Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally shows fans his emotional side after his tearful farewell at the San Siro, the Champions League final is key to Romelu Lukaku’s future and Lazio can push for the title next year… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from Serie A
- Napoli lifted the league title after dominating the league, but others will improve
- Ibrahimovic waved goodbye to his playing days as he pondered his next move
- Lukaku could head back to Chelsea but may join Inter permanently this summer
The Serie A season was concluded this weekend, with teams now set to start planning for their 2021/22 campaigns next term.
They’ll have plenty to work on if they want to catch runaway champions Napoli, who won the league by 16 points ahead of Lazio after beating Sampdoria 2-0 on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed he’s retiring, with Adrien Rabiot also set to leave the division as he prepares to depart Juventus.
Romelu Lukaku’s future is also a hot topic, with the forward enjoying life with Inter Milan but potentially part of new Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino’s plans going forward. He has a Champions League final to deal with before anything is decided.
Below, Mail Sport‘s ALVISE CAGNAZZO talks us through 10 things we learned from another intriguing weekend of football in Serie A.
The Serie A season came to a close at the weekend, with Napoli lifting the league title
Zlatan Ibrahimovic said goodbye to AC Milan as he prepares to leave the club again and retire
Romelu Lukaku’s future must be decided, with the forward wanting a permanent move to Inter Milan but still a Chelsea player
1- LECCE’S BASCHIROTTO ENJOYS HUGE TURNAROUND
One year ago Federico Baschirotto made it through the play-off final with Ascoli but was powerless as his side failed to clinch promotion to Serie A. This season – since joining Lecce – he has drastically improved his fortunes after securing his side’s safety on his Serie A debut. Now he’s been called up to the national team at the express request of Roberto Mancini.
To say the least, Mancini’s phone call to Baschirotto announcing his first call up to the Italy team was a fairy tale complete with a smile.
The Azzurri coach called the Lecce defender during his celebrations after their survival, but the defender didn’t recognise him, asking: ‘Mister? Who?’.
Baschirotto is living a dream and his excellent season with Lecce could very soon project him to an Italian top club. Inter, Rome, Lazio and Juventus could start thinking about the defender discovered by Pantaleo Corvino. Lecce may consider a sale given how much they could make from his sale.
2 – PROVEDEL IS ONE OF SERIE A’S ELITE KEEPERS
Ivan Provedel undoubtedly deserved the award of best goalkeeper in Serie A and today he is the second best Italian goalkeeper behind Gigi Donnarumma.
It’s difficult not to think he could be set for a call up to the Italy national team considering how all the top Italian clubs have chosen foreign goalkeepers, limiting Roberto Mancini’s choice for the role.
Ivan Provedel could be set for a call up to the Italy national team after an impressive season
Provedel was expected to be back-up to goalkeeper Luis Manuel Arantes Maximiano, who immediately lost his place as Lazio’s number one after a horror debut in Serie A. Provedel took advantage, and obtained 100 per cent of Massimiliano Sarri’s trust.
Today, behind Donnarumma, there is only Provedel, and Lazio have technical and economic capital that they will be able to exploit in the coming years.
3 – VLAHOVIC COULD SAY FAREWELL TO SERIE A
Dusan Vlahovic probably said goodbye to Italian football in his last Serie A match against Udinese, in which he didn’t even play due to injury.
According to Tuttosport, Bayern Munich have already started negotiations with Juventus, offering £43.1million, still considered too little by the Italian club. With offers of less than £60million, Juventus will not sell its jewel that has entered a collision course with Max Allegri and with his football philosophy.
No team at the moment seems willing to pay that money for him, but Vlahovic is confident that he can demonstrate, by remaining at Juventus or any other top international club, that he is the top player admired during his time in Fiorentina.
Dusan Vlahovic will likely leave Juventus, but missed the end of the season due to injury
Thomas Tuchl;’s Bayern Munich are believed to have began discussions over a move
4 – RABIOT, LAST TIME IN SERIE A
Bye bye Adrien Rabiot. £218million invested on the market without being able to obtain any victory: this is the great trauma that led Rabiot understanding the end of his cycle at Juventus.
The Elkann family’s team has lost credibility in the eyes of the French midfielder, who will live this Serie A final looking for a sun place in a top European club.
Without Europe and without immediate victory prospects, Rabiot preferred not to listen to the offers for a contract renewal formulated by Juventus under pressure from Allegri and his career in Serie A can already be considered done.
The match against Udinese was his last match with Juventus and after four years- three of which he played insufficiently – his farewell will certainly be one more tactical and technical problem for the club’s future sporting director, who will likely be Cristiano Giuntoli.
