After winning the Serie A title for the ninth season in a row in 2019-20, Juventus have four players in Opta’s Team of the Season.
The 2019-20 Serie A campaign ended up with a familiar champion as Juventus clinched a ninth successive Scudetto, and their success is reflected in Opta’s Team of the Season.
Although Juve finished 2019-20 just a point ahead of second-placed Inter, they had wrapped up the title with two games to go – beating Sampdoria 2-0 on 26 July.
Cristiano Ronaldo was unsurprisingly key, finishing as his team’s top scorer, but for much of the season there were a few sides that looked like they might push Juve all the way.
Inter, Atalanta and Lazio all had their moments where they were able to dream and they each had individuals who impressed.
Following the conclusion on the campaign on Sunday, we teamed up with Opta to outline the Serie A Team of the Season.
OPTA’S SERIE A TEAM OF THE SEASON
GK: Wojciech Szczesny, Juventus
Poland international Szczesny has come a long way since struggling in the latter part of his Arsenal career. He was once again a dependable option between the posts, remaining first choice despite the return of Gianluigi Buffon. He ended the season with a 74.4 per cent save success rate, the best of the Serie A goalkeepers to have played 20 or more times.
RB: Juan Cuadrado, Juventus
Hardly the most convincing of defenders, granted, but Cuadrado boasts the versatility to play in a few roles down the right flank and he became an important figure for Maurizio Sarri – his 28 Serie A starts is just one fewer than he managed in the previous two seasons combined. The Colombian was certainly influential, too, as he was involved in more open-play sequences that ended with a shot made by someone else (132) than any other player this term. He also chipped in with two goals and five assists.
CB: Stefan de Vrij, Inter
No team conceded fewer goals in Serie A this season than an Inter side that Antonio Conte ensured was well-drilled. Netherlands centre-back De Vrij played a major role in that as he featured 34 times – though his efforts were not notable just for his defensive effectiveness. The former Feyenoord man scored three goals and also set up another three, making him the most productive centre-back in the league in this regard.
CB: Francesco Acerbi, Lazio
After Inter, the next-best defensive unit in Serie A was Lazio, who let in 42 (six more than Conte’s men). Acerbi missed just two games all season and his form at the start of the season also saw him make three starts for Italy. The 32-year-old has proven himself to be one of Serie A’s best stoppers, as evidenced by the fact he was dribbled past just six times this term. No other outfield player with more than 35 appearances did better than that.
LB: Theo Hernández, Milan
Former France youth international Hernández has rediscovered the early promise he showed during a fine loan spell at Deportivo Alavés in 2016-17. While question marks remain over his defensive abilities, the Atlético Madrid youth product has excited with his attacking tendencies in 2019-20. No defender completed more dribbles (57) than him, while he also had a hand in nine goals (six goals, three assists).
CM: Luis Alberto, Lazio
Since leaving Liverpool for Rome in 2016, Luis Alberto has arguably developed into one of the world’s best creative midfielders. The Spain international sees passes few others can and he has put that to particularly good use in 2019-20, with his 106 chances created being a Serie A high. Similarly, his 15 assists was second only to Alejandro Gómez (16), as he helped Simone Inzaghi’s men mount a title challenge. Often linked with a return home to Sevilla, Lazio will surely be doing everything they can to keep Luis Alberto at Stadio Olimpico.
CM: Fabián Ruiz, Napoli
The other half of a Seville-centric midfield, Real Betis product Fabián probably hasn’t impressed quite as much as he did in 2018-19, but he has nevertheless continued to show plenty of promise. Still only 24, Fabián attempted the most passes (2,331) of any player in the league this season, while he had a hand in nine goals, the same amount as in the previous campaign.
AM: Alejandro Gómez, Atalanta
Like a fine wine, ‘Papu’ Gómez just seems to get better with age. Now 32, the Argentinian has enjoyed a fantastic season for the often-exhilarating Atalanta. He scored seven goals for a second successive season, but his haul of 16 assists is five more than 2018-19. That figure is the highest since Opta records began in 2004-05.
