Heavy losses and new hopes: Lazio, Milan, Atalanta and Roma

Heavy losses and new hopes: Lazio, Milan, Atalanta and Roma

Milinkovic-Savic away: Lazio has to stretch

Midfield star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been loyal to Lazio since 2015 – there are endless rumors here, possible transfer fees of 100 million euros there. But this summer, when the team of attacking mastermind Maurizio Sarri had qualified for only the second time since 2007/08 for the Champions League, the Serbian international dropped out. Because of the money. Because “SMS” did not change to Serie A rival Juventus, as had been discussed for years, but to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

That hurt and hurts the Lazio soul. But looking ahead for the surprise team of the past season: The runners-up have to be prepared not to drop in a tight top group – and that during the dance at three big weddings in the league, premier class and Coppa Italia. It has to be seen whether aging leaders like Ciro Immobile or Pedro still have enough in the tank – and whether on paper European names like Juventus loan Nicolo Rovella or Daichi Kamada (who came from Eintracht on a free transfer) can help directly. It will definitely be difficult to stay in the top 4.

Tonali away: Milan partly new, partly well-known

As reigning champions, achieved the minimum goal of qualifying for the Champions League again and advanced to the semi-finals in the most recent season of the premier class: Milan has had a decent 2022/23 season on paper – and also tied Juwel Rafael Leao to the club in the long term. Can go on like this, right?

It is clear that the Rossoneri were clearly inferior to city rivals Inter (0:2, 0:1) in the said semi-finals and in Serie A could well have only landed in the Europa League. In addition, the Lombards had to give their midfield ace Sandro Tonali – admittedly for a lot of money – to CL participants Newcastle United and watch how this convinced in his first game directly in the Premier League. As a leader in the squad, albeit almost only injured in the end, club icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic (end of career) also broke away.

Nevertheless, coach Stefano Pioli’s team can be expected to be in the top 4, there is enough quality for that: Olivier Giroud has extended, keeper Mike Maignan or winger Theo stayed. In addition, the promising newcomers Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Noah Okafor (Salzburg) and Samu Chukwueze (Villarreal) ensure more squad depth.

Höjlund away: Atalanta

After his training station FC Copenhagen and his short Austrian adventure at Sturm Graz, striker Rasmus Höjland only came to Atalanta Bergamo a year ago – and with many strong performances had helped the Lombards to come in 5th place and get involved internationally (Europa League) again to be allowed. However, the 20-year-old Dane is no longer present, Manchester United have put 75 million euros on the table and selected Höjlund as the hopeful.

Conversely, Atalanta, who was still trained by Gian Piero Gasperini, needed fresh supplies for the attack – and came across the Italian international Gianluca Scamacca, who was no longer happy on the island. Together with other new players such as ex-Schalke Sead Kolasinac, ex-Leverkusen Mitchel Bakker, Milan loan professional Charles de Ketelaere, a lot should and can succeed. But the competition is great, for the Champions League participation it should not be enough with strong competition (champions Napoli, Lazio, Inter, Milan, Roma, Juve) as of now.

Ibanez away: The Roma and the midfield

It goes without saying that José Mourinho wants to take his teams to the Champions League. And yet his Roma had finally run out of breath in the last Serie A season, which is why after sixth place only the Europa League qualification was booked. In this competition, “The Special One” also had to cope with its first European final defeat this year (1:4 against FC Sevilla).

Jose Mourinho

Thumbs up for a successful new season? Roma coach Jose Mourinho.
IMAGO/LaPresse

But the good thing from the Giallorossi’s point of view: The esteemed coach, who often outspoken against referees and was banned several times as a result, remained true to his Roma project and wants to develop the team further. On this path, important pillars such as veteran Nemanja Matic (Stade Rennes) or defensive great Roger Ibanez (Al-Ahli) broke away in the summer – and striker Tammy Abraham will probably be missing until the beginning of 2024 after a cruciate ligament injury. But a lot has happened on the other side like the whereabouts of Bryan Cristante and of course the extremely promising newcomers Evan Ndicka (Eintracht Frankfurt), Houssem Aouar (Olympique Lyon), Argentina world champions Leandro Paredes and Renato Sanches – the last three all for midfield.

Should there be more consistency in the results in the future, Roma under Mourinho could move back into the top 4 in Serie A – and possibly return to the final of the Europa League. That will be the claim in the “Eternal City”. Especially when offensive figurehead Paulo Dybala completes an entire season without major injury problems.

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