Best XI of 2013/14 Serie A Signings

Anthony LopopoloFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

Best XI of 2013/14 Serie A Signings

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    Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

    Napoli and Roma made the most significant of transformations this season. They are two clubs trying to establish themselves as Italy's best. They spent a lot of money, but they also made some bargain buys.

    Both teams qualified for the Champions League, Roma for the first time since 2011. They managed their highest-ever points total (85) and competed with Juventus, who broke many of their own records, until the end.

    Some great talent has left the peninsula over recent years—Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva all going to Paris—but plenty have come in. Here is a selection of the very best transfers made this year based on a 4-4-2 formation.

    For the sake of clarity, players on co-ownership and loan deals were not included (including the likes of Ciro Immobile, Jorginho and Juan Cuadrado).

Goalkeeper: Morgan De Sanctis

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    Paolo Giovannini/Associated Press

    Transferred from Napoli to Roma for €500,000


    Morgan De Sanctis may look better than he is. This season he played behind the second-best defence in Serie A and registered 21 clean sheets, according to Fox Soccer.

    He has already made more than 540 appearances over his career at the club and international level. He is also a perfect mentor for young goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski, the 23-year-old who looked impressive in his Roma debut against Juventus at the end of the season.

Defender: Faouzi Ghoulam

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    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Transferred from Saint-Etienne to Napoli for undisclosed fee (reported to be €6 million)


    The 23-year-old Algerian is a fine left-back with the capacity to run up and down the flanks, to track back and deliver a great ball. He was an automatic starter with Saint-Etienne, and he has only continued to play well at Napoli.

    His game is very simple. He makes sharp passes, he makes blocks and he intercepts the loose balls. He is well-positioned and doesn't make very many mistakes.

Defender: Hugo Campagnaro

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Transferred from Napoli to Inter for free


    He often has the look of a bloodied fighter, chomping on his mouthguard. Hugo Campagnaro is a physical defender, and he put in several key performances in the middle of Inter's three-man defence this season.

    He came to Inter with coach Walter Mazzarri, and Napoli most probably miss him more than Edinson Cavani. Scoring is not so much a problem for the Partenopei; it's defending. That Campagnaro left on a free transfer is even worse.

    He was not always healthy. He missed several games as the season wound down. But he is the kind of feisty player who brings a lot of energy. He made an average of 2.8 interceptions, a team-high according to WhoScored.com.

Defender: Mehdi Benatia

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    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    Transferred from Udinese to Roma for €13.5 million


    He was the best defender in Serie A this season—let alone one of the best signings. He could even score the odd header. Mehdi Benatia scored five goals this season, a single-season high for the 27-year-old.

    He endured some muscle problems and missed several games, but he has unmistakable attributes and is commanding in the air, tough in the tackle and poised on his feet.

    He reads the game and intervenes at the right time, much like Thiago Silva. Benatia has risen amongst Europe's finest in the position.

Defender: Maicon

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    Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

    Transferred from Manchester City to Roma for undisclosed fee (reported to be £3 million)


    Once the greatest right-back in the world, Maicon made the switch to Roma after a season on the fringes at Manchester City. It looked like his career was ending, but now he is going to play for Brazil at home in the World Cup.

    That's due to a tidy return to form. He was back sprinting down the right flank, driving shots at the net. It is a spectacular sight. He even scored like a striker against Genoa this year, running down the middle, past defenders and neatly tucking the ball past the goalkeeper.

Midfielder: Kevin Strootman

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    Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

    Transferred from PSV to Roma for €17 million


    Kevin Strootman suffered a devastating season-ending ACL injury in April, but before that he was a commanding presence in midfield for Roma.

    He finished the year with five goals and six assists, scoring some beautiful ones.

    He was an expensive signing but worth all of it. He can play immaculate through balls and play the simple short pass. And he has a ferocious shot when he chooses to unleash it. Simply one of the smartest midfielders in Serie A.

Midfielder: Hernanes

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Transferred from Lazio to Inter for €20 million


    Hernanes did not look like a player worth that much. But he has proven to be a consistent performer with Inter.

    Signed in the winter, Hernanes only scored twice for his new club, but the 28-year-old has worked hard, playing in both defensive and attacking positions. He was also selected to feature for Brazil in the World Cup.

    He's the kind of player who will test a goalkeeper with a few long-range shots, but boy, can he crack one from outside the 18-yard box.

Winger: Gervinho

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    Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

    Transferred from Arsenal to Roma for undisclosed fee (reported to be £8 million)


    Gervinho was a dud at Arsenal. Perhaps misused. He still missed few sitters while playing for Roma, but coach Rudi Garcia understood how to use this winger.

    He could eat up dozens of yards of space, running all the way to score. He is such a tricky player to defend against—especially on the counter, where Roma really threatened. He runs right at defenders and scores like this.

    Gervinho finished the season with 10 assists, tied with Alessio Cerci and Francesco Totti at the top of the Serie A chart.

Winger: Jose Callejon

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    Transferred from Real Madrid to Napoli for €10 million


    Maybe it is fashionable to be rejected by Real Madrid. Jose Callejon was one of the many players to breathe fresh air with his new club. He scored 20 goals in all competitions for Napoli, scoring more goals in a single year than he did in two seasons with Madrid.

    One of the most dynamic players in Italy, capable of playing on both wings, Callejon always found room inside the box. He runs well and he can retain the ball. He is 27, but his career is just now taking off.

Forward: Carlos Tevez

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    Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

    Transferred from Manchester City to Juventus for £10 million (plus bonuses)


    Carlos Tevez was a frustrating figure in England. In Italy he has behaved and scored. He had his issues in Europe—only last month did he score his first European goal in five years.

    But it’s not just that: Tevez contributes all over the pitch. He is not an outright striker. He is one of the hardest workers in Serie A, maybe in Europe. He also creates: He made eight assists in all competitions with Juventus this season.

Forward: Luca Toni

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Transferred from Fiorentina to Hellas Verona for free


    Luca Toni was re-born this season. He reached the 20-goal mark for the first time since the 2007-8 season with Bayern Munich, scoring a third of the goals for Hellas Verona in Serie A. He also set the all-time Serie A record for headers scored.

    Toni is 36. He had thought about retiring. But he is still lethal in the box.