Serie A’s Blue & Red Chip Players

Now that the transfer window is (FINALLY) over, we can fully assess the squads for the top Serie A teams. When ranking teams and breaking down their player personnel, I always use a method that NFL general manager Mike Lombardi employed both as an executive and analyst: name the blue and red chip players.

A blue chip player is a true difference maker, an elite player at his position who could start regularly for a title contender. A red chip player on the hand is someone who could be a significant contributor on a team that is competing for a Champions League spot. While putting together this year’s version of this column, I once again avoid putting players new to Serie A in the blue chip category because we don’t know how they will adapt to a new league.

 

So without further due, let’s take a look at how many blue chip and red chip players each top Serie A team has:

 

Juventus 

 

Blue Chip: Szczesny, Chiellini, Ronaldo, Douglas Costa 

Red Chip: De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro, Pjanic, Khedira, Ramsey, Rabiot, Dybala, Bernardeschi, Matuidi, Mandzukic, Can, Higuain, Buffon

The bianconeri are so deep that their main backups would likely contend for a Champions League spot if they had their own team so it’s not surprising to see a long list of blue chip players which could have also easily featured also Cuadrado and  Demiral. 

Douglas Costa’s speed and dribbling ability make him “fuori categoria” in Serie A (a player that is so unique there’s hardly any comparison in the league). Szczesny has been so good since arriving in Italy that those familiar with Serie A never thought for a second that Buffon was returning to Juventus to be the starter, while Ronaldo and Chiellini are still elite players at their positions despite their age. 

Last year many would have had Pjanic as a blue chip player (not me though), but his value is diminished since he doesn’t take as many free kicks with Ronaldo on the squad. Dybala went from being arguably the most valuable player on the transfer market in all of Serie A to someone who has to compete with Higuain for playing time while Khedira is a blue chip player in the eyes of pretty much any manager he ever had.

 

 

 

Napoli

 

Blue Chip: Koulibaly, Allan, Fabian Ruiz, Callejon

Red Chip: Mertens, Meret, Manolas, Zielinski, MIlik, Insigne, Lozano

Aside from Ronaldo, it’s hard to argue against Fabian Ruiz being the best player who joined Serie A from abroad last season. Napoli were able to hold on to Koulibaly and Allan who just like Fabian Ruiz could be starters on Juventus, while Callejon continues to reinvent himself and add to his game- Ancelotti has already used him a central midfielder during summer friendlies.

Aside from Dino Zoff, you can make a case that Meret has everything needed to be Napoli’s best keeper ever, while Manolas is a more than adequate replacement for Albiol. Milik is coming off a season in which he scored 18 goals in Serie A with no penalties, while Lozano looks like the perfect jolly for Ancelotti to use in different ways to compliment his front line. 

In order for the partenopei to truly contend with Juventus, they’ll need two out of Ghoulam (who was a red chip player before his injury), Malcuit and Di Lorenzo to exceed expectations this season.

 

Inter

 

Blue Chip: Handanovic, Skriniar, De Vrij, Brozovic

Red Chip: Lukaku, Godin, Barella, Sensi, Lautaro Martinez, Politano

Clearly Inter have a blue chip manager who will make players like Candreva look like red chip players most of the time, but let’s try not to be influenced too much by Conte. Inter have been able to won their first two games with Ranocchia and D’Ambrosio starting, but they’ll be even better with De Vrij- a Bosman signing who should get more praise as an incredible addition- and Godin are also starting (he was the one new addition from abroad I wanted to make a blue chip right away).

Brozovic was the nerazzurri’s most important player last season- when he performed well, they almost always won. He’ll now be joined by Sensi and Barella in a midfield with a lot of quality but very little size. Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez are difference makers on their own, but also look to be a duo that compliments each other rather well. Conte insisted on holding on to Politano and he could be quite valuable as both a wing back and a second striker.

