Aaron Ramsey looks to continue resurgence against Roma

When Aaron Ramsey joined Juventus from Arsenal last summer, much was expected from the Welshman. The 29-year-old was brought in to address the Bianconeri’s continued midfield woes but failed to make an impact under Maurizio Sarri. This season, however, Ramsey looks rejuvenated and is ready to hit the ground running. 

Ramsey is your prototypical mezz’ala and thrives playing on the outside of a midfield three. The former Arsenal man is at his best roaming dangerously in the final third and making late, unmarked runs deep into the opposition’s territory. After arriving last summer, Ramsey struggled in Sarri’s rigid system and was largely tasked with relaying possession in predictable patterns.

It may only be one game under rookie manager Andrea Pirlo, but the former Juventus legend appears to have completely shaken things up in Turin. The Italian champions defend in a compact 4-4-2, and commit many men forward, ultimately transforming their setup into a hybrid 3-2-5 of sorts. Ramsey has been among the biggest benefactors in this setup, and looked extremely dangerous in Juventus’s season opener against Sampdoria.

Operating from the left-hand side of the midfield three, the former Arsenal man was a constant threat and wandered dangerously in support of Cristiano Ronaldo and Dejan Kulusevski. Ramsey arguably played his best football since joining the club, creating four clear-cut chances throughout. Ronaldo was not his typical lethal self in front of goal, otherwise, the former Arsenal man would have finished the game with three assists.

Beyond contributing in the final third, Ramsey’s newfound freedom ensures he’s present in Juve’s pressing schemes high up the pitch. The Welshman regularly led the Bianconeri’s press, forcing the Blucerchiati into many unnecessary turnovers. Last season, Ramsey was constrained to sitting deep on the right-hand side of the midfield three, and largely let games pass him by.

Pirlo’s footballing philosophy remains mostly unknown until this point, but one thing’s for certain: The Juventus tactician relies heavily on the mobility of his midfielders and asks them to be constantly on the move. Ramsey thrives in similar setups and played his best football at Arsenal when given the license to get forward in support of their front-line.

Ramsey was interviewed by Sky Italia this week and touched upon the recent changes under Pirlo.

“We have a new coach, a new staff, new ideas, and the players are very involved in this,” Ramsey said. “I think we have more fun than last year. The training sessions are hard but there is also a little bit of joy. We started well but we still need to improve.”

While he may be deployed in the midfield on paper, Ramsey acts as a defacto trequartista for most of the game in Pirlo’s setup. Ronaldo lingers dangerously around the 18-yard box occupying the opposition’s defense, while Kulusevski and Ramsey are largely tasked with linking it all together. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see where exactly the Welshman fits in Pirlo’s plans when the whole roster is fully fit.

“In this team, there are many great players, we call all play and help the team reach their goals. I’m happy to be able to play together with these top-quality attackers,” added the Welshman.

It may have taken him a full season to acclimate himself to his new surroundings, but Ramsey appears reborn under Pirlo. The 29-year-old is slowly carving an important role for himself in the middle of the park and will only improve as the season wears on. Pirlo’s fluid system offers his midfielders the ability to get forward, all-while contributing to the press.  The biggest question mark, however, remains Ramsey’s fitness issues. If the Welsh international manages to stay fit, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a crucial piece to Pirlo’s formation.

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Fantasy Serie A Gameweek Two Picks

Serie A returned in style last weekend and promises yet another matchday of exciting action, as Gian Piero Gasperini’s high-flying Atalanta make their highly anticipated debut on Saturday against Torino. Inter will host Fiorentina in Saturday’s final game as Antonio Conte’s men look to pick up where they left off last season and emerge as title contenders.

Elsewhere, Roma takes on Juventus on Sunday and will be hoping to get their season back on track after their surprising forfeit to Hellas Verona.

Without further ado, here are your fantasy Serie A picks ahead of gameweek two:

Gianluigi Donnarumma: The Milan shot-stopper may have conceded twice against Bodo-Glimt, but he should be a safe pick ahead of the Rossoneri’s clash against the newly-promoted Crotone. Donnarumma kicked off the season in fine form against Bologna and will be looking to continue his good start against Crotone.