FWD: Paulo Dybala, Juventus
The Sarri-Juventus combination continues to puzzle many, but if there’s one thing he has got right, it’s helping Dybala get back to something resembling his best. He had been strongly linked with a move away last year, but Dybala was involved in 17 Serie A goals this term (11 goals, six assists) and managed to coexist with Ronaldo more effectively. Of his 11 strikes, eight (73 per cent) were the opening goals of matches, the biggest quantity among players with 10 or more.
FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus
Considering there have been murmurs of discontent between himself and Sarri, and suggestions the coach hasn’t been able to get the best out of the Portugal great, Ronaldo’s had a pretty effective year. With 31 league goals, it’s been his best goal-scoring campaign domestically since getting 35 with Real Madrid in 2015-16, while his goals have secured 24 points, more than any other player.
FWD: Ciro Immobile, Lazio
What a season Immobile has had. With 36 league goals, the Italy international equalled Gonzalo Higuaín’s record for a single campaign, while that haul also won him the coveted European Golden Shoe. On top of that, his record of nine assists was bettered by only Gómez, Luis Alberto and Domenico Berardi. If he can keep it up, Lazio will surely fancy their chances of
The Lazio striker was on target in Saturday’s defeat to Napoli to beat Robert Lewandowski’s 34 goals for Bayern Munich.
Lazio striker Ciro Immobile brought his Serie A season to a close on Saturday on 36 goals, making him the top scorer in Europe and the winner of this year’s Golden Shoe award.
Immobile pips Lewandowski and Cristiano The Capocannoniere of the Italian top flight, also equalled the league record set by Gonzalo Higuaín with Napoli in 2016. Immobile beat his closest rivals for the Golden Shoe, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who ended on 34 goals and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished on 31.
Immobile went into today’s match, the final league game of the season, already knowing that Cristiano had been left out of the Juve squad for their meeting with Roma. He becomes the third Italian winner of the Golden Shoe after Luca Toni (2006) and Francesco Totti (2007).
The Spanish league’s dominance of the award also comes to an end – since 2009, LaLiga players have ended as European football’s top scorer for the past 11 years with Leo Messi (6) and Cristiano Rolando (4) claiming the award during the best part of a decade and Luis Suárez and Diego Forlán winning in 2014 and 2016 respectively..
Juventus are reportedly planning to offer Federico Bernardeschi as part of the proposed deal to bring Roma starlet Nicolò Zaniolo to Turin.
The two sides swapped Leonardo Spinazzola for Cagliari loan-star Luca Pellegrini last summer and Bryan Cristante was previously linked with a deal including Rolando Mandragora, who eventually moved from Juve to Udinese.
Tuttosport claims the Bianconeri are trying to take advantage of an uncertain time financially in the capital and could offer the former Fiorentina winger as a part of the deal to bring Zaniolo to the Allianz Stadium.
The newspaper writes that Roma would like to keep the Italy international, who is currently recovering from a knee injury he sustained during a match against the Old Lady in January, but could have to consider sacrificing the playing to fix their budget this summer.
Bernardeschi has struggled to convince coach Maurizio Sarri this term and has appeared 18 times, starting only nine games in Serie A this season.
Lazio are allegedly looking to reward Ciro Immobile with the captaincy and a new deal, tying him to the Olimpico until 2025.
The leading goalscorer has suggested to end his career with the Aquile, who seem ready to grant the Italy international’s wish and give him further responsibility on the pitch.
La Gazzetta dello Sport claims the idea is to renew the current contract and extend the expiration date until June 2025, when Immobile will have turned 35 years old.
Senad Lulic, who has played 20 games in Serie A this term, turned 34 in January and the Bosnia international will pass on the armband to Immobile when his contract expires in June.
Immobile has declared his wish to remain with the Biancocelesti and will be a natural choice for the captaincy, as he has been leading the line with his valuable contributions in front of goal in recent years.