 

Milan

 

Blue Chip: Romagnoli, Donnarumma 

Red Chip: Paqueta, Piatek, Bennacer, Suso, Bonaventura 

Say what you will about Galliani but on his watch Milan acquired Romagnoli and launched Donnarumma, two elite players at their respective positions. Since then Fassone, Leonardo and now Massara/Maldini/Boban have acquired young players who have the potential to become blue chippers- especially Paqueta, Piatek and Bennacer. The good news is that new manager Marco Giampaolo has a great track record of taking players to the next level, but doing so at Milan is a bit more complicated than at Sampdoria where there is much more built in patience.

 

Roma

 

Blue Chip: Dzeko

Red Chip: Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Kolarov, Mkhitaryan, Florenzi, Pau Lopez

 

None of the teams mentioned so far lost as many quality players as the giallorossi with Manolas, De Rossi and El Shaarawy departing. Considering he’s coming off a season in which he scored nine goals, it’s probably generous to put Dzeko as a blue chipper, especially when you consider his age, but he does impact matches in many different ways. On the bright side for Roma, Zaniolo has a everything needed to become a top player and while I didn’t list Diawara and Veretout, they have the characteristics to be quite functional in Fonseca’s system plus Pau Lopez already looks like a massive upgrade to Olsen. 

 

Atalanta

 

Blue Chip: Papu Gomez

Red Chip: Freuler, Toloi, Ilicic, Zapata, Muriel, Castagne 

 

In many ways, Gasperini is a poor man’s version of Conte- not just because of the formation they use, but also because of their ability to make average players look like difference makers. Ilicic and Zapata had career seasons at Atalanta last season and it’s very likely Muriel will follow their path. Freuler is one of the most underrated midfielders in Serie A, he’s the player many think Diawara is to this day. Look for Castagne to take a leap this season and it will be interesting to see how the defense adapts to Mancini’s departure- if Kjaer or Palomino perform like red chippers then Atalanta can once again compete for a Champions League spot. 

Lazio

 

Blue Chip: Milinkovic Savic, Acerbi, Lucas Leiva

Red Chip: Immobile, Luis Alberto, Lazzari, Correa

I’ve been known for overrating the biancocelesti, but they have a more impressive core of players than Roma and Milan in my honest opinion. Acerbi made everyone forget how good De Vrij was at Lazio, Milinkovic Savic was able to win award for best midfielder in Serie A In objectively a down season while Immobile already has 3 seasons with 20+ goals in Italy. Lazzari was already devasting at SPAL but now has so much more talent in a system he knows like the back of his hand while Correa can build on his outstanding second half of last season.

 

Miscellaneous teams

 

Blue Chip: Quagliarella, Sirigu

Red Chip: Belotti, Chiesa, Izzo, Nkolou, Cragno, Pavoletti, Pezzela, Milenkovic, Gervinho, Schone   

 

Fantasy Serie A Game: How to Play!

Hello Everyone!

Greg with EuroFantasyLeague.com and one of the biggest fans of Calcio and Fantasy Calcio games. With the Serie A season fast approaching, we wanted to present you with a summary of how to play the game! The video below will show you how to register, how to join some leagues and most importantly how to build your team.

➡️https://youtu.be/b6OHB-7auCY

The video will also show you how to purchase in-game enhancements with the use of coins! Note: As a result of management’s thorough analysis of the game’s features and the decision to make it even more interactive combined with feedback from several of our loyal members, the cost per item of most features have been dramatically reduced. Thus, in-game enhancements have never been as easily accessible for everyone but we’ll let you see that for yourselves! If you have any additional questions, message us on Twitter @FantaCalcioGame or in the comments section below.