Achraf Hakimi: The former Borussia Dortmund man is available for a mere 4.5 million and should hit the ground running in Inter’s season opener. Hakimi is a match made in heaven for Conte’s 3-5-2 and will be looking to replicate last season’s impressive exploits in Italy. With Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez combining dangerously, expect the Moroccan international to fit right in at Inter.

Omar Colley: Sampdoria lost their season opener in convincing fashion against Juventus, but Colley was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing performance. The Blucerchiati will be welcoming Benevento to the Luigi Ferraris and should be good value for a clean sheet.

Kalidou Koulibaly: The Senegalese international ultimately remained at Napoli amidst heavy Premier League interest and should be a crucial piece to Gennaro Gattuso’s setup moving forward. Koulibaly will be eager to thwart Genoa’s momentum after I Grifoni emerged 4-1 winners over Crotone in their season opener.

Theo Hernandez: The former Real Madrid man was in sensational form against Bologna, registering his first assist of the season. Hernandez has established himself as one of Milan’s biggest offensive threats, getting forward at will down the left-hand side. Crotone has just conceded four against Genoa and shouldn’t find it easier against the Rossoneri.

Luis Alberto: The Spanish international is coming off his best season yet in a Lazio shirt and is great value for money at 4.5 million. Luis Alberto emerged as one of the league’s elite creators last season, forming a deadly partnership with Ciro Immobile. Simone Inzaghi’s men will be eager to hit the ground running against Cagliari and expect Luis Alberto to be at the heart of it.

Aaron Ramsey: Ramsey struggled last season in Maurizio Sarri’s rigid 4-3-3, but looked reborn in Andrea Pirlo’s fluid system. The Welshman only registered one assist against Sampdoria, but had it not been for his teammates’ profligacy in front of goal, it could have been two or three. Expect Ramsey to continue his fine form against Roma.

Hakan Calhanoglu: The Turkish international has been at the heart of Milan’s resurgence under Stefano Pioli, carving out an important role for himself as the Rossoneri’s trequartista. Calhanoglu has combined his incredible vision with a keen eye for goal and has since become Milan’s difference-maker in the final third. The 26-year-old is coming off yet another influential performance and should continue his impressive run against Crotone.

Domenico Berardi: The Sassuolo winger got off to a disappointing start to the season against Cagliari, but should put his goalscoring woes behind him against Spezia. The Neroverdi’s dynamic front three has proven too much to handle for most of Italy’s backlines in the past and should have what it takes to claim an important three points against the newly-promoted outfit.

Ciro Immobile: Last season’s capocannoniere will be eager to repeat the feat once more, starting with Lazio’s opener against Cagliari. Immobile has proven to be a consistent goalscorer in league play in recent years and is always good value to find the back of the net. Alessio Cragno is one of Serie A’s best shot-stoppers, but Immobile and co. possess enough firepower to get the job done.

Victor Osimhen: The Nigerian international changed the complexion of his game shortly after his introduction and should feature from the start against Genoa. Osimhen will be raring to go after an impressive debut and should open his account for the season against I Grifoni.

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Why a return to a back three makes sense for Juventus

Juventus took the controversial decision to sack Maurizio Sarri and replace him with the relatively unproven Andrea Pirlo this past summer, after a disappointing season. The Bianconeri may have retained their Scudetto, but ultimately fell short against Lyon in the Round of 16 of the Champions League.

Sarri was a firm believer in his preferred 4-3-3 and rarely budged from his playing philosophy, despite his side’s lackluster play. While not much is known about Pirlo’s coaching style or formation, all signs are pointing to some form of a return to a back three. Media outlets have speculated that Pirlo will deploy a back three in possession, which will later transform into a back four when they lose the ball.

As of right now, this is Juve’s reported XI going into their season opener against Sampdoria:

Szczęsny; Danilo, Bonucci, Chiellini; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Arthur, Rabiot, Pellegrini; Kulusevski, Ronaldo.