Only this term, the 30-year-old has scored 27 goals in Serie A and has contributed seven assists in his 26 matches, playing 93 per cent of the minutes available in the League so far.
Serie A officials remain committed to seeing out the season, even if it is behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The league was suspended indefinitely in March due to COVID-19 and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has already stated that the 2019-20 campaign will not resume until the health and safety of all concerned can be guaranteed.
Italy’s minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora is hoping to confirm a May 4 date for the return to Serie A training as soon as possible, with the current restrictions on movement and outdoor activities set to end on May 3.
There have been reports that seven clubs, including Torino and Sampdoria, are against the resumption of the campaign but Lega Serie A released a statement on Monday.
“The Lega Serie A Council that met today unanimously confirmed its intention to complete the 2019-2020 season, if the government allows it to take place in full compliance with the rules for the protection of health and safety,” a statement from Italy’s top flight read.
“The resumption of sporting activity, in the so-called Phase 2, will take place in accordance with the regulations laid out by FIFA and UEFA, with the decisions of the FIGC as well as in compliance with the medical protocols for the protection of footballers and all professionals.”
While a May 4 return to training has been mentioned, Spadafora said a resumption of football was not necessarily on the cards.
“Right now, I can’t confirm neither the resumption of training on May 4 or the season,” he told Tg2 Post . “Sport isn’t just football or Serie A. Serie A’s an economic industry, but we’re also focusing on the football side.
“On Wednesday I’ll meet the FIGC, who will present its training protocol. We’ll evaluate it together.
“We have to understand if football’s ready to restart training. I’ll evaluate it very carefully, but it mustn’t give the illusion that resuming training means resuming the campaign.”
President of the Italian referees’ association (AIA) Marcello Nicchi says officials will return to work in their home cities, and will not travel for games across Italy until it is safe to do so.
Nicchi told Gazzetta Dello Sport : “Caution is needed, the pandemic will dictate the times. We could send direct those who live near the cities where they play.”
Defending champions Juventus were a point clear of Lazio through 26 games when the league was postponed last month.
The absent contract extension between Napoli and Dries Mertens reopens the path of a possible move to Inter, as Chelsea could opt to keep Olivier Giroud.
The two veterans have both been linked with a free transfer to the Nerazzurri, but Frenchman Giroud could slip for Antonio Conte due to a clause in the contract with Chelsea.
The Blues can unilaterally decide to extend his current deal with a year and pull the breaks on an operation between the World Cup winner and the Serie A giants.
The Gazzetta dello Sport has claimed the complications are les regarding the other ageing star, Mertens, who has yet to agree new terms at Napoli.
With Romelu Lukaku already in place and rumours about Jan Vertonghen arriving from Tottenham Hotspur, Mertens could possibly link up with his Belgium teammates at the Giuseppe Meazza.
Alexis Sanchez will most likely return to Manchester United this summer and Mertens has been targeted as the ideal replacement for the Chilean attacker, who has struggled because of injuries in his return to Serie A.
Christian Vieri has expressed his belief that “La Liga or Serie A will be excellent leagues” for Harry Kane should he decide to complete a move away from Tottenham this summer.
Kane has established himself as one of Europe’s most deadly centre-forwards since breaking into the Spurs first team back in 2014.
The 26-year-old has hit 181 goals in 278 appearances across all competitions for the club, helping them to emerge as regulars in the Premier League’s top four.
However, he is still waiting to win the first major trophy of his professional career, and has admitted that he would be open to a future transfer in order to achieve his silverware ambitions .
Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter have all been linked with Kane in recent months, with Tottenham reportedly holding out for a fee in excess of £100 million ($125m) for a prized asset.
Vieri says he would have loved to have played alongside the England frontman, who he thinks would be well suited to the Italian top-flight due to his technical ability.