Follow this link to register➡️ https://www.fantasyseriea.com/register/

RULES: https://fantasyseriea.com/rules-of-the-game

Enjoy the most popular Fantasy Calcio Game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higuain & Chelsea, between public quotes and body language

higuaincaldara

 

For someone who strongly believes you shouldn’t put any stock on what is said publicly about transfers, I have caught myself engaging in some odd behaviors following some recent quotes coming from Milan’s sporting director and coach. Typically when persons in their positions, in addition to players and agents, are asked about transfer rumors, they resort to maintaining the status quo like “player X is staying’, or “I’m just focused on the season and I’m committed to my team” etc.

But  after Leonardo spoke at Milanello earlier this week and said the following about Gonzalo Higuain “He has to make a decision and take his share of the responsibility. Not this continual “yes, no, I’m not sure” followed by “He had a tough moment, he has to put it behind him and get to work. There’s no point following rumours and gossip. He is right here right now. Seeing as he is here, he needs to get down and actually do something for this team” I found myself rewatching some recent Milan matches to analyze Higuain’s body language the way historians break down the video of JFK getting shot.

Sarri

While there had been a lot of rumors linking Gonzalo Higuain’s to Chelsea where he would be reunited with Maurizio Sarri, not only a father figure to the Argentine striker but also the manager who get the most out of him, his celebration after scoring against SPAL gave me pause.

In addition to all the hurdles for this deal to happen (Juventus owning his rights, Milan investing 18 million just to have him on loan this season and needing an adequate replacement to get to the Champions League in addition to their own FFP issue which would make it hard to find a suitable replacement, not to mention Chelsea’s reluctance to invest substantially in players over 30) Higuain celebrating in that fashion which I dubbed the “blue ball” release because he seemed to have unloaded all of his frustration after finally ending his scoring draught, somewhat convinced it was inevitable he would finish the season at Milan.

gattuso-bonaventura-web

But then came Rino Gattuso’s quotes on Saturday after the win in the Coppa Italia against Sampdoria “Higuain? When a player makes certain choices then it becomes hard to convince him. But one can try. At this moment, he’s a Milan player, we’ll hold on to him tightly and I don’t know what will happen” which were rather shocking, especially since Milan has a big game coming up against Juventus for the Italian Super Cup. But while we can certainly accuse Gattuso of being limited tactically, we have to all admire how transparent he is what he says.

Those who follow Serie A closely remember what Gattuso had said about Leonardo Bonucci last summer, the statements after the Sampdoria match were eerily similar. As a result last night I found myself analyzing a picture Jose Mauri posted on Instagram featuring numerous Milan players, including Higuain, on the plane to Doha as if I was trying to decipher the meaning of a scene in a David Lynch.

Now other than realizing that Diego Laxalt will be able to start a successful Offsprings cover band if the whole football thing doesn’t work out, I couldn’t draw too many conclusions but it still made me think further about Higuain’s situation. While there are many hurdles to making a deal to Chelsea happen, especially during the January transfer window, where there’s a will there’s typically a way. 

cutrone

On top of Gattuso’s quotes after the match against Sampdoria, there was another important development in that match- home grown striker Patrick Cutrone scored a brace off the bench to help Milan pass the round. Could Milan decide they don’t need a big and expensive name to come in prior to agreeing to let Higuain leave? Would a complimentary piece be enough or do the rossoneri just see Cutrone as a super sub? If so, can Leonardo channel the spirit of his mentor Adriano Gallaini and convince Genoa to give them Piatek in January on a deal that doesn’t impact their FFP?

alvaro morata chelsea

Do recent games give Chelsea even more urgency to bring in an upgrade over Alvaro Morata, a player who coincidentally Milan appear to even less intrigued by compared to a few weeks ago? If so the key would be to find a deal that works for Juventus- the current Serie A champions were hoping Higuain would play well enough for Milan so that they would redeem his rights next season- would Chelsea be willing to do so by banking on fact Sarri can get Higuain going? Or could the clubs structure a deal similar to the Juan Cuadrado multi year loan deal to avoid a loss on the amortized value? These are all the questions that quotes and body language brought to my mind.