In theory, Pellegrini would drop at left back when Juventus lose the ball, with the remaining midfielders forming a bank of four ahead of their backline. Matthijs de Ligt’s return would hand the Bianconeri a huge boost, as well, while Merih Demiral will slowly be eased into action following his injury.

The back three ensures Pirlo gets the most out of Bonucci and Chiellini, who have thrived in this system before while giving de Ligt and Demiral the license to get forward in possession. Danilo struggled last season, but could benefit from a deeper role, as the Brazilian will no longer be tasked with contributing offensively.

Beyond the back three, this formation offers a crafty solution to Juve’s fullback conundrum. The Italian champions simply do not have the quality out wide to compete with Europe’s elite, but the 3-5-2 helps remedy this. Cuadrado has typically excelled in this position, while Luca Pellegrini will be raring to go on Sunday. The former Cagliari man will be looking to make the most of Alex Sandro’s recent setback and cement himself as Juve’s starting leftback. Pellegrini has demonstrated he can get forward with ease and with Chiellini behind him, he will have all the guidance he needs in his defensive third.

Federico Bernardeschi and Alex Sandro are two players who will be hoping to get their careers back on track after mediocre seasons and the 3-5-2 could just revitalize the duo. The former has experience in this setup during his time at Fiorentina, while Sandro was at his very best as a wingback under Conte.

The midfield is where it gets interesting for Pirlo. As of right now, Rodrigo Bentancur, Arthur, and Adrien Rabiot are his preferred trio, but Juve’s latest signing Weston McKennie is worth monitoring. Arthur will reportedly start as the side’s regista after convincing Pirlo in training and will largely be tasked with dictating play. Rabiot, on the other hand, finished the season in exceptional form and will be eager to hit the ground running once more.

The biggest question mark, however, remains Bentancur. The Uruguayan international has played his best football at the base of the midfield, but Arthur is currently the preferred man there. As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see Pirlo juggle the two and potentially introduce McKennie into the fold for one of them.

Up front, Ronaldo and Dybala enter the season at the preferred duo, but the latter’s latest injury will hand Dejan Kulusevski a chance to stake a claim for a spot in the eleven. The Swedish international has emerged as one of the league’s brightest young talents and could force Pirlo’s hand with a strong start. As Kulusevski gains familiarity in his system, the rookie tactician may just be forced to deploy a three-man attack to accommodate him alongside Dybala and Ronaldo.

Given his propensity to work hard without the ball, a 3-4-3 with Kulusevski tracking back, similar to Gian Piero Gasperini’s system, is not entirely out of the question. Edin Dzeko’s reported move to Juve will also prove crucial, as the Bosnian international offers a much-needed physical and creative presence in the final third.

If last season showed us anything, it’s that tactical rigidity got Juve nowhere. The Bianconeri played mediocre football and struggled to create chances. Pirlo’s appointment is by no means a sure thing, but at the very least, the rookie tactician is ready to experiment, starting with their opener against Sampdoria.

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Three Bold Predictions Ahead of the New Season

The new Serie A season is officially upon us and is shaping up for another enthralling year of action. Juventus appear to be in a transtion year, but has bolstered their roster significantly already while Inter will be hoping to pip their rivals to the Scudetto after falling short last season.

Milan enters the new year confident as ever, having just secured two impressive young talents in Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz and will be hoping to return to the Champions League. The capital-based clubs,  Roma and Lazio, will duke it out once more and will be right there with Milan in the race for top four. The biggest question mark going into the new season remains Atalanta and whether they can replicate last season’s impressive exploits.

Without further ado, here are three bold predictions going into the new season:

Sassuolo to qualify for the Europa League: 

Roberto De Zerbi’s men finished last season on a high note and nearly cracked Italy’s top seven. Sassuolo has managed to keep its stars this offseason, notably Domenico Berardi and Jeremie Boga, and possess one of the league’s most underrated number nines in Ciccio’ Caputo. The Neroverdi also rebuffed Juve’s advances for Manuel Locatelli and will be going into the new season hoping their midfield dynamo can supply their high-powered front three.