The ex-Inter and Italy striker told the Daily Mail : “He is an exceptional player. I would have played well with him as a partnership. I had the Brazilian Ronaldo, Hernan Crespo, Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, [Roberto] Baggio. I loved playing with the technicians.
“Kane is not the classic English striker: physically he does not have many muscles like [Romelu] Lukaku but he has dribbling, running, precise and powerful shots. In Italy, someone like him is said to have ‘soft feet’.
“I like Kane very much because he has an unusual technique and quality, he is beautiful to look at. La Liga or Serie A will be excellent leagues for him if he decides to leave London and Tottenham.
“He has no problem playing well in very technical leagues. Kane is not a No.9 like Alan Shearer, who was an idol for me, one of the strongest English strikers in history. But Kane is equally strong.”
Kane has not played since New Year’s Day due to a hamstring injury, which he underwent surgery on back in January.
The Spurs star has since made a full recovery, but has been unable to get back onto the pitch due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has called a temporary halt to the 2019-20 season across all of Europe’s major leagues.
Juventus have decided what to do with French midfielder Adrien Rabiot, according to a report from Italian media outlet Calciomercato.com today.
The report details how the 25-year-old Frenchman, who is contracted to the Bianconeri until 2023, has struggled to settle in Italy in his first season. The player failed to earn consistent minutes at the start of the season, before finally becoming a starter in December.
However, coach Maurizio Sarri is not fully convinced by Rabiot’s performances and wants reinforcements to the department in the summer.
Rabiot is not worth selling for the Old Lady, the report continues. The player’s value has plummeted over the last two years and even selling him now wouldn’t earn back the money Juve invested in him. The club are still looking for new midfielders and Rabiot’s position will be evaluated over time, although he is not expected to play the main role next season.
Captain Alessio Romagnoli has reportedly made it clear that he wants to renew his deal with Milan and stay put at San Siro.
La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolò Schira reveals that Atletico Madrid has shown their interest in the Italian defender, but Romagnoli has decided to wait for an offer from the Diavolo.
The centre-back has been an ever-present in Serie A this season after starting all 26 League games under both Marco Giampaolo and Stefano Pioli, and the 25-year-old has played 181 games in total since he arrived from Roma in August 2015.
His performances at San Siro has not gone unnoticed and Schira claims Atletico has tested the waters in Milan, but the defender is adamant he wants to stay at the Rossoneri.
The report claims the Italy international is waiting for the club to reach out as soon as possible to renew his current deal, expiring in June 2022.
AC Milan are ready to launch a serious attempt to land Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, a report claims, which the sale of one midfielder could help.
There has been speculation from numerous outlets throughout the week suggesting that the Rossoneri are ready to make their move for Tonali, amid interest from Liverpool and Manchester United as well as Juventus and Inter.
Calciomercato.com even claimed that Milan are ready to offer one of three counterparts plus a cash sum in order to get the deal done and secure the perfect partner on paper for Ismael Bennacer.
According to what is being reported by SportMediaset (via MilanNews), if €30million from the departure of Lucas Paquetà were to arrive in the coffers, Milan would immediately hand this money over to Brescia as part of a deal for Tonali.
In addition to that they would use Alessandro Plizzari as a counterpart to try and seal the signing of the 19-year-old, while the player has given priority to Milan over Inter and Juventus.
Simon Kjaer has very clear ideas about his future: the Danish defender wants to stay at Milan, a report claims.
Kjaer arrived at Milan in January on loan from parent club Sevilla until the end of the season with an option to buy inserted after a difficult first half of the campaign with Atalanta.
MilanNews recalls the statements made by the 31-year-old over the weekend, during which he declared: “I will try to put pressure on the club to use their option of letting me stay. I am working physically and mentally only for that, because my only dream, right now, is to stay at Milan.”
These words are music to the ears of Sevilla who have no intention of standing in the way of Kjaer’s outright transfer to Milan and indeed they are pushing for that solution.
The report also cites Spanish newspaper AS in claiming that the former Fenerbahce centre-back has not been part of the plans of the Andalusian club for some time.
