Serie A 2013-14 Will Be All About the Next Generation
It's a theme that's been building for some time in Italian football, but it's one that is set to come to the fore in 2013-14.
Only a few years ago, Serie A was often referred to as the retirement home of European football, a place for ageing stars to go and eek out another couple of seasons. Carlo Ancelotti's AC Milan, in particular, had a strong "veteran" look about them.
Fast forward to 2013, and the Rossoneri are one of the youngest, most exciting sides around.
Sure, every summer another superstar seems to leave. But what's been most noticeable about those moves is not the fact that they've left the league bereft of talent—just the opposite.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's move from Milan to PSG two summers ago had fans up in arms...until Stephan El Shaarawy started scoring for fun.
Edinson Cavani is one of the world's greatest players, and his move from Napoli to Paris was one of the summer's biggest transfer stories. The dust has hardly settled on the transfer, but the Partenopei have already gotten over the loss.
Eight new signings, including the high-profile striker Gonzalo Higuain, actually make the Azzurri look better than they did last year. Along with Higuain's goals, there's every reason to believe that the absence of Cavani will allow more space in which Lorenzo Insigne can bloom. The Naples native is an immense talent, and the prospect of a homegrown superstar leading the line at the San Paolo should have Serie A fans electric with excitement.
Roma have invested heavily in youth in recent seasons and though they've had a tough time of it, if things can click in the Italian capital, the Giallorossi have a young, hungry squad to be reckoned with. Miralem Pjanic, Mattia Destro and Erik Lamela have the potential to be world beaters, and though just 23, new arrival Kevin Strootman is an established international with the Netherlands.
Another new face at the Stadio Olimpico, Tin Jedvaj, is one of the most exciting prospects to come out of the talent factory at Dinamo Zagreb in recent years, and he cost just a fraction of the €35 million the Lupi earned for the sale of Marquinhos.
Fiorentina have several young stars on the books as well. Adem Ljajic is vastly experienced for a 21-year-old and has the talent to match. So, too, is the Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic.
Even the newly promoted sides have their share of explosive potential.
The current champions, meanwhile, have a good blend of youth and experience on their books. Paul Pogba is perhaps the most talked about Juventus player—and with good reason. The French youngster looks set for great things.
Angelo Ogbonna has just arrived from Torino, and at 25, is now ready to make a name for himself on the world stage. Fausto Rossi is attracting a lot of attention, too, and after two seasons at Brescia in Serie B, is now hoping to break through in Bianconero.
Serie A's clubs might struggle to match the financial clout of the very biggest sides in European football, but they're turning that into a strength rather than a weakness.
By finding young talent, Italy's clubs are not only making a shrewd investment in the future, they're also promising fans everywhere plenty of action as the next generation labours tirelessly each week to make a name for themselves.
The influx of youth has reinvigorated Italian football and will add plenty of spark to the season in 2013-14.
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