De Zerbi has demonstrated he can get the most of Sassuolo’s roster and will be hoping to guide them into contention for the Europa League. The competition will be stiff considering Milan, Roma, Napoli, Lazio, and arguably Fiorentina will all be in the mix depending on their respective seasons, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say Sassuolo will qualify for the Europa League.

A Coppa Italia triumph counts!

Victor Osimhen as capocannoniere: 

Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo pushed each other to new heights in last season’s capocannoniere race but will have more company this time around. Napoli’s record signing Victor Osimhen is ready to take the next step in his career and lead the Partenopei’s line to devastating effect. The Nigerian international broke onto the scene last season with 17 goals in all competitions and will slot in seamlessly in Napoli’s dynamic frontline.

Immobile and Ronaldo relied heavily on penalties to inflate their scoring records last season, and one of them will likely slow down as a result. Osimhen is an outside bet for leading goalscorer, but given his skillset and Napoli’s counterattacking style, the former Lille man will have many scoring opportunities. Romelu Lukaku is another striker worth monitoring in this race but is a far safer bet in this respect.

Achraf Hakimi and Edin Dzeko to be tied for assists: 

Hakimi’s signing is one that takes Inter to the next level, as the Morrocan international will provide quality and a deadly final ball from a wingback position. Last season, the former Dortmund man registered an impressive ten assists and will look to translate his efforts in Conte’s 3-5-2.

Dzeko, on the other hand, is more known for his ability to find the back of the net, but evolved his game and has since emerged as an elite creator as well. The Bosnian international finished last season with 11 assists, indicating his playmaking threat. Dzeko is reportedly nearing a move to Juventus and will slot in wonderfully alongside Ronaldo, Dybala, and Dejan Kulusevski.

Both Dzeko and Hakimi will be eager to replicate last season’s output and should be in a good position to do so. They may not top Luis Alberto or Papu Gomez’s tallies, but they will definitely be up there with Serie A’s deadliest creators.

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Edin Dzeko represents best fit for Juventus

Juventus has been linked with a move for a new number nine all summer and is reportedly closing in on Roma’s Edin Dzeko. The Italian champions have previously been linked with Luis Suarez and Olivier Giroud, but the Bosnian international has since emerged as the favorite. His arrival will see Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik make the move to Roma, with Dzeko signing with Juve.

The Bianconeri may have been linked with a number of strikers over the past summer, but Dzeko is arguably the best fit for Andrea Pirlo. Juventus has lacked a dominant number nine, capable of imposing himself in the final third and struggled with Gonzalo Higuain spearheading the attack. Cristiano Ronaldo thrived with Mario Mandzukic alongside him in his first season and will be hoping to strike a similar partnership with Dzeko. His 16 million euro price-tag may be a lot for a player on the wrong side of thirty, but the striker still has a lot left to give.

The Roma man offers a towering penalty box presence, much like Mandzukic, but is equally capable of creating chances himself. Last season, Dzeko registered 16 goals and added an impressive 11 assists, highlighting his well-rounded nature. In this sense, he’s unlike any striker Juve have had in recent years.

While Pirlo’s preferred formation remains unclear, Dzeko has all the qualities to complement the likes of Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, and Dejan Kulusevski. Whether the rookie tactician deploys a 3-5-2 and fields Dzeko in a two-striker setup, or tasks the Bosnian with leading the line himself, the Roma man will slot in seamlessly.

In many ways, Dzeko represents the best stop-gap option for Juve, given the current options. The Roma hitman will reportedly join on a two-year deal worth 7.5 million euros per season. His salary may be hefty, but given the short-term nature of the contract, Dzeko won’t hold up too much of Juve’s wage bill.

Suarez, by contrast, was reportedly ready to ink a three-year contract worth 10 million euros per season. The Barcelona striker is a proven goalscorer but investing 30 million euros in Suarez would be incredibly short-sighted. Juventus has struggled to rid themselves of their deadwood in recent times and has found it difficult to part ways with their declining players. Had it not been for Inter Miami, the Bianconeri essentially had no suitors for Higuain and would have struggled to move him on, beyond a potential buyout.

