The Serie A endured some of its darkest years post-Calciopoli, right during its World Cup triumph in 2006.
Those depressing years saw the most successful domestic side, Juventus, stripped of its titles and sent packing to the Serie B, where they reached promotion right away.
Plenty of talented players were sold to leagues with more money and aspirations, and the Serie A reeled in pain from the negative spotlight it endured on a worldwide scale.
Fast forward to 2013, and a very different story has unfolded. Most the top teams know that they cannot compete with the lavish, oftentimes wasteful foreign owners who have taken over and inflated the marketplace.
Only recently have we seen the first foreign owner take over a club on the peninsula, as Erick Thohir bought a majority of Inter. It remains to be seen how the transfer market changes for the Nerazzurri with new funds backing a more optimistic mindset.
With this in mind, Italian squads have had to rely on intricate scouting networks to find the new phenom of the next generation, or to try to unearth quality from within the youth ranks. This combined with shrewd purchases have improved the league from last season.
Even though Napoli and Roma made the biggest sales in the league, with Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos, respectively, they are better overall and bought more pieces to give them a more balanced starting XI and a deeper roster.
Roma has provided a blueprint for how to succeed without being wasteful, as they managed to sell Marquinhos and use his funds to purchase the phenomenally underrated Mehdi Benatia and box-to-box midfielder Kevin Strootman.
Now, the club is more complete and has just the right mixture of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance to succeed domestically and take Europe by storm.
Another interesting trend which is making a comeback deals with Serie A teams using the second division to find players. It seemed that the past decade would make this trend extinct, but recent revelations from the Serie B have made the jump successfully to the top flight.
Most of these players come without the lofty price tag of a foreign import and are mostly better equipped to handle the rigors and mentality of Italian football.
With this said, it's also important to be a realist. The league losing its fourth Champions League slot to the Bundesliga was a massive blow, and it's unlikely that we'll see an Italian side hoisting the Champions League trophy anytime soon. The gap between the top three teams in Europe and the best in Italy is substantial.
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