While Juventus’ acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo almost certainly widens the gap with the rest of the league, we could see a shift in the balance of power right below the bianconeri- Roma is clearly trying to go younger after moving on from Francesco Totti and Radja Nainggolan in back to back years, and Sarri’s cycle at Napoli has also come to an end. On the flip side we could see Inter replace the partenopei as Juventus’ biggest challenger, and there are also reasons to be very optimistic at Milan.
While the transfer window could still bring some eleventh hour surprises, with a week to go before the Serie A season begins we can take a leap of faith and try to predict the best and worst case scenarios for the top Italian teams
Mercato Uncertainty: while it’s very unlikely they would accept an offer this late in the window, we could see Paris St Germain make a concrete offer for Alex Sandro and Real Madrid for Miralem Pjanic.
Best Case Scenario: Can brings the muscle and dynamism Juventus has lacked in the midfield since Vidal left, Bonucci’s passing ability helps make up for lack of creativity, Douglas Costa, Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo form Juventus’ best attack ever, Cancelo matches Dani Alves’ contributions in Turin.
Worst Case Scenario: the competition from Perin causes Szczesny to revert to his Arsenal form, Bonucci’s return causes more drama than a season of 90210 and ignites a fight in the locker room that at least lands Mandzukic the lead role in the new Taken sequel, Ronaldo’s star power is a marketing boom but causes Dybala and Douglas Costa to take a step back, Can struggles so much to adapt to Serie A that fans often confuse him with Khedira on the pitch.
Mercato Uncertainty: the partenopi are still looking for a veteran keeper to start until Meret returns from his injury. President De Laurentiis could try to make a last second big name addition in response to all the difficulties in the pre season.
Best Case Scenario: once he returns from injury Meret looks like version of Donnarumma we saw in Gigio’s first season in Serie A, Fabian Ruiz proves to be a brilliant replacement for Jorginho and a better fit for Ancelotti’s system, Zielinski starts living up to the De Bruyne comparisons, Verdi proves to be an excel wild card and brings depth to all the positions up front, Milik stays healthy and maintains his very impressive scoring average over the course of a season.
Worst Case Scenario: the goalkeeper situation is so dire Napoli tries to bring back Pepe Reina in January, Albiol’s age starts catching up to him, Ghoulam struggles to come back from his second knee injury, Hamsik’s decline progresses but continuous to start over Zielinski because of his iconic image, Sarri lasts longer at Chelsea than Ancelotti under the Vesuvius and proves to have been right when he assessed the cycle to be over.
Mercato Uncertainty: Monchi has still to reinvest some of the proceeds from the Alisson sale, the giallorossi have been linked to numerous midfielders as well as Suso.
Best Case Scenario: Olsen follows the Roma tradition from the previous two years and surprisingly establishes himself as an elite Serie A keeper, Karsdorp proves himself after staying healthy and allows Di Francesco to use Florenzi further up the pitch, Pastore strives in the mezzala role, Zaniolo becomes the headline player in the Nainggolan deal, one year later Schick lives up his price tag, Under and Kluivert compete to become the next Salah.
Worst Case Scenario: Olsen is a massive downgrade from Alisson, Fazio reverts to his Premier League form, Cristante proves to be Gasperini fools gold, Dzeko, Kolarov and De Rossi show their age so much that Di Francesco is on the hot seat by Christmas.
Mercato Uncertainty: while the nerazzurri haven’t given up on the Modric dream, they are expected to announce the deal for Keita Balde on Monday
Best Case Scenario: De Vrij, Miranda and Skriniar form the best defense in Serie A, Vrsaljko establishes himself as the best right back in Serie A, Dalbert improves so much in his second season in Serie A that Asamoah moves permanently to the midfield, Nainggolan is rejuvenated playing once again for Spalletti, Keita Balde and Perisic are so devastating that Icardi surprisingly outscores Ronaldo while Lautaro Martinez is to Gabigol what Bruce Willis was to Samuel L Jackson in “Unbrekable”.
Worst Case Scenario: De Vrij struggles with injuries and feels so guilty because of his last match for Lazio he turns into the Dutch Ranocchia, Brozovic and Nainggolan highlights of the season take place on Instagram.
Mercato Uncertainty: with the transfer window in Spain and France open for another few weeks, there’s still a chance Real Madrid or PSG make a big offer for Milinkovic Savic.
Best Case Scenario: Durmisi turns into this season’s version of Marusic and takes over for Lulic on the left wing, Badelj has same impact as Lucas Leiva last season, Correa strives playing under the Roman sun and both Immobile and Luis Alberto’s performances are consistently on last season’s level.
Worst Case Scenario: Acerbi proves to be a significant downgrade from De Vrij, Caceres can’t stay healthy, Parolo and Lucas Leiva lose their battle against father time, Immobile’s goal total decreases so much Lotito regrets not selling him.
Mercato Uncertainty: Leonardo is looking for an offensive winger with Castillejo at the top of his wish list, but is he a potential replacement for Suso?
Best Case Scenario: Donnarumma establishes himself as Buffon’s replacement on Azzurri, Conti and Caldara live up to their hype, Gattuso transmits his grinta to Bakayoko who returns to his Monaco form, Calhanoglu builds on his excellent second half, Higuain outscores in one season all of Milan’s recent number nines (Pato, Matri, Torres, Destro, Luiz Adriano, Lapadula, Andre Silva).
Worst Case Scenario: Gattuso fails to get the most out of his improved squad and the Conte rumors start by mid October, Caldara struggles to adapt to a 4 man defense after playing in Gasperini’s system, Biglia struggles so much that Leonardo gets torched on Twitter for selling Locatelli.