Dzeko, on the other hand,  has another year of quality football in his legs if last season was anything to go by, and could play a subdued role in the final year of his deal. In addition, Dzeko’s skill-set is constantly evolving and has since established himself as one of the league’s best creators in the final third. Even if the goals begin to dry up next year, Dzeko can still contribute significantly in the final third. Juventus lacked a creative outlet at times last season, relying heavily on Dybala to get things going.

The Argentine international dropped deep into midfield regularly, leaving a gap up front. As a result, opposition defenses focused much of their attention on Ronaldo and stifled the Bianconeri easily with a deep block. Dzeko will not only provide an impressive passing range but will also attract attention from the opposing center-backs, giving Dybala and Ronaldo to license to roam dangerously.

Dejan Kulusevski is another player worth monitoring in this respect and will thrive with Dzeko as his target. The former Parma man excelled last season with Gli Crociati and will be looking to take the next step this season with Juve. Dzeko’s arrival rounds off Juventus’s offensive acquisitions for this summer and offers Pirlo yet another weapon to shake things up in the final third. Last season, the Bianconeri fell short at crucial moments and looked toothless in the return leg against Lyon. Dzeko’s signing may come as a surprise, but make no mistake about it: Of all the reported options, the Roma man is the best fit.

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Dejan Kulusevski ready to hit the ground running at Juventus

Juventus has been linked with a plethora of attacking players in recent times as the new season approaches. Andrea Pirlo has reportedly put a new number nine on top of his transfer list, indicating he’s eager to shake up the Bianconeri’s stuttering frontline. The Italian champions relied heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala in the final third, with the duo combining for over 50 per cent of Juve’s goals in all competitions last season. While their pursuit of a striker rages on, it is a January signing that will arguably have the biggest impact.

When Juve splashed 35 million euros on Dejan Kulusevski this winter, many were left wondering who exactly the 20-year-old is. After all, he had only six months of regular first-team football under his belt with Parma and despite his impressive performances, Kulusevski was relatively unproven.

The Swedish international has now joined Juventus officially and will slot in wonderfully in Pirlo’s new-look front three. Kulusevski established himself as a creative force while on loan at Parma, breaking onto the scene as one of the league’s deadliest counter-attacking threats. The former Parma man initially came through Atalanta’s youth ranks as a creative midfielder and largely featured as a trequartista.

Due to his incredible turn of pace, however, Roberto D’Aversa deployed him on the right-wing. Kulusevski slotted in seamless from a wide position and regularly drifted in centrally, in a free-roam role. At Juventus, the 20-year-old will arguably occupy a similar role and will have ample opportunities to make the right-winger role his own. Douglas Costa has struggled with injuries since joining from Bayern Munich and has simply not looked like a good fit with Ronaldo and Dybala. Bernardeschi, by contrast, failed to make an impact when called upon and will mostly act as attacking depth.

Kulusevski’s vision and wide range of passing will ensure he fits right in alongside Juve’s high-powered front three in a complementary position. The former Parma man is unselfish out of possession and has proven to be a willing runner, as well and will need to bring those qualities to the fore next season. While not much is known about Pirlo’s coaching philosophy, the rookie tactician indicated he wants his side to win the ball back as quickly as possible and press the opposition high. In this sense, Kulusevski is an ideal fit up front and could offer some much-needed defensive cover to Cuadrado when needed.

Another aspect working in Kulusevski’s favour is his impressive versatility. Beyond playing on the wing, the Swedish international has already played significant minutes in middle of the park, be it as a mezz’ala or as a trequartista. Juventus has had issues in the midfield for the better part of three years now and could deploy him on the outside of a midfield three. Given Juventus will be competing on many fronts, Kulusevski may feature in various positions depending on what Pirlo is looking for.

