Serie A Top Six Fantasy Midfielders in 2018/2019

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Predictably, the top point-getters among those listed as midfielders fully play as strikers. Some have done it for few years now, like Dries Mertens, who unleashed holy hell on the opponents down the stretch and run away atop of the chart with his 111 points, and Gregoire Defrel, who had a strong start and a prolific finish and collected 74 points. Others, like Josip Ilicic (72) underwent the transformation mid-season with good profits.

However, as far as the column goes, the choices fell on those who actually feature either as no.10, as winger or as a central midfielder.

Alejandro Gomez (63): he did the opposite compared to his Slovenian teammate, as he commenced the year as second-striker, but moved his position way back as the games went along, featuring as pure attacking midfielder in the second half of the season. Continue reading

Keita Balde set for Serie A exit

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With Inter Milan now on the lookout for a new manager following Luciano Spalletti’s exit, the Serie A side could also be in line to lose players before their new manager even arrives.

Former Italy and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is widely tipped to be the man coming in to replace Spalletti, and the fiery former midfielder could wield the axe in pre-season.

With talisman Mauro Icardi committing himself to the club prior to Spalletti’s departure, the incoming boss is unlikely to make Keita Balde’s loan move permanent.

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Assessing the Market for Wingers in Serie A

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After previously reviewing the market for goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders, it’s now time to take a look at the winger market in Serie A. Let’s first take stock of the current options available to the top Italian teams going into the summer window:

 

Juventus- Douglas Costa got off a fast start before becoming an after thought following some injuries and an off field issue (on top of the spitting incident), Bernardeschi showed pretty good chemistry with Ronaldo although his stats were underwhelming, Mandzukic continues to often play on the wing. Cuadrado struggled with a severe injury in second half of the season, while Cancelo’s defensive limitations could see him playing in a more advanced position next season.

Napoli- Callejon is now 32, Insigne started the season playing as a second striker, Younes showed flashes the few times he played and Ounas made the most of the opportunities given to him by Ancelotti- which were more frequent than under Sarri but still probably not enough for a 22 year old looking to break out. Simone Verdi continued to battle with injuries and is probably at best a super sub moving forward.

Inter- while Perisic did perform better in the final stretch of the season, he continued to disappear for months at a time. Politano was a very pleasant surprise and the best new addition along with De Vrij- he will certainly be redeemed from Sassuolo after his first season on loan with option to buy. Candreva continues to be hit like a pinata by Inter fans on Twitter

Atalanta- we covered Hateboer, Gosens and Castagne in the wing back article since they cover that role in Gasperini’s formation.

Milan- Suso and Perisic had similar seasons but at least peaked when it matters most. Castillejo wasn’t nearly as impactful as Deulofeu and could return to Spain, Bonaventura continues to rehab from his surgery while Calhanoglu hasn’t yet shown he can be a quality/consistent starter moving forward.

Roma- as great as El Shaarawy was this season, it’s not a good sign that he was clearly the club’s best winger (and probably best player period) over highly rated prospects like Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert.

Lazio- we covered most of their players at this position in the wingback section since Simone Inzaghi runs a similar system to Gasperini’s but Angel Correa could play as a winger with a new manager and was the club’s best player in second half of the season.

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Federico Chiesa- Fiorentina’s disastrous season makes him much more likely to leave, but has his value taken a hit since he’s the signature player on the most underachieving Serie A team of the season? Napoli had previously offered close to 50 million to acquire him and could still use him, while Chiesa has also been linked to Juventus and Inter. Chiesa is obviously very talented and only 21 years old, but this season he was more known for diving than scoring goals or delivering assists.

 

Douglas Costa- there are few players more electrifying in Serie A than the Brazilian international, but between the spitting incident in the match against Sassuolo and deciding to go to Neymar’s birthday party right after being involved in a car accident, it remains to be seen if Juventus, a club known for not tolerating these sorts of things, decide to hold on to him. But considering that they invested significantly to acquire him on a permanent basis from Bayern Munich (another club who got fed up with his off field antics) just last summer, he’s not a player they can turn a plusvalenza on easily despite his considerable skills.

 

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Keita Balde’- while Inter will certainly redeem the rights to Politano, it’s unlikely they’ll pay Monaco over 30 million to keep the former Lazio winger permanently- but considering their excellent relationship with his new agent, they could look to extend the loan. Keita struggled at first because he didn’t get much of a summer retreat and later battled injuries so another team could try to capitalize his considerable talent.

Ivan Perisic- Inter may regret not selling him after his excellent World Cup but at least his late season contributions could help them clinch a Champions League spot (I’m writing this a few days before final match of the season). Perisic has been linked to Premier League teams for the past two years and as recently as January when he came close to joining Arsenal and with Conte arriving, it’s likely that the nerazzurri will go for a more natural fit in 3 5 2.

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Cengiz Under- following Roma’s deep run in the Champions League last season, the Turkish winger was being mentioned as a player worth 50 million but the giallorossi decided to keep him after cashing in on Alisson, Strootman and De Rossi so he could be part of their young core. While Under didn’t have nearly as a good a season, Arsenal and Spurs continue to be mentioned as possible destination for him.

Suso- the former Liverpool winger has a 40 million exit clause and Milan have been trying to negotiate a new deal to increase it or eliminate it altogether, but so far Suso is requesting to be paid as much as Donnarumma and it’s hard to imagine the rossoneri wanting to pay him nearly that much.

Hakan Calhanoglu- the Turkish international best chance at staying is for Gattuso to be confirmed as Milan manager, if not it’s likely he’ll either head back to the Bundesliga or the Premier League where he has been linked to Leicester City.

