roma, Inter and Napoli have all bolstered their squads and all three believe that they can push Juve all the way, and at the very least reach the group stage of next seasons UEFA Champions League.
Not only that, but a certain goalkeeper from the blue side of Manchester has arrived in Turin, and is set to make a name for himself!
Gonzalo Higuain- Napoli to Juventus- £76.5M
When Juve lost Spaniard Alvaro Morata to Real Madrid this summer, many wondered who would replace him to partner Paulo Dybala up front. Names like Romelu Lukaku and Edinson Cavani were mentioned, but few could have seen Gonzalo Higuain leaving Naples to move to the Bianconeri, especially for the price that was paid.
For Napoli fans, it was horrific. They proceeded to burn his shirts amongst other things but for Juve they had bought a striker who the season previous had broken a record that had stood for 66 years by scoring 35 goals for Napoli.
Unless something goes horribly wrong for Higuain, Juve have bought the best goal scorer in the league as they search for the record sixth straight title.
Miralem Pjanic- Roma to Juventus- £27M
Paul Pogba often stole the headlines in Serie A and was given the title of the best midfielder in all of Italy, but when Pogba left Juventus, Juve decided to buy the next best thing from rivals Roma. Miralem Pjanic, statistically, was equal or better than Pogba himself, but the Bosnian was never given the credit he deserved. Now, he has the chance to replace Pogba in every way possible.
When you consider how much money was branded around this summer, £27M for arguably the best creative midfielder in Europe is a bargain, and if Max Allegri sticks to the much loved 3-5-2 formation, Pjanic could be a great creative lynchpin to compliment Dybala and Higuain.
Dani Alves- Barcelona to Juventus- Free Transfer
I promise there is more to this list than just Juventus players, but the Italian champions have had arguably the best mercato of any club in Europe. That includes the incredibly shrewd signing of Alves on a free transfer.
Juve hold high hopes of winning the Champions League this season, and if anyone knows what it takes to win a Champions League it’s Dani Alves. The 33-year-old holds three winners medals of Europe’s elite competition, and will add knowledge of how to get over the final hurdle.
Not only that, but Alves will add to the already stacked defence that Juventus have, and can add competition to the right back position along side Stephan Lichsteiner. For a free transfer, it’s not often that you find someone of the ability and pedigree of Alves, and he can only make Juve better defensively, if that’s even possible.
Gabriel Barbosa- Santos to Inter Milan- £24M
Now this is a transfer that should really excite Inter Milan fans. There’s a reason why Gabriel Barbosa is commonly known by his nickname “Gabigol”, and his goal record for former club Santos has earned him comparisons to the likes of Neymar and Luis Suarez.
What all Inter fans are hoping is whether Gabigol and Mauro Icardi can strike up a deadly partnership and who knows, maybe they could fire them to a Scudetto? Under Frank de Boer, Gabigol could thrive in this Inter side, with Ever Banega and Icardi potentially giving him some chances to tuck the ball home.
At the age of 20, Gabigol is very versatile across the front line, and can pose a threat in any of the three positions, including both wings and as the central striker.
Yes, £24M for a 20-year-old who has only played in Brazil could be seen as a gamble, but if it pays off then Inter could have a superstar on their hands.
Joe Hart- Manchester City to Torino- Loan
Speaking of gambles, Joe Hart faces the biggest gamble of his career as he prepares for life at Torino on a season-long-loan. Pep Guardiola made it perfectly clear to the England international that there wasn’t a place in his City side for Hart, and promptly made him available for loan.
I must admit that I was surprised by Hart’s choice to play for Torino over Sunderland but I commend him for taking such a risk and expand his footballing knowledge by playing for one of Italy’s biggest clubs.
Also, it’s easy to forget that Sinisia Mihajlovic has found himself a top goalkeeper to add to his ever-growing project in Turin after his sacking as AC Milan manager. Hart can become a key member for Torino this season, and who knows, maybe he will stay in Turin past his original one-year-loan?
Bartlomiej Dragowski- Jagiellonia Bialystok to Fiorentina- £3M
On paper, this signing may not be in the same calibre as Joe Hart or Gonzalo Higuain, but Dragowski is an incredibly gifted young goalkeeper who will have a huge impact at Fiorentina if he gets minutes.
At 19 years of age, Dragowski shows an incredible amount of maturity between the sticks, and gives the Viola a suitable and steady option if Tatarusanu gets injured or loses form.
For some, they may only recognize this name as someone to sign whenever you start a manager career on FIFA 16, but Fiorentina have scouted Dragowski intensely last season and felt that it was good for the club if they purchased the young pole.
Ever Banega- Sevilla to Inter Milan- Free Transfer
Another shrewd free transfer in Serie A, this time by Inter Milan in the form of Argentine international Ever Banega. Bought by Valencia from Boca Juniors in 2008, Banega was sent out on loan to Atletico Madrid and Newell’s Old Boys without much success until he moved to Sevilla where he really caught the eye of Europe.
Europa League success with the Spanish club earned Banega a move to Inter, where he could become one of the leagues top midfielders if he is given enough time to settle into his new surroundings.
Under new boss Frank de Boer, Banega could become the most valuable player in this new look Inter side, and he could be the one to link defence into attack with the helps of those such as Ivan Perisic and Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Arkadiusz Milik- Ajax to Napoli- £27M
It’s a tough task to replace the goals of Gonzalo Higuain, but it’s certainly not impossible. Napoli spent a big chunk of the money received from the Higuain deal to sign Polish striker Milik from Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam and whilst he comes with a large price tag and some huge boots to fill, Milik has enough ability to score goals.
His Euro 2016 campaign for Poland was enough for Napoli to spend just under £27M on him and trust him as the Maurizio Sarra’s number one striker. Could he be the one to replace Higuain? Maybe, but at such an early stage of his Napoli career, it’s impossible to predict how he will do.
Two goals in his Serie A debut against AC Milan is a good indication that he will be a goal getter and leave the attackers behind him to do all the creative work.
Joao Mario- Sporting Lisbon to Inter Milan- £34M
After winning Euro 2016, Joao Mario was a very sought after winger amongst some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The winger was a big part of Portugal’s success in France this summer, and he was able to showcase his skills in front of a larger audience than he would for his boyhood club Sporting back in Portugal.
The 23-year-old made the move to the San Siro this summer for a hefty price tag that will demand that he hits the ground running for Inter, but if his Euro 2016 performances are anything to go by, he shouldn’t have a problem with that at all.
The signings of Mario, Banega and Gabigol have raised expectations amongst Inter’s fanbase, and with new boss Frank de Boer at the helm many are expecting that they can push for second spot and an automatic Champions League place ahead of rivals AC Milan, Roma and Napoli.
Nikola Maksimovic- Torino to Napoli- £17M
Maksimovic joins Sarri and his boys at Napoli after impressing last season with Torino, but new Torino boss Sinisia Mihajlovic was seemingly okay to let one of his defenders join a domestic rival on loan.
Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri obviously felt that he needed a new centre back this season, and called upon Maksimovic to take over from Vlad Chiriches at the back at the San Paolo stadium.
It’s a promising picture imagining Maksimovic teaming up at the back with Kalidou Koulibaly, especially considering that Antonio Conte’s Chelsea had reportedly been interested in both centre backs this summer.
The Serbian defender is only at Napoli on loan for this season, but does have an option to join the club permanently at the end of the season for £17M if he impresses the club enough.