 

Juventus Top Performers – Round 17

Juventus withstood Roma’s second half push and came away with yet another win mostly built thanks to a dominant first half, even though they were unable to seal the game.

Mattia De Sciglio (7 points): his growth has been visible, not only compared to his last days at Milan, when he looked lost, but also from last year. A real resurgence. At times in his two seasons at the club he was handpicked in some matches because he was a more defensive option than the alternatives, which is surely true, but, with Joao Cancelo out and the starting job on lockdown for the next few games, his confidence is skyrocketing and it shows when he attacks. In this one, he capped his recent satisfactory run with a majestic lefty cross for Mario Mandzukic, where he really looked like his Portuguese teammate. Continue reading

Mendes & Nara tidbits and Nedved & Marotta make up

Several personalities took part to the Golden Boy award yesterday and some Juventus-related topics were discussed on the stage. Jorge Mendes won as best agent and returned on the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: “The credit goes to Juventus, to their president Andrea Agnelli and to who made that call. Cristiano said to me in January that he would have liked to play there, I thought it would have been impossible and I told him that it was very difficult. However, they did manage to pull it off. Our first meeting was with Pavel Nedved and Fabio Paratici before the clash with Real Madrid, then with the president. When I spoke with Agnelli I went from considering it impossible to deeming it probable and the president sealed it. The negotiation lasted for two or three months.”

Continue reading

Ronaldo talks Juventus, Messi & the Ballon d’Or

ronaldo5

Cristiano Ronaldo gave an attention-grabbing interview to Gazzetta dello Sport: “I am happy to be here, the city is very pretty, the fans are nice and Juventus is a fantastic club with an extraordinary organization. The players are humble and work hard. The first impression has been wonderful.”

On the squad: “This is the best group I have played in, we are a team. In other clubs, some players felt like they were bigger than the teammates, while that is not the case here. They are aligned and they want to win. Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic are happy even if they do not score. I noticed the difference. Compared to Real Madrid, this is more like a family.” Continue reading

Supercoppa fully set, stock updates, financial outlook & Juventus Travel unveiled

Juventus - Chievo

This week was full of interesting quotes and some of the off-the-field news were left out, so here is a rundown of what went down. The date, place and starting time for the Supercoppa Italiana has been set: Juventus vs Milan will be played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, with kick-off a 8.30 pm local time, 6.30 pm in Italy and half an hour after noon on the East Coast.

On December 27, in the Milan Stock Exchange, Juventus will enter the FTSE-Mib index, which is the group of the 40 most capitalized companies, joining the other assets of the Agnelli family: FCA, Ferrari and Exor. Continue reading

Chiellini, Dybala, Paratici, Pjanic and Nedved speak at Gran Galà

juventus

Monday was a day of awards, as the Ballon d’Or was handed to Luka Modric, with Cristiano Ronaldo finishing second and Mario Mandzukic 25th, and Serie A held its Gran Galà. Juventus triumphed as best team of last season, Massimiliano Allegri prevailed as best coach and four and a half Bianconeri got into the ideal XI: Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala, while Joao Cancelo was recognized for what he did last year at Inter.

Several personalities spoke to the journalists during the event. Continue reading

Allegri’s presser ahead of Juventus-SPAL

allegri

Coach Massimiliano Allegri previewed tomorrow’s clash with SPAL earlier today and begun by addressing the Balloon d’Or rumours: “I do not know anything about that. Cristiano Ronaldo is practicing well and would deserve it for what he has done.”

On Paulo Dybala scoring with Argentina: “It is a nice step for him. He is constantly improving, he started off very well this year, both physically and mentally. He has to keep it going, but that also depends on his desire. He is at his best when he plays almost as midfield, between the lines, knitting the maneuver. He tracks back to help his teammates and then feeds Mario Mandzukic and Ronaldo, who work less in the build-up.” Continue reading