Serie A 2011/12 - Ten Players to Watch

This quick-fire guide to ten stars of Serie A to keep an eye on this season is an unexpected gift to TFK readers. Read and savour every word." rel="attachment wp-att-2494]


Club: AC Milan
Position: Striker
Age: 29

The giant Swede goes for his 8th tile in a row this season. His presence in the Milan side is vital this coming season, Ibrahimovic is capable of winning matches at any juncture in a game. Blessed with supreme technical ability and a powerful build that would bully any defender, Ibrahimovic is the premier striker in world football today.

His early season form picked up valuable points for Milan enroute to the title, the no.11 popped with many wonderful goals that nobody in the game would be able to replicate, making him a unique and precocious talent. He will however want to start the season better than he ended it last year which was marred with disciplinary problems.


Club: Napoli
Position: Forward
Age: 26

“El Pocho” was granted an extended summer break as Napoli hope to have him firing on all his cylinders in what is a massive season for the Partenopei.

Blessed with a beautiful poise and balance on the ball, Lavezzi has become a god to the locals who romantically liken him to his Argentine counterpart and footballing legend Diego Maradona. The Argentine has struck up a fruitful partnership with Edison Cavani and Marek Hamsik, with the link-up play and fluid football unlocking defenders up and down the peninsula.


Club: AC Milan
Position: Centre back
Age: 26

Silva has established himself as the best centre back in the world in his two seasons at the San Siro. Blessed with supreme athleticism, as astute tactical brain and wonderful technical skills, the Brazilian could be world class in any position on the pitch.

Silva’s presence in the Milan defence with the veteran Alessandro Nesta is every bit as valuable for the Milanese giants as Ibrahimovic’s up top. Like most Brazilian defenders, Thiago Silva loves to step forward with the ball and nobody does it better.


Club: Fiorentina
Position: Central midfield
Age: 26

Montolivo has long been tipped as the man to lead the Azzurri midfield and last season was the first time he looked like living up to that billing. The midfielder brings a considerable degree of control and elegance to the midfield, he possesses a wonderful range of passing and awareness. He is also capable of getting beyond the defence and chipping it with the odd goal as he recently displayed expertly against Spain.

Hopefully Montolivo’s performance won’t be affected by ongoing issues with the club. Montolivo, in the final year of his contract is refusing to sign a new one and has been stripped of the captaincy as a result. The Italian will also be looking for another solid season to cement his place in the national midfield.


Club: Inter Milan
Position: Winger
Age: 23

Alvarez is a summer signing from Velez Sarsfield and the winger is an exciting prospect. He will be looking to make a similar impact to that of his countryman Javier Pastore who took Serie A by storm in his 2 years in Italy.

Alvarez possesses wonderful dribbling ability, powerful running and a rocket of a left foot. Alvarez should also be a good fit with new manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s offensive 3-4-3 formation. Alvarez is able to play off either flank and is in particular very dangerous cutting in from the right onto his trusty left foot. Gasperini will empower a degree of freedom in him and with will be up the Argetine to make the most of it.


Club: Parma
Position: Attacking midfielder
Age: 24

Finally away from his damaging stint at Juventus, the “atomic ant” looked rejuvenated at Parma last season. Despite resembling a 12 year old in physical build Giovinco is well able to handle himself. Long been an underage star for the Azzurrini Giovinco finally brought that form to Serie A last season chipping in with 7 league goals.

Another facet of Giovinco’s game is his dead ball qualities, reminiscent of his former team mate Alex Del Piero. Giovinco’s artistry is not just limited to his set plays as he is as elusive and tricky a customer as you will find. His jinks and feints leave many defenders in a heap and will certainly stand out as one of the most exciting talents in the league this season. In an age where physicality has dominated football, it’s refreshing to see a talent like Giovinco shining.


Club: Juventus
Position: Forward
Age: 27

Vucinic leaves Rome for Turin and the Montenegrin will be eager to make up for a poor season last term. “Vuci” will return to his more natural position as a striker in Conte’s new look Juventus. Vucinic has all the qualities of a modern day striker – rangy, strong, quick, nice feet and capable of the spectacular. The problem that has followed him throughout his career is his streaky nature. One game he will be scoring audacious match winners, the next he can’t hit the target from 5 yards (we saw this side of Mirko too much last year).

Vucinic has started pre-season in impressive form for the old lady and following his divorce from Roma where he endured a troublesome relationship with the ultras, he will be looking to make up for lost time and at the very least deliver the Turin giants back in to Champions League football.


Club: Roma
Position: Goalkeeper
Age: 28

Roma may well have pulled off the bargain of the season this year in getting the Dutch international for a fee of just €6m. The ex-Ajax man is up there with the best keepers in the world, if not the best and with a rather shaky looking defence in front of him his presence could be worth up to 10 points to the Giallorossi.

Stekelenburg will replace the Brazilian’s Doni and Julio Segio who have been offloaded by new coach Luis Enrique. His cat-like reflexes and assured decision making have made the lack of interest in him this summer all the more surprising. The Giallorossi faitful will be thankful for this wonderful piece of business by Sabatini when the flying Dutchman is scraping goal bound shots away from his goal.


Club: Fiorentina
Position: Foward
Age: 21

Jovetic is the second Montenegrin in the list and that is some accomplishment for a nation with a population of just over 500,000. Curtailed by a cruciate knee ligament injury last season, the youngster saw no action. Despite his relative young age Jovetic plays like a seasoned veteran, his awareness and positional sense defy his age and despite his inactivity and rustiness, these key mental attributes won’t leave him.

Dropping off the striker, Jovetic’s role is much more about creating goals than scoring them and that he does with aplomb. Fiorentina are the dark horses in the league this season and the return of the Montengrin is not only a timely boost to his club but also to his nation who have surprised many with their strong showing in qualification thus far. A good showing this term will set the permed youngster up for a move to one of Europe’s more illustrious clubs next year, maybe even sooner.


Club: Roma
Position: Forward
Age: 34

No list about football talent would be complete without the footballing legend and unique talent that is Francesco Totti. The Roma talisman was written off in the early quarters of last season but by its conclusion he had almost single handedly brought Roma to Champions League football, whipping out a t-shirt proclaiming “the King of Rome is not dead” after late goals to purge Champions League rivals Udinese in April, the great man had made his point.

Alas it was not enough but Totti surpassed Roberto Baggio’s 206 goal tally in Serie A, a record even more remarkable in that he has spent most of his career creating chances than scoring then. It was a lesson that you should never right “Il Gladiatore” off. The legs may be weary but the brain and mind are still there and Totti is a once-off, lets enjoy him while we still can because there will never be another. A man who never seeks the headlines, who provides for his teammates and serves for his city and fans. He truly is the greatest.]Read the full story here

Great preview Totti. A shame Rocko didnt pick up on your deliberate spelling error in Francesco’s profile.