By Frank Risorto
Trends and patterns are starting to emerge across the Serie A after the first five matchdays (Allegri looks angry, Bologna can’t defend, Fiorentina love a long pass and Inter are flat track bullies) and some players are exceeding expectations.
It’s always best to keep it simple, so using an old tried and trusted formula, sticking to ‘buy, sell and hold’ let’s see what we can make of some strong starts to the 21–22 season.
With a small sample size, we can’t afford to overreact to the stats but let’s look at those who have quietly gone under the radar, from the experienced veteran to a Serie A newcomer.
The Brazilian has once again had a superb opening month, like last season, getting off to a strong start for la Granata.
The 24-year-old, now in his fourth season with Torino, has become something of a statistical and analytical darling for those familiar with their X’s and G’s.
Interceptions (3 per game) are at an almost league high, defending intensity, clearances and blocks are all near league highs for the left sided central defender, known as some to Gleison Bremer Silva Nascimento.
The powerful Brazilian, who’s known to look towards Lucio and Carlos Gamarra for inspiration, has improved year on year in Italy yet in his previous seasons his game has tapered off as Torino’s season has spiralled.
With new manager Ivan Juric running the show, Torino are aiming high and won’t be allowed to rest on their laurels, and neither will Bremer, aiming to add season long consistency to his game.
The defender, who scored five goals last season, has been linked to lucrative moves to England and Spain, joining the seven sisters and fighting it out for the highly rated Brazilian’s signature.
Antonio Candreva (Sampdoria)
The 34-year-old midfielder has continued his around-the-clock frustratingly glorious career this season at Sampdoria.
Candreva has provided the Samp faithful with moments of magic, the Empoli game — his assist for Francesco Caputo’s goal and wonder-strike against the