After goal keepers and center backs, let’s assess the wing back market in Serie A. Let’s start by looking at the current depth chart for the top teams in the league:
Juventus- on paper the bianconeri are in great shape at the position after acquiring Cancelo last summer and signing Alex Sandro to an extension during the season. In addition, Spinazzola showed flashes of being a starting caliber wingback at a top club while De Sciglio is an adequate backup. However, should Allegri stay on at the club, it’s not out of the question Cancelo is sold and replaced with a more defensive right back.
Napoli- we witnessed a transition at the position for the partenopei. Hysaj and Ghoulam can no longer be considered the starters and while Malcuit is an intriguing option at least offensively, in order to take a leap forward Napoli simply can’t rely on Mario Rui as much. Napoli have been heavily linked with Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier.
Inter- it’s probably not a good sign that despite bringing in numerous new faces (Vrsaljko, Asamoah, Soares) the nerazzurri’s best wing back ended up being D’Ambrosio. Asamoah may be energized by Conte’s expected arrival but on the opposite side of the pitch, we’ll almost certainly see a new addition with Manchester City’s Danilo at the top of the list.
Atalanta- going into the season Gosens and Hateboer were the most underrated starting wingback duo in Serie A , but thanks to Atalanta’s great season they are no longer under the radar. Castagne has taken an extra step in his development and looks to be a star in the making. Even though they’ll be competing on multiple fronts, Atalanta will probably have to replace at least one of these three.
Milan- the rossoneri are so deep at this position that I had honestly forgotten they still had Strinic on the squad. Calabria and Conti are both starting caliber right backs and compliment each other quite well skill set wise, on the left side both Rodriguez and especially Laxalt have failed to live up to expectations.
Roma- the giallorossi invested heavily in Karsdorp two years ago and gave Florenzi a rich extension during the season. Kolarov continues to be one of their most important players at 33, while Santon can only be considered a backup. Luca Pellegrini could be the long term answer at left back.
Lazio- after Marusic took a substantial step compared to last season, sporting director Tare’ brought in Romulo in January. Just like Kolarov at cross town rivals Roma, the biancocelesti still heavily rely on a 33 year old in Lulic at the left wing.
Here are the wingbacks currently in Serie A who are expected to be in the transfer news headlines:
Joao Cancelo- could the talented Portuguese wingback leave Juventus after just one season same way he did at Inter? Should Allegri stay in Turin that is not out of the question and despite investing 40 million on him less than a year ago, Juventus could turn a profit when you consider how scarce the right wing back market. Joao Cancelo could be a great fit in the Premier League should he change teams once again.
Timothy Castagne- it will be interesting to see if Atalanta chooses to sell Gosens in the summer and give the starting job to Castagne or sell the most precious asset since Castagne has clearly higher upside and value. The 23 year old Belgian international has already scored 4 goals this season and has all the tools needed to be a starting left back on a top team in the near future. Castagne has already been linked to both Milan and Inter as well as teams abroad.
Manuel Lazzari- it wasn’t particularly surprising to see SPAL turn their season around once the 25 year old wing back returned from an injury earlier this year. At times it felt like manager Semplici’s offensive game plan was to give the ball to Lazzari to see if he could make it down the flank for a pin point cross. Lazzari has been previously linked to Napoli but would also be a great fit at Inter playing for Conte or at Lazio where he would be a considerable upgrade over Marusic/Romulo.
Nicola Murru- the former Cagliari left back has been in our lives for so long that it’s hard to believe he’s only 24, He’s now ready to make the leap at a bigger club after completing the next phase in his development at Sampdoria. Murru could be an intriguing fit at Lazio, Napoli and Roma.
Diego Laxalt- obviously Higuain and Caldara ended up being massive disappointments for Milan this season for different reasons, but Laxalt isn’t that far behind in this ranking of underachievers. The Uruguayan performed very well in the World Cup last summer following a strong season at Genoa, he looked more than ready to take a leap at a club like Milan. Laxalt would be an ideal fit on a club that uses a 3 man center back defense so his own coverage liabilities can be minimized.
Ola Aina- Torino acquired him in the summer on loan with an option to buy set at 10 million euro and considering his strong performances, there’s no doubt Torino will exercise this right- but there maybe teams with deep pockets looking to pounce on opportunity to sign a left back with Serie A experience who won’t turn 23 until October of this year for an even higher amount.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo- the Empoli left back made the most of his first season in Serie A and will certainly remain in Italy’s top division even if his current club gets relegated. Di Lorenzo could be a great option for a team like Atalanta, Torino, Fiorentina and Sampdoria should they decide to sell their current starter.
Cristiano Biraghi- the former Inter youth team product had an excellent start to the season which culminated with making his debut on the senior Azzurri squad. But with Fiorentina collapsing in the second half of the season, there has been a lot less buzz surrounding Biraghi’s name.
Rogerio/Lirola- the two Sassuolo wingbacks have quite a bit of experience in Serie A despite being 21 years old. Squinzi’s club shrewdly acquired Lirola outright from Juventus for 7 million last year, while Rogerio has already been linked to Chelsea during the January window as a potential replacement for Emerson Palmieri. Look for at least one of them to move to a bigger club this summer.