Adrien Rabiot is set to leave Juventus after four unsuccessful years with the club in Italy
The midfielder believes Juventus have lost credibility and he is now looking for a new side in Europe
5 – SPEZIA OR VERONA, WHICH TEAM WILL GO ON SERIES B?
Spezia vs Verona will be the most delicate play-off in recent years. The losing team will be relegated to Serie B.
Verona and Spezia finished Serie A with 31 points each in the standings and the market for M’Bala Nzola’s will also depend on the outcome.
If the Ligurians are relegated to Serie B, the African striker would leave the club. Roma, Torino and Genoa are following with interest the player who deserves to stay in Italy’s top division.
Both teams were forced them into a long agony of results capable of compromising their path in Serie A. Spezia lost against Roma and Verona lost against Milan and, with neither side able to pick up a point, they had to extend the season with another decisive round of salvation.
6 – GOD(BYE) IBRA
The San Siro stadium managed to reduce Zlatan Ibrahimovic to tears, an unusually emotional response from the normally unflappable 42-year-old Swedish striker.
Leaving AC Milan for the second time wasn’t easy for Ibra the fact he bid farewell with his heart finally offers a more human image of a player who was perceived to have an ice heart during his career.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was reduced to tears as he waved goodbye to AC Milan once again
The forward will leave the club for a second time and will have to decide on his future
He received a hero’s reception from the Milan fans after a total of five years at the club
From Monday, Ibra will have to decide what to do: leave football, become a sports agent, or accept offers as a coach within Milan. A year ago, the renewal of his contract was an act of love, a choice forced by the gratitude towards him from Paolo Maldini, a recognition for those who had contributed to recovering the club from the problems of the past.
7 – REVENGE SARRI
Maurizio Sarri has succeeded in demonstrating to both Chelsea and Juventus that he is not only an expert coach in tactics but also that he has the right personality to improve the personality of his teams. Even Luis Alberto, with whom there had initially been several clashes, admitted that he had changed his way of playing by listening to the advice of his coach.
Lazio play spectacular football only a few steps lower than that of Napoli. Next year Sarri can finally try to make the last upgrade by betting on the possibility of winning the Scudetto.
The first knot to solve will be that of the future of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who, after so many years, could officially ask the club to be sold in Italy or abroad to try a new professional experience.
Lazio plays with a technical and tactical precision never achieved in the last 20 years and today Sarri’s extraordinary stubbornness is an added value to be exploited in order to be able to compete again for the Scudetto victory.
Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio side finished second in the league table and could push for the title next season
8 – LUKAKU FUTURE
This Romelu Lukaku can still be useful to Inter. After living the first five months in hibernation, the Belgian forward is today the center forward with the most enthusiasm at Inter.
The Champions League final against Manchester City could be crucial in deciding his future. Edin Dzeko is 37 years old and Joaquin Correa has hardly ever been a protagonist this season. For this reason Lukaku has become the right man in the right place despite not playing 70 per cent of the games this season.
Lukaku dreams of staying at Inter but will certainly return, at least temporarily, to Chelsea pending a definitive offer from Simone Inzaghi’s club. The coach would have expressed a favorable opinion regarding his future, but before any definitive decision it will be necessary to wait for the result of the match on 10 June.
The Champions League final could be crucial in deciding Lukaku’s future as an Inter player
It is unclear if new Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Lukaku has a future with the Blues
9 – QUAGLIARELLA TEARS
Fabio Quagliarella cried like a child who had found the toy they always wanted under the tree on Christmas night. The 40-year-old Sampdoria captain was welcomed in a very warm and affectionate way in Napoli by his former side’s fans, who dedicated several chants to him and greeted his farewell to Serie A with dignity.
Quagliarella couldn’t hold back his emotion and burst into tears on the pitch while team-mates Manolo Gabbiadini and Tommaso Augello embraced him to the applause of Maradona Stadium.
His future is unknown, and the will to follow Sampdoria in Serie B will depend on the choices of the new owner of the club and the technical staff that will be chosen.
Quagliarella is living the sunset of his career with dignity and a year in Serie B, even part time, could be very useful for the team to guarantee continuity and personality in a very difficult league.
Fabio Quagliarella was brought to tears against Napoli as he continues to wind down his career
10 – PAULO SOUSA DESERVES A TOP CLUB
Paulo Sousa has proven to be a fantastic coach for Serie A. Taking the place of Davide Nicola, the man performed a miracle salvation in the last match of last season.
It was not an easy task, but the former Juventus and Borussia Dortmund playmaker has managed to transform Salernitana into a spectacular team at last. Today Paulo Sousa deserves an even more prestigious bench than that of Salernitana because his work has been extraordinary in a very short time.
The feeling is that if Paulo Sousa had led the team from the first game of the season, they could have even won a place in Europe.
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