Where Now for Italian Football?

michael coneyContributor IJune 10, 2009

The high-profile transfer of Milan superstar Kaka could set a dangerous precedent for Italian football.

Serie A has always been known as one of the greatest leagues in the world.  It boasted talents such as Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, and Pavel Nedved.

Before that it had players of the calibre of Michel Platini, the famous Dutch trio of Rijkaard, Van Basten, and Gullit.

It had history, with famous victories for its clubs such as Milan's demolition of Cruyff's Barcelona or the Juventus team's exploits under Marcello Lippi. 

The sheer mention that a player was linked with teams with the class and history of Juventus, Milan, and Inter was enough to make them want to sign their names on a contract.

In more recent years the shining lights of Serie A have been men such as Kaka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  With Kaka's departure to Madrid, it seems the league may struggle for now to attract the top stars of the world game.

With tax laws being considerably different in Italy, it means that players wanting a bigger slice of the pie have been drawn to the bright lights of the Premier League and La Liga.

The problem of a crumbling infrastructure, with many stadiums having undergone negligible improvements in recent years has also contributed greatly.  Gate receipts are down all across Serie A, meaning less money to compete with the Premier League and La Liga.

The echoes of Calciopoli still remain, with that in itself also offering a serious impediment to those who wish to play in Italy.  What player wants to play in a league tarnished by allegations of corruption and match fixing?

There still remains an element of hooliganism in Italy, with games last season being postponed due to deaths of fans and matches played behind closed doors. 

This season we have witnessed the racial abuse of Mario Balotelli from a section of Juventus fans and the booing of Paolo Maldini by certain elements of the Milan support.

One only has to look at the squads of the top teams in England and Spain to see that the best of the world game are plying their trade in these leagues.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney etc etc.  They all play outside the peninsula.  Even Franck Ribery is plying his trade with Bayern Munich.

Now, the feelers being put out by Ibrahimovic indicate he wants to journey to Camp Nou to improve his prospects of landing that elusive Champions League trophy.  For Serie A to lose its two biggest 'superstar' names in a single season would be a catastrophe.

Italy does have some shining lights coming through from within the country itself.  Players like Davide Santon, Mario Balotelli, Sebastian Giovinco, and numerous others could prove to be the players who will drag the Italian game back into the light.  Alexandre Pato can only get better.

But the burning question still remains.  How long will it be before these bright young talents are lured away from Italy, weakening the state of calcio still further?

One can only hope that the powers that be within Italian football can address these issues, or the beloved league I have followed since I was a small child will fall further and further behind the rest.

If that sad day does come then it will have been a loss for football lovers everywhere.