Serie A and Italian Football Will Rise Stronger Than Ever Despite Recent Decline

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Serie A and Italian Football Will Rise Stronger Than Ever Despite Recent Decline
Dino Panato/Getty Images

After losing a Champions League spot, it would be true to say that Serie A has gone through a period of demise. However, it now seems clear that despite this, the domestic league and Italian football in general will rise again stronger than ever to challenge for World Football supremacy. 

My belief in this is based on a simple formula I've devised. I call it the Football Circle Of Life. 

It goes like this: Decline = No Money, No Money = Developing Talent, Developing Talent = Money, Money = Rise. 

Seems pretty straightforward, right? 

Using Italian football as a guide, I'll explain how it's been playing out, starting from the beginning.

 

Decline = No Money

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Cannavaro was one of many big names to leave Italy after Calciopoli

Despite the Calciopoli scandal, Italian football managed one last true hurrah by lifting the World Cup in 2006. It was a statement to the world that the Italian game was strong and united, and that it would forever remain as a prime example of successful European football. 

Unfortunately, we all know what happened next. In Serie A, Calciopoli meant Juventus were relegated. A squad traditionally star-studded began to offload some big names like Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram to foreign clubs; the defenders went to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

This was the first sign of decline. 

Many other big names followed, with the league undergoing an exodus of world-class players, as Goal.com's Andrea Ghislandi reports.

The following World Cup in 2010 was a disaster due to an over-reliance on a generation of players well past their prime. In the league, meanwhile, despite Inter's Champions League victory in 2010, Serie A lost its fourth Champions League spot.

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Since then, Serie A simply hasn't been able to compete with the rest of the world financially. Certainly, the country's own poor economy has played a major role in this. But beyond this, individual clubs' failure to impress on the European stage has generated neither revenue nor prestige.

The result?

The world's best players generally overlooked Italy, instead preferring the Premier League or La Liga. And now, it's interesting to note that it's the Bundesliga's time to shine, the very league that took that Champions League spot from Serie A two years ago. 

 

No Money = Developing Talent 

Without the attraction of foreign players and with homegrown stars leaving, a massive effort has been put into prospective youth systems across Italy. More and more youngsters have begun to find a place in their squads with chances to prove themselves.

Evidence of this can be seen in Italy's U-21 squad, which recently proved to be second best in Europe, finishing as runners-up in this summer's Euros. 

This extends to Italy's senior squad. 

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Balotelli an example of the Italian revival

As Euro 2012 finalists, manager Cesare Prandelli has revived the Azzurri after the embarrassing 2010 World Cup thanks to a host of young players who have come through the ranks of Serie A's youth academies. These include Stephan El Sharaawy and Mario Balotelli.

Other young players, meanwhile, have already begun to show they are primed for success on the senior international side, with Mattia de Sciglio coming immediately to mind. 

In both Euros, the Italians lost to Spain, who have demonstrated they are still at the pinnacle of the game in terms of upcoming and existing talent.

This can only be encouraging for the Italians, reinforcing the notion that the investment in youth systems is without a doubt in direct correlation with a national team's success. Such investment has led to Italy's recent return to prominence in the international arena. 

Italian clubs have furthermore been extra keen on risking cheaper, young talent from abroad rather than cashing in on established players from other leagues throughout Europe.

A set of successful examples of this can be seen in Roma's signing of Marquinhos from Corinthians in 2012, Stevan Jovetic's signing from Partizan in 2008 and Palermo's signing of Edinson Cavani from Danubio in 2007. 

 

Developing Talent = Money

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Javier Pastore, a youngster shining in Serie A, earned big money from PSG

In comparison to the exodus I mentioned earlier with big names leaving Italy for greener (pun intended) pastures, the past two years has seen an increasing amount of young players being sent abroad for hefty sums of cash.

Take, for example Javier Pastore, who signed for PSG as a 22-year-old for a whopping €42 million in 2011. Or Balotelli, who signed for Manchester City as a 19-year-old for €28 million in 2010. This year, 19-year-old Marquinhos signed for PSG for €35 million, as ESPN's Ian Holyman reports

These are just the biggest of the bunch, Marco Verratti generated €12 million as a 19-year-old in 2012. For current Serie B team Pescara, €12 million is not a bad payoff. 

The money these players are earning for their clubs in conjunction with the transfer of other, older, more established stars such as Edinson Cavani (to PSG for €63 million this year, as Goal.com reports) or Thiago Silva (to PSG for €42 million last year, as Goal.com's Andrea Ghislandi reports) is playing a pivotal role in Serie A's current period that I've pinpointed as one of revival.

Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images
Cavani signs for PSG for a record-breaking fee, paving way for Napoli to bring in another big name

Maybe Paris Saint-Germain are personally looking to help Serie A out of its recession? Anyway, this is besides the point.

 

Money = Rise 

Thus it all comes full-circle in the Football Circle of Life. 

Where does all this money go? Oh, the glories of capitalism. It's invested, of course, both into Italian clubs' youth systems and into the transfer market.

With more money to spend, big names are again being linked to Italian clubs, and this summer's transfer window has been the first clear indication of this.

Whereas initially the departure of big names has pointed to a waning in Italian football, the money they are now generating is contributing to an influx of new stars. Soon, if not already, the influx will outweigh the outflow. 

This trend has already started.

Juventus have brought in Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente. Fiorentina have snatched up Mario Gomez. Napoli looks to bring in Gonzalo Higuain, as Goal.com reports. Roma have beaten the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to sign Kevin Strootman, as ESPNFC reports.  

That's not to say these incoming players are already on the same level as big stars like Kaka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic who have left Serie A in the past. But as I said, these are merely the first signs pointing to what can only be an upward trend. 

Dino Panato/Getty Images
The arrival of Tevez shows that big names are beginning to look to Italy yet again

Perhaps more importantly, more money means young, upcoming stars in addition to ones in their prime may be more keen on staying put in Italy. 

This will be key in the regaining of Serie A's prestige; stars attract more stars.

Meanwhile, the investment put in the youth systems has brought about a new generation of Italian prospective champions who look poised to take up the reigns of the Azzurri. 

Although it may take several years still, it seems clear that Serie A and Italian football in general will rise from the ashes of decline to be reasserted amongst the elite leagues and national sides of the world. 

Am I being too bold? Let me hear your thoughts. 

And, if you'd like, follow me on Twitter

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