With the end of the summer transfer window, Football Italia previews the 2021-22 Serie A campaign and what to expect from Udinese. Words Louis Miller.
Despite the opening weekend’s 2 – 2 draw with Juventus and a 3-0 win over newly-promoted side Venezia, Udinese look set for another relegation dogfight this season.
UDINESE TRANSFERS IN
Padelli (G, Inter), Udogie (D, Verona), Silvestri (G, Verona), Samardzic (M, Lipsia), Perez (D, Atletico Madrid), Soppy (D, Rennes), Beto (S, Portimonense)
UDINESE TRANSFERS OUT
Prodl (D, out of contract), Ouwejan (D, Schalke), Bonifazi (D, Bologna), Musso (G, Atalanta), Gasparini (G, Legnago), De Paul (M, Atletico Madrid), Cristo Gonzalez (S, Valladolid), Palumbo (M, Juventus U23), Scuffet (G, Apoel Nicosia), Matos (S, Perugia).
WHAT TO EXPECT
The team is largely unimproved from the one that finished 14th last year (seven points above Benevento in 18th) and that is before taking into account the departures of Rodrigo de Paul and Juan Musso to Atletico Madrid and Atalanta, respectively.
De Paul, who impressed this summer when helping Argentina to the Copa America title, has been Udinese’s standout player over recent years, and Musso’s performances had caught the attention of champions Inter before moving to Bergamo. Marco Silvestri, brought in from Verona, and Daniele Padelli (who has sat on the bench at Inter in recent years) will have their work cut out in the Udinese net.
COACH – LUCA GOTTI
Luca Gotti has had greater success as an assistant than as a head coach over the course of his career. The Italian worked under Maurizio Sarri in the 2018-19 campaign at Chelsea, when they won the Europa League title, although Gotti’s team don’t play football similar to Sarriball.
He joined Udinese the following season as an assistant to Igor Tudor, until taking over in the hot seat in November 2019. The Italian’s side has struggled to inspire the fans with anything like the progressive football now adopted by many Serie A clubs. Instead, Udinese only managed 42 goals last season, with only relegated Parma and Benevento worse in the league. However, Gotti’s Udinese side has proved to be solid and organised through the years, so the Zebrette may not compete for a European spot, but they should remain safely away from the relegation zone.
CAPTAIN – BRAM NUYTINCK
The alarming lack of goals last season will mean Le Zebrette will need to keep things tight at the back if they wish to have any hope of surviving. Captain Bram Nuytinck is entering his fifth season at the club and the Dutch defender is expected to marshall the defence in the centre of a back three.
Ahead of his side’s opening game against Juve the Dutchman told DZAN, “It’s an honour to have the armband, although I don’t think that it will change anything in the way I work. I’ve always given everything for the team and the city, and I’m going to keep it up.”
Fans will hope their skipper is ever-present for Udinese, after he only managed to make 20 appearances in the league last season due to injuries.
PLAYER TO WATCH – ROBERTO PEREYRA
Former Juventus midfielder Roberto Pereyra will be Udinese’s player to keep an eye on as his side attempt to beat the drop. Pereyra, now in his second spell with the club, is a versatile, dynamic player who can play anywhere throughout the midfield, or occupy the space behind the striker.
The Argentine was second behind his compatriot De Paul for both goal and assists (five and seven) last season in Serie A. However, the former Watford man will hope players such as Gerard Deulofeu, Jens Stryger Larsen and Stefano Okaka will be able to lift some of the pressure felt by De Paul’s departure.