Head coach Pioli gave Kjaer great confidence right away and promoted him to the starting XI alongside captain Alessio Romagnoli, so the player has undergone somewhat of a rebirth with the Rossoneri and for this his only desire is to stay, but it will all depend on Milan.
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina hopes to resume training in the start of May but claimed they have been given ‘no deadlines’ to finish the current championship.
Regarding the possible return to training on May 3, the FIGC chief has revealed that FIFA and the technical and scientific committee have the final say and will only resume play when the correct conditions are in place.
“We have no deadlines; we rely on FIFA and our technical and scientific committee. First, the tests to ensure negativity and then we can resume training,” Gravina told Sky Sport Italia. “As soon as the conditions are there, we will finish the championship.
“Soon there will be a meeting, we have a procedure and soon we will announce it. We will start, I hope at the beginning of the month, with checks to ensure the negativity, followed by the training sessions.
Paris Saint-Germain made the first move, snatching two very talented guys in Xavi Simons and Kays Ruiz-Atil. Now, Barcelona are ready for revenge by signing Edouard Michut, already dubbed as the “new Verratti” in France. Slim physique and a great technical ability to play close to the defence.
The 17-year-old grew up in the academies of FC Le Chesnay and then FC Versailles, before being discovered by PSG observers at the age of 13. Michut is considered a very complete midfielder from a tactical point of view, being able to play in more than just one role.
Recently, as Calciomercato have learned, there have been scouts from Barcelona to observe the youngster, who is yet to sign a professional agreement with the French side and the current contract expires in 2021. As a result of this, he could leave for almost negligible economic compensation.
This is a situation that Manchester City, Valencia and Juventus are perfectly aware of, rivalling the Catalan side. The Bianconeri have excellent relations with PSG (not forgetting the recent talks for De Sciglio, Kurzawa, Meunier, Dybala and Pjanic) and Michut is on their wish list.
Inter forward Lautaro Martinez has made a huge donation of medical equipment and personal protective clothing to the hospitals in his hometown of Bahia Blanca.
The Argentina international went directly to the hospitals with two different sets of donations.
The first was delivered at the start of the month and a second batch arrived today, as confirmed by the Mayor of Bahia Blanca, Hector Gay.
Between the two sets, Lautaro Martinez, girlfriend Agustina Gandolfo and their families provided 4,350 litres of hand sanitiser, 1,000 pairs of rubber gloves, 6,500 coveralls, 3,800 masks and 7,000 visors.
Italy and specifically Lombardy have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but so far it is relatively at bay in Argentina.
Recibimos la segunda parte de las donaciones de Lautaro Martínez, su pareja Agustina Gandolfo y su familia, para los Hospitales Municipal y Penna. Llegaron 3500 camisolines, 1000 litros de alcohol en gel, 1000 cofias, 3800 barbijos sanitarios y guantes de látex. ¡Gracias! pic.twitter.com/KPOWNJD7mW
Milan defender Theo Hernandez has caused a row inside Real Madrid because of the way he has played since leaving, a report claims.
Hernandez joined from Real Madrid in the summer for a fee widely reported to be €20million and given that he has already scored six goals in all competitions for the Rossoneri.
According to what Calciomercato are reporting (via MilanLive), the sale of the Frenchman has now become a huge regret for Los Blancos, and controversy has broken out inside the LaLiga club.
Finding valuable full-backs is hard, and Hernandez’s valuation has already doubled from the €20million that was paid last summer.
At present, Hernandez is one of the best full-backs on the international scene, and that’s why at Real there is now a lot of tension, for the ‘negligible’ price and above all for the ease with which the club got rid of him quickly and without having a real look at his quality.
The accusation is that Zinedine Zidane is guilty of not even wanting to evaluate Theo, the report claims, while the management identified him as one of the many outgoing players to make cash. There is even part of the fanbase who ask to buy him back, but Milan will be stand firm this summer.