While there are more questions than answers going into the new season for Juve, Kulusevski is one of the few certainties. The former Parma man has demonstrated he’s more than a simple flash in the pan and will be eager to translate that form to a big club. In many ways, Kulusevski will be hoping to follow Dybala’s career path rather than Bernadeschi’s and emerge as a key man for Pirlo. Given the ongoing pandemic and the shortened transfer window, Kulusevski’s signing has fallen off the radar, but make no mistake about it: The 20-year-old is more than ready to hit the ground running in Turin and has all the tools to establish himself as Juve’s X factor in the final third.

Beyond his

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Three fixtures to watch in match-day one

The new Serie A season is just around the corner with kickoff set for September 19. As is the case every season, the new year presents plenty of intriguing storylines and players to watch out for. Rookie boss Andrea Pirlo is making his managerial debut with Juventus while Inter will be hoping to displace their fierce rivals atop Italian football for the first time in ten years.

Stefano Pioli’s Milan head into the new season confident as ever and will be eager to return to the Champions League after a strong finish. Napoli is another side worth monitoring after a strong summer and could emerge as dark horses for the Scudetto. The capital-based clubs, Roma and Lazio, by contrast, will be hoping to push for top four once more but will need a strong start.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at match-day one and break down the interesting matchups:

Fiorentina-Torino (September 19) 

Fiorentina will be eager to turn the page on last season’s disappointment and spring a surprise this year. La Viola has an impressive core of young talents and will be hoping they can take the next step in their careers. Bartłomiej Dragowski is as reliable as they come between the posts while the imposing Nikola Milenkovic should be able to lead the backline in front of him.

Fiorentina boasts a plethora of talent in the middle of the park, including the likes of Gaetano Castrovilli, Alfred Duncan, and Erick Pulgar. With Chiesa, Vlahovic, and Kouame ahead of them, Beppe Iachini’s men can compete toe-to-toe with just about anyone in the peninsula. Consistency was an issue last season for Fiorentina, but they have enough talent to make a push for European football.

Torino, by contrast, is a side in transition under Marco Giampaolo after a disappointing finish to last season. It will be interesting to see the former Milan tactician back in his comfort zone and lead I Granata back into the upper half of the table.

Juventus-Sampdoria (September 20) 

Andrea Pirlo’s first game in charge will be worth a watch for a number of reasons. For one, not much is known about the former midfielder’s preferred setup as well as his coaching philosophy. His managerial debut against Sampdoria will give the Juventus faithful an early glimpse into what’s in store for them this season.

Beyond Pirlo’s debut, this game will be an early opportunity for Juventus to signal their intentions. The Bianconeri are currently a side in transition, but they will be eager to retain their crown regardless.

Milan-Bologna (September 21)

Milan closed off last season in impressive fashion and will be hoping to translate that form into the new year. Stefano Pioli’s men have had an impressive transfer window so far, adding Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz, and will be heading into the new year with high hopes. Bologna is a tricky opponent and possesses enough quality to hurt any opposition in Italy, making this clash must-watch calcio.

Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men will be hoping to break into the top seven this year and could just do that with a bit of luck.

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Lazio adding impressive depth ahead of Champions League return

Lazio surprised the masses last season with an unlikely title push, but ultimately fell short when it mattered, sliding down to fourth place. In many ways, the Biancocelesti’s lack of depth hurt the side after the restart. Simone Inzaghi’s men played some of the best football in Italy when playing once a week, but will need to adapt quickly as their return to the Champions League approaches.

The capital-based club has wasted no time bolstering their ranks and addressing their needs. Vedat Muriqi has arrived from Fenerbahçe S.K and will offer some crucial depth up front. Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa start the season as Inzaghi’s undisputed starters but will benefit from sitting out some games. Felipe Caicedo impressed early on in the year but tailed off towards the tail end of the season while Bobby Adekanye is still young for a bigger role.

