With the 2017/18 Serie A season now over, we take a look at who is our signing of the season.
SIGNING OF THE SEASON
MILAN SKRINIAR (INTERNAZIONALE)
In the blue half of Milan, contrasting circumspection in the transfer market gained large reward.
Central to this success was the decision to land Skriniar from Sampdoria for a, now bargain, fee. The 23-year-old provided the perfect foil for experienced Brazil centre-back Miranda and created a bedrock for Inter’s progress to be built upon.
The Slovakia international swiftly proved himself to be an all-action component of the rearguard, yet he shows no panic when in possession. These abilities make him a fusion of Lucio and Ivan Cordoba, standout performers from the previous generation at San Siro.
It is no wonder a critical 19 fewer goals were conceded by Inter in Serie A as they earned a return to Europe’s top table. He should grow into one of the globe’s finest defenders.
Douglas Costa (Juventus)
When a head coach like the relaxed Carlo Ancelotti grows exasperated with you, there is probably a terminal issue with attitude at play.
Yet Brazil winger Costa, 27, was a revelation on loan from Bayern Munich. Only Lazio’s Luis Alberto (14) got more than his 12 assists.
Cengiz Under (Roma)
The 20-year-old right winger took awhile to get going, not finding the back of the net until February’s 1-0 win against Hellas Verona.
The Turkey international would then go on to show why he is one of the continent’s brightest stars, ending up with seven goals in 25 Serie A run-outs.
Cheick Diabate (Benevento)
Relegated Benevento didn’t get much right during their sorry first top-flight campaign.
But the winter move for the giant Mali centre forward was inspired. An incredible eight goals followed in 11 top-flight matches.
With the 2017/18 Serie A season now over, we take a look at who is our flop of the season.
FLOP OF THE SEASON
ANDRE SILVA (AC MILAN)
You could almost take your pick from the largely erroneous €210m (Dh908.4m) summer spend from AC Milan.
But while several initial flops – such as Leonardo Bonucci and Hakan Calhanoglu – improved under Gennaro Gattuso, Portugal prospect Silva remained a dud.
Much was expected after €38m (Dh164.4m) was required to wrestle him from Porto. For only two Serie A goals in 24 run-outs to follow was a huge disappointment. Admittedly, this miserly output is boosted somewhat by his eight goals from the Europa League.
The 22-year-old striker has the World Cup to rehabilitate his image. If he isn’t flogged to agent Jorge Mendes’ Portuguese enclave at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the only way is up at the Rossoneri.
Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan)
The AC Milan fans wanted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, then of Borussia Dortmund. Instead, they got the Croatia striker on loan from Fiorentina with a €25m (Dh108.2m) obligation to buy after centre-back Leonardo Bonucci surprisingly was made available at Juventus.
Kalinic looked a shadow of the player who’d made it into the teens in both of his previous campaigns. His six goals from 31 matches is a major reason why the Champions League was missed.
Alessio Cerci (Hellas Verona)
The downwards spiral continues for a 30-year-old forward who once threatened to thrill Italy fans for years to come.
After being rescued from anonymity at Atletico Madrid, Cerci repaid the relegation-bound Gialloblu with three goals and two assists in 24 forgettable matches.
Great expectations met the capture of the promising Brazil youth international last summer.
But a combination of teething problems and a serious foot injury restricted the 21-year-old centre-back to just four Serie A appearances. Let’s hope much more is to come in 2018/19.
With the 2017/18 Serie A season now over, we take a look at who makes our team of the season.
SERIE A TEAM OF THE SEASON: 4-3-1-2
Alisson; Joao Cancelo, Milan Skriniar, Giorgio Chiellini, Aleksandar Kolarov; Luis Alberto, Miralem Pjanic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic; Paulo Dybala; Mauro Icardi, Ciro Immobile
GK – Alisson (Roma)
The starkest breakthrough campaign experienced by any player in Europe. The Brazil No1 went from playing zero games in 2016/17’s Serie A, to being by far the best goalkeeper in the competition. Phenomenal agility was exhibited throughout a campaign that featured 17 clean sheets – only Napoli’s Pepe Reina notched more.
RB – Joao Cancelo (Internazionale)
The flying right-back has proved a revelation since being picked up on loan from Valencia last summer. Has added real dynamism to a position that Inter have failed to fill in the years since Javier Zanetti exited. If owners Suning Holdings Group can find the free cash, a permanent move is a must.
CB – Milan Skriniar (Internazionale)
Another expert summer addition by the Inter hierarchy. The €20 million (Dh86.5m) required to prise the 23-year-old from Sampdoria appeared wiser by the commanding performance. This influence is extended to both penalty boxes. It is no wonder that teams such as Barcelona have been so strongly linked to him.
CB – Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
At 33-years old, Chiellini’s best days are behind him. But this doesn’t mean he cannot act as the snarling face of a Juventus backline that remained the best in Italy. His enduring quality is shown by the fact his 350th Serie A appearance was notched in March. A goalless draw, of course, against SPAL.
LB – Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma)
The Serbia left-back has enjoyed an Indian summer now he’s been freed from the sidelines, or centre-back duties, at Manchester City. Even though he’s turned 32-years old this term, he’s consistently provided a lively presence from left-back for Roma. A return of eight assists is utterly outstanding and helped quell doubts caused by his Lazio ties.
CM – Luis Alberto (Lazio)
Another whose talent blossomed this term. The attacking midfielder has been central to a campaign for Lazio that promised so much until the final day. A tally of 11 goals and 14 assists points to his excellent productivity. A feint that took out the entire SPAL defence was his season highlight.
CM – Miralem Pjanic (Juventus)
The glue that held the omnipotent Juve midfield together. At 28-years old, the Bosnia international is beginning to apply a huge influence. A tally of five goals and nine assists points to his continued ability from dead balls. The only black mark was the fortune that saw him denied a red card against Inter.
CM – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)
The Serbia international is, unquestionably, a coming force in football. Standing more than 1.90 metres tall but blessed with divine poise and grace, he made the left-hand side of Lazio’s centre midfield his own. Was Lazio’s second-highest scorer with 12 goals. This €100m-rated (Dh432m) prospect deserves the Champions League-stage.
FW – Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
The Argentina forward burst out of the blocks in 2017/18, registering 12 goals and four assists during a sensational opening seven Serie A games. There looked few better players on the planet at that time. His level would then dramatically fluctuate, but it’s hard to question a spot in the team of the year.
CF – Mauro Icardi (Internazionale)
A truly talismanic figure for Inter. The skipper’s 29 goals in 34 Serie A games dominated the club’s tally. Without the weight of this contribution, a return to the Champions League for the first time in six years would not have happened. What a loss for World Cup 2018 that he has not been picked by Argentina.
CF – Ciro Immobile (Lazio)
After an underwhelming few years on the road, Lazio continues to feel like home for Immobile. Built on 2016/17’s fine debut campaign, finishing joint Capocannoniere – top scorer – with Icardi. The 28-year-old’s insane back-heel volley to snatch a late 2-2 draw at Cagliari will live long in the memory of all calcio watchers.