Despite the financial issues due to the COVID pandemic, Serie A clubs managed to wrap up some smart deals. Martin Monk looks at the best 10 signings of the season.
10. Victor Osimhen
€70m from LOSC Lille to Napoli
The Nigerian powerhouse arrived as one of the most exciting signings last summer and has delivered great performances when healthy. The striker showed his potential in the Napoli attack, scoring 10 goals in 24 Serie A games, but the low number of appearances and high price-tag make it difficult to give him the top spots. The 22-year-old suffered a controversial injury while on international duty and then contracted COVID when on holiday in his homeland. But Osimhen is an extremely impressive player and would have made an even greater impact on an entertaining Napoli side had he been available for more games. Osimhen is a complete athlete with terrifying pace and physique. His presence next season could be invaluable for the new coach at the Stadio Diego Maradona.
9. Antonio Sanabria
€7m from Real Betis to Torino
The Paraguayan centre-forward was not an unfamiliar face for Serie A fans, and the 25-year-old joined Davide Nicola’s side for the second consecutive season, as he had spent one and a half years on loan at Genoa before joining Betis last summer. The former Roma and Sassuolo striker signed a four-year deal with the Granata and immediately made an impact to help Toro gain confidence in the relegation battle. The Paraguay international seemed to enhance the players’ performances around him too and finished the season with five goals in 14 games for struggling Torino. Last but not least, Sanabria scored a brace to salvage a point against Juventus. Perhaps, without him, Toro would not have been in Serie A still.
8. Mikkel Damsgaard
€6.75m from Nordsjaelland to Sampdoria
The young Denmark international made such a big impression in Serie A that he was linked with moves to Juventus, Inter and Tottenham in January. The left-winger played 35 league games under Claudio Ranieri and contributed to two goals and four assists in the process. He signed a four-year contract upon his arrival in September and has already doubled his market value after one season. He has been capped twice by Denmark, scoring two goals in the process. One to look out for also next season.
7. Maxime Lopez
Loan deal with option to buy for €2m from Marseille to Sassuolo
The French midfielder moved to Reggio-Emilia last summer and the short, quick passer was immediately implemented in Roberto De Zerbi’s style of play at the Mapei Stadium. The youngster, who was tagged as the new Samir Nasri early on in his career, showed his intelligence in the Sassuolo midfield, always finding the space to make himself available for his teammates. The 23-year-old played 29 times in Serie A in his first season and was heavily involved as Sassuolo started and finished the season extremely well. An exciting player.
6. Mattia Destro
Free transfer from Bologna to Genoa
The 30-year-old surprised everyone in his first full season with the Grifone and was one of the reasons the Rossoblu kept the relegation zone at arm’s length for most of the season. When Destro scored, Genoa wouldn’t lose. That was the case in 2020-21, at least until the 2-1 defeat to second-placed Milan in April, when he scored his side’s only goal. Destro, who had struggled to live up to the expectations in recent years, bagged 11 goals in 29 Serie A games this season and was one to count on for Davide Ballardini. He makes the list also because he joined the Grifone for free. A great deal.
5. Fikayo Tomori
On loan with an option to buy for €28m from Chelsea to Milan
The English defender was exactly what Milan needed last winter and the 23-year-old should get a permanent move after having impressed at the Rossoneri. Tomori played 17 League games in the second half of the campaign and carved out space, leaving captain Alessio Romagnoli on the bench since his arrival. The Chelsea loanee also scored in the important 3-0 win over Juventus to strengthen Milan’s position in the race for top four and the England international, capped once, played a crucial part in securing the Diavoli’s return to the Champions League.
4. Cristian Romero
Loan with option to buy for €18m plus bonuses from Juventus to Atalanta
The 23-year-old centre-back, who can also operate at right-back, has settled really well in Bergamo and quickly established himself in Gian Piero Gasperini’s defence at the Gewiss Stadium. The youngster was probably the most important signing for the Orobici last summer and continued to break up attacks like he had started doing at Genoa. Romero helped the Nerazzurri to another successful season, only missing out on a trophy, losing 2-1 to his former club in the Coppa Italia Final. The Argentine is a no-nonsense defender and some might say he picks up too many cards, but there’s no doubt he has the potential to grow even further in the coming years.
3. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Free transfer from Arsenal to Roma
The Armenia international terminated his contract with Arsenal last summer to make a permanent move to the Giallorossi and had an even better second season in the Italian capital. The 32-year-old’s future at Roma is uncertain now that Paulo Fonseca has been replaced by his former coach at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho, but the impact the attacking midfielder made in Serie A has only been positive. Mkhitaryan was one of the most important assets for Roma in a difficult season, chipping in with impressive 13 goals and 11 assists. Roma finished seventh in the table and played 11 games in the Europa League, where the Giallorossi eventually were eliminated by United in the Europa League semi-finals.
2. Federico Chiesa
Loan with obligation to buy up to €60m from Fiorentina to Juventus
Another controversial switch from Fiorentina to Juventus happened on transfer deadline day last October, as the deal was announced when the Italy international was leaving for international duty with Italy. The young winger never returned to Fiorentina and started a new chapter with the Old Lady, and he did not disappoint. Chiesa’s performances were one of the few positives to take from the Bianconeri’s season and the 23-year-old finished his first campaign at the Allianz Stadium with 14 goals and ten assists in 43 competitive games. One for the future.
€45m from Real Madrid to Inter
The Morocco international already had a great reputation when he arrived at San Siro from the Spanish giants. And the 22-year-old, who had impressed enough to secure a deal with the Nerazzurri just from his performances against them with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League 2019-20, was exactly what Antonio Conte needed. A speedy and technical right-back who can contribute on the counterattacks and who’s improved defensively under Conte. Hakimi scored seven goals and contributed nine assists in his 37 Serie A appearances with the Beneamata and has already proved to be one of the best wing-backs in Europe.