At 26 years old, Muriqi offers experienced depth and is a proven goalscorer. The Kosovo international netted 15 goals and 6 assists last season in Super Lig action, indicating he is deadly in front of goal. Beyond his impressive goalscoring repertoire, Muriqi has demonstrated he can play in a two-striker setup and could form a dangerous partnership with either Immobile or Correa. It may have taken Lazio some time to get this deal over the line, but Muriqi’s arrival is a big one.

Other than Muriqi, Lazio has also signed Mohamed Fares from the relegated SPAL. Last season, Jony started most of the Biancocelesti’s games from left wingback and faced no competition from Jordan Lukaku. Fares’s arrival creates competition for the starting role, all-while offering Inzaghi depth off the bench. Fares is an experienced Serie A player and comes at a relatively low price.

SPAL may have disappointed last season, but Fares was regularly a bright spot for the Ferrara-based club and was a constant menace down the left-hand side. As the new season approaches, expect Fares to start off the bench and slowly stake a claim for the starting spot. His signing is yet another one that may go under the radar but could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer.

Gonzalo Escalante has also been added from Eibar and has looked decent in the midfield in the early goings of preseason. A more pressing need for Inzaghi’s men, however, is at centreback. The Biancocelesti have previously been linked with Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla and are reportedly monitoring Torino’s Armando Izzo. 

According to recent reports, Izzo does not fit into Marco Giampaolo’s plans next season, as the former Sampdoria tactician looks to transition I Granata to a back four. In this sense, Izzo would be an ideal signing for Inzaghi’s men and much like Fares, has plenty of Serie A experience in a similar system.

Kumbulla is another player who impressed in a back three this season but may be unrealistic given his price-tag. Inter has recently pulled out of the race for the defender, giving Lazio the opportunity to swoop in. As the new season approaches, Inzaghi will be eager to add another center-back to his side, with Izzo or Kumbulla both representing great options.

It would appear the Biancocelesti are gearing up to compete on all three fronts going into next season, adding impressive depth across the board. With the new season kicking off in just ten days, it remains to be seen if Lazio will add another centre-back, despite the recent links. Inzaghi’s men may not contend for the Scudetto this season, but if last season was anything to go by, underestimate them at your own risk. Lazio has bolstered their roster and will be raring to go upon their Champions League return.

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Juventus’ Top Three Mercato Priorities

With the season just ten days away, Juventus are scrambling to rejuvenate their roster and offer rookie manager Andrea Pirlo significant reinforcements. As the season approaches, Fabio Paratici will be eager to conclude all his mercato business sooner rather than later, starting with the hunt for a new number nine.

Let’s take a deeper look at Juventus’ mercato priorities going into the new season:

1) Sell the deadwood. 

The common theme this transfer window for almost any Italian team has been ‘buy before you sell’. Weston McKennie arrived from Schalke for virtually nothing, while Arthur was swapped for Miralem Pjanic. This indicates that Juventus’s transfer kitty is limited this year unless they can move on unwanted players.

Blaise Matuidi has already joined Inter Miami while Gonzalo Higuain will soon follow, according to reports. Sami Khedira is another player Juventus are eager to part ways with, but the German international is determined to prove his worth to Pirlo. Beyond the former Real Madrid man, Paratici has been unable to move on Douglas Costa, who has spent the better part of the last two seasons sidelined with injuries. Aaron Ramsey is yet another Juventus man whose future is worth monitoring, after failing to make an impact last season despite high wages.

Before the Juventus faithful can dream of a big signing, these are exactly the types of players they need to move on. It won’t be easy and the clock is ticking for Paratici.

2) A new number nine

Juventus parted ways with both Mario Mandzukic and Moise Kean last summer and have failed to replace either ever since. With Higuain declining and on his way to Major League Soccer, Pirlo requested a new number nine for his setup. Edin Dzeko and Luis Suarez are the two most recent strikers linked with a move to Turin, with the Uruguayan emerging as the favorite.

Juventus will reportedly pay Barcelona three million euros with potential bonuses rising to 16 million euros, and will offer Suarez a three-year deal. The entire operation will reach around 45 million euros between wages and transfer fees if recent reports are credible. While Juventus need a number nine and Suarez fits the bill, this is a move that reeks of desperation and resembles the Bianconeri’s past mishaps on the transfer window.