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Lorenzo Insigne- after a stellar start to the season, Napoli’s home town star struggled considerably and looked more like the player we are (unfortunately) accustomed to seeing on the Italian national team. Insigne recently formalized his relationship with Mino Raiola as his agent, but while a transfer can’t be completely excluded, it’s more likely he’ll sign a new contract with Napoli and become arguably the biggest “bandiera” left in Serie A after Chiellini.

Rodrigo De Paul- after three seasons at Udinese, the former Racing winger/attacker is ready to take the next step in his career especially considering he also made his debut on Argentina’s national team. Napoli and Inter have been heavily linked to him and both clubs have an excellent relationship with Udinese.

Riccardo Orsolini- few players were more impactful in the second half of the season than the Bologna winger whom Juventus still own. The 22 year old could be used as part of a package by the bianconeri to acquire a bigger name (perhaps Chiesa or Milinkovic Savic) and should absolutely be considered an intriguing player for the Azzurri’s senior squad.

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Papu Gomez/Josip Ilicic- Atalanta’s current captain must be thrilled he never left to go play in the Middle East considering his club’s stellar season. Could he look for a huge pay day at the age of 31? It’s hard to envision that should Gasperini stay and if they qualify for the Champions League. Ilicic on the other hand has just one year left on his contract and has already agreed to personal terms with Napoli, it will be up to Atalanta to decide if they want to give him a raise after a stellar season.

 

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 38

Empoli v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Atalanta-Sassuolo: the Goddess survived Juventus’ second half push last week and returned from Turin with a precious point that allowed them to catch Inter and maintain a narrow lead over Milan. They have not lost since February 23rd and triumphed in eight of the following 12 rounds. Sassuolo are right in the middle of the pack but played spoiler last week by drawing with Roma. They have been defeated just once in the last eight matches, tying in five occasions. Josip Ilicic scored at the Stadium after being shut out for few weeks and also their rock Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez will be popular picks since the Neroverdi are not the stingiest bunch. Neither are the Bergamaschi to be honest: the locals have spread the wealth in terms of scoring, but in general Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Boga and Stefano Sensi have been their best contributors in the final months. Hans Hateboer’s suspension makes it clear that Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens will man the flanks: the former is more interesting since he is listed as a defender and in the midst of a prolific run. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 37

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Juan Musso: only a late consolation goal denied him a clean sheet against Frosinone, while in this round he and Udinese might be able to take advantage of the fact that SPAL have already clinched the permanence in Serie A.

Nicola Murru: Sampdoria are not a reliable away team, but they will square off against Chievo and their league-worst attack. The fullback, who has put together a strong season, might be able to pick up some bonus points at the other end too. He might miss the game, so his replacement Bartosz Bereszysnki could be a sound choice, even though not as convicing.

Lorenzo De Silvestri: he collected two assists in the last game against Sassuolo and he has a deadly connection with Andrea Belotti, so Il Gallo’s strong form has benefitted him too. Empoli are fighting for their lives, but their defensive numbers are pedestrian at best. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 37

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Sassuolo-Roma: the Neroverdi were handed their first loss since April last week by Torino, even though they certainly put up a fight, despite not being in need of points. The Giallorossi defeated Juventus with a late surge, garnering their fourth win in the last six rounds, tying in the other two and staying close to the fourth spot. Sassuolo have found the target in five of the last six rounds and La Lupa have not been great defensively on the road: they have spread the wealth around since Domenico Berardi was the only one to bag one in multiple matches. Jeremie Boga, Stefano Sensi, Manuel Locatelli and all the defenders contributed scoring-wise: Boga and Sensi have been their most lively contributors in the last few fixtures. The Giallorossi are getting a lot from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko, while the latest tactical change, if confirmed, would help the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, as the last two would see more minutes. Lorenzo Pellegrini is iffy due to a thigh ailment and his absence could allow Bryan Cristante to have a big role.

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Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 36

Torino FC v US Sassuolo - Serie A

Standings implications: Roma broke through late in the bout with Juventus, grabbing three points that allowed them to keep up with Milan and Atalanta, which upended Fiorentina and Genoa on Saturday. Inter dispatched Chievo and remained in third, while the Bergamaschi maintained their three-point lead over the rivals. Torino stayed close to the pack with a late comeback versus Sassuolo and Lazio returned to winning ways in Cagliari. In the suburbs of the standings, Empoli got the second W in a row, their first of the season on the road, by topping Sampdoria. Udinese did not fumble the Frosinone fixture, therefore the closest team is now Genoa that has just one more point than the Azzurri. Napoli beat SPAL. Bologna stayed in their relatively cozy spot with a win over Parma.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 36

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Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 35

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David Ospina: he is reportedly drawing the starts in order to trigger the option to buy him from Arsenal, either way, he or Alex Meret are in a good spot this week since Cagliari would have by far the worst clip in terms road goal if they had not scored three to Chievo and they might be without their second banana Joao Pedro on Sunday.

Federico Fazio: Roma have turned it around defensively, conceding just once in the last three matches and this week they will tangle with a Genoa team that has scored in just three of their last ten fixtures. The Argentinian centre-back and Aleksandar Kolarov are also the most likely to contribute on the other end considering their remarkable season tallies. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 35

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Juventus-Torino: the Bianconeri have no more achievements to pursue in Serie A, but they still showed up at San Siro last week and equalized in the second half after a poor start. They have yet to drop one at home. The Granata continue to be in the hunt not only for a Europa League berth: the fourth spot is four points away. They have defeated Milan and Genoa in their last two contests and have lost just once in the past 14. Cristiano Ronaldo scored last week and Miralem Pjanic has contributed with two assists recently. Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean are alternating next to the Portuguese ace, but neither is in supreme form, while Juan Cuadrado is starting to look sprier and Joao Cancelo is coming back on too. Continue reading