The 2018-19 Serie A season has come to a close, so it is now time to go position by position and rank the top five players in each role.
We start with the last line of defence, the goalkeepers.
1. Salvatore Sirigu (Torino): The 32-year old veteran shot-stopper returned to Italy in 2017 when he joined Torino on a free transfer in hopes of a revival, and he has done just that over two seasons for the Granata. Focusing on this campaign, Sirigu’s leadership, poise and ability to organize one of Serie A’s more underrated defensive units under Walter Mazzarri kept Toro in the race for top four through 35 rounds, and that must be applauded. Factor in his 15 cleansheets (2nd amongst GKs), and it is hard to argue against the former Paris Saint-Germain keeper’s first-place ranking.
2. Samir Handanovic (Inter): As one of the Nerazzzurri’s longest serving individuals on the current roster, Handanovic continued to demonstrate his excellence and importance in between the sticks this past season – evident in his heroics on decision day vs Empoli. The Slovenian’s command of his area and steadfast leadership eventually saw him receive the armband from Mauro Icardi, and he most definitely earned the privilege. With a league-best 17 cleansheets and conceding just 33 goals over 38 starts, there is a reason why the 34-year old was awarded Serie A’s Best Goalkeeper honors.
3. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan): Amidst constant pressure to live up to his lucrative contract and round out his game, ‘Gigio’ took massive strides forward in 2018/19 to further solidify his claim as one of Europe’s elite keepers. Albeit still improving his footwork and distribution, Donnarumma matured from a teenager to a 20 year old with the desire to lead and shoulder increased responsibility as a fundamental pillar to the Rossoneri project. For an imposing individual at 6ft 5in, his ability to leave his feet and reach the lower balls never ceases to impress, as well as his knack for coming up with key saves in delicate times to bail out his back line. 13 cleansheets aside, few were as crucial in net than Donnarumma who, by eclipsing 150 appearances for Milan, is already becoming a veteran before our eyes.
4. Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus): First the first time in nearly two decades, Juventus’ goal would not be guarded by the legend Gianluigi Buffon as he moved to Paris for the 2018/19 term. But despite losing her captain and leader in net, ‘the Old Lady’ was safe and secure under the command of Polish international Wojciech Szczesny. ‘Woj’ took the responsibility in stride, and was once again an elite performing goalkeeper, earning 11 cleansheets in 28 starts. Despite splitting some of the duties with Mattia Perin, the ex-Gunner man rose to the occasion and proved a worthy replacement for Buffon.
5. Alessio Cragno (Cagliari): Rounding out the top five, Cragno had become somewhat of an afterthought over the past few years with the rise of both Donnarumma and Alex Meret earning most of the plaudits for their breakthrough into the National Team setup. However, the former Brescia youth’s breakout spell for the Sardegnian outfit this season has put him on the map in Italy as a keeper ready for bigger and better things. Despite picking up just the 7 cleansheets, his league high 221 saves were largely to credit for Cagliari’s survival, and anyone would be remiss to overlook his exploits through a turbulent year.
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