Kalidou Koulibaly. Diego Godin. Serie A is back baby!
The Italian top-flight has come back swinging, bringing some of the most exciting and talented prospects in Europe to the shores of Italia. We all know who are the top dogs in every division, but there are always some dark horses to keep your eye on.
Some go unnoticed in smaller teams. Others are just breaking into their side, ready to burst onto the European scene. And then there are those who have simply flown under the radar of Twitter and GIFs for years on end.
Dont get me wrong, Juventus and Napoli are great to watch, but look a little bit further down the table and you might find some absolute ballers you didnt even know existed.
Like these guys below.
This kid has a bright future ahead of him. Andrea Pinamonti is an exciting product of the Inter academy, and he is cutting his teeth at Genoa this season following his loan spell at Frosinone last year.
Pinamonti was unable to prevent I Canarini from an inevitable return to Serie B, but the youngsters performances stood head and shoulders above his teammates during a miserable campaign.
Full of pace, trickery and a nose that can sniff out a chance anywhere on the pitch, the Italy Under-21 international is one of the hottest young talents in Serie A right now.
One to watch.
Cagliari are in safe hands for the foreseeable future, as I Rossoblu possess one of the best young shot-stoppers in the league. Cragno starred in Sardinia last year, putting in a string of top performances and gaining a call-up to the senior national team in September 2018.
Cragnos season has suffered a false-start, however, as the 25-year-old is recovering from a shoulder injury which he picked up during pre-season. Robin Olsen is currently occupying the number one spot, but Cragno will expect to regain his place when the time comes.
Another big season ahead for the Cagliari Cat.
Brescia may be newly-promoted to the Italian top-flight, but Sandro Tonali already looks part of the Serie A furniture.
The 19-year-old is strikingly similar in appearance to Italy legend Andrea Pirlo, and on the pitch there are some distinct parallels with the World Cup winner too. The Brescia boys passing and calmness on the ball is remarkable for someone with so little experience, but he also gets about the pitch with much more intensity than his role model.
Hes a box-to-box combative midfielder, with an elegance and grace to his play which is hard to come by in the modern game.
Tonali has stayed at Brescia to help Le Rondinelle ensure Serie A status next season, but with Europes elite watching his every move, its unlikely hell still be there in 12 months time.
Francesco Caputo scores goals. Pass it on.
Until last season, Caputo was a couple of years away from being known as a nearly man, plying his trade in the lower leagues of Italian football, but never quite having the quality to be a success in the top flight.
In 2017/18, the Italian forward scored 26 goals in 41 matches to help Empoli gain promotion to Serie A, and the 32-year-old bagged another 16 the following season, as his side attempted to escape the drop.
Unfortunately, Caputo and Empoli were unable to avoid relegation, but their top scorer secured a deserved move to Sassuolo, where he has already opened his account for the coming season. The Italian Teemu Pukki is on course for another great year amongst Serie As elite.
Nikola Milenkovic vs Juventus42 passes81% pass accuracy1 dribble won2 tackles won1 interception5 clearances4 aerials wonSolid as a rock. One of Serie A best defenders. pic.twitter.com/ntYszJEv8M
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) 14 September 2019
Nikola Milenkovics time at Fiorentina has coincided with a very tough period in the Violas history. The death of leader and captain Davide Astori in 2018 shook the club to its very core, but amongst all the pain and suffering, there is hope in Florence.
Milenkovic is proving to be one of the most consistent and capable centre-backs in Serie A, and despite Fiorentinas wretched run of form in 2019, the Serbian defender remains a beacon of hope for Vincenzo Montellas side.
Fiorentinas fortunes will undoubtedly improve, and with that Milenkovic will flourish into the player he has threatened to become for the last couple of years.
All the talk at Roma is around a young trequartista called Nicolo Zaniolo, but the fact is the young starlet has been pushed out to the right-wing to accommodate this baller.
Lorenzo Pellegrini has flattered to deceive during his second spell at Roma, but the 23-year-old is finally coming into his own under new manager Paulo Fonseca. Pellegrini bagged a hat-trick of assists against Sassuolo in Romas most recent domestic game, and demonstrated an eye for a pass which a certain Francesco Totti would be proud of.
Born and bred in Rome, we may be witnessing the coming of age of the new heir to the Stadio Olympico throne.
Okay, maybe youve heard of this guy, but youre gonna hear a whole lot more about him in the future - trust me. Stefano Sensi was a standout performer in the Sassuolo midfield last season, and earned himself a move to Italian giants Inter for the 2019/20 campaign.
His energy and box-to-box style makes him a force to be reckoned with in the centre of the park, and Sensis ability to pick a shrewd pass and keep possession makes him invaluable to his side.
Stefano Sensi much more dynamic than peak Xavi. So much to his game. He’ll be regarded as world class in a couple of months.
— IG (@CatenaccioIG) September 14, 2019
Plenty to come from this rising star of Italian football.
Whack out YouTube guys and girls, and strap yourselves in. This man is magic. Its not often you come across a 62" trequartista with the touch and balance of an angel, but Josip Ilicic has all of that and more.
On his day, Ilicic is the most talented and destructive force outside of the top two or three Serie A sides, but therein lies the problem. The 31-year-old can be incredibly frustrating at times, flitting in and out of games without any real impact.
But when the Slovenian attacker is on song, the world dances to his tune. Ilicic has got everything in his locker: an array of inconceivable passes, tricky dribbling and a wand of a left foot, which can win a game in the blink of an eye for Atalanta.
A mercurial talent, watch him whilst you have the chance.