There is currently a dearth of quality number nines available, making Suarez one of Juve’s only realistic options. Paratici’s hands may be tied, but he may regret this move a year or two down the line.

3) One surprise signing? 

After securing a number nine, Juventus could use another profile, be it at fullback or in the midfield. Reinforcing at fullback seems to be down Paratici’s list of priorities, but Real Madrid’s Sergio Reguilon could be an interesting opportunity. The Spanish giants have made it clear he’s available and he could be available at a decent price. Reguilon’s arrival could make Alex Sandro expendable, freeing up some much-needed transfer budget.

Beyond their fullback needs, Juventus could arguably use another creative midfielder. The likes of Rodrigo De Paul and Luis Alberto have been previously linked with a move to Turin, indicating a move for a midfield maestro may be on the cards. In this sense, Lyon’s Houssem Aouar should be a priority and is reportedly available at a decent price. If Juventus can broker a deal for the French international, it would go a long way at addressing their lack of dynamism and creativity in the middle of the park.

However, let’s be clear – any surprise move is completely contingent on selling their deadwood, something Paratici has struggled with since assuming his position.

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Inter gearing up for yet another Scudetto challenge

When Inter appointed Antonio Conte last summer, it was understood the Nerazzurri would immediately contend for Italy’s top prize. The former Juventus boss has quickly led his sides to glory upon his arrival, guiding the Bianconeri and Chelsea to league titles in his first season with the respective clubs. While last season did not go as planned – with Inter ultimately disappointing when it mattered – the Nerazzurri are gearing up for next season and are already significantly bolstering their ranks.

Giuseppe Marotta has done an exceptional job as Inter’s sporting director since arriving, revolutionizing their midfield with the signings of Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi and most recently Christian Eriksen. Inter’s big-money move for Romelu Lukaku also panned out, with the Belgian international netting 35 goals in all competitions last season and combined wonderfully with Lautaro Martinez. The former Manchester United man may have disappointed in the Europa League final, but definitely emerged as one of Serie A’s most prolific hitmen.

The next step for Marotta is to continue adding players that fit Conte’s image, to ensure the fiery tactician has everything he needs to usurp Juventus atop Italian football. Former Borussia Dortmund wingback Achraf Hakimi has already arrived this summer and is a prototypical Conte player. Capable of playing on either wing, the Moroccan international is ideal for Conte’s 3-5-2 and will offer some much-needed quality and end product in the final third.

Inter also recently secured Roma’s Aleksandr Kolarov for 1.5 million euros, who will likely slot in as a left center-back in their back three. The Serbian has lost his turn of pace in recent seasons but represents solid depth for the emerging Alessandro Bastoni. His best days may be behind him, but Kolarov is a low-cost signing that comes in with plenty of experience and tactical know-how.

Beyond Kolarov, Inter is reportedly interested in Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla. The defender broke onto the scene this season with the newly-promoted outfit and established himself as one of Serie A’s most intriguing young prospects. With Diego Godin on the wrong side of 30 and with Milan Skriniar’s future in doubt, Kumbulla is an ideal option to rejuvenate their backline and offer Conte the possibility to rotate.

Sandro Tonali was reportedly on his way to Inter, as well this summer, but has since dropped down their list of priorities. Milan has inserted themselves in the race for the midfield maestro and has since become favourites for the Brescia midfielder’s signature. Should Inter pull off a move for Tonali, however, they will undoubtedly have the deepest midfield ranks in the league and sufficient quality to overtake Juventus.

The summer window may not have officially opened just yet, but Inter has sent a clear message of intent to the rest of Italy. Fresh off finishing just one point behind Juve and failing at the final hurdle in the Europa League, Conte’s men are eager to retool and mount yet another title challenge. Juventus are currently in a period of transition under rookie manager Andrea Pirlo, something Inter will be hoping to take advantage of next season. As the summer wears on, expect Inter to be active in hopes of winning their first Scudetto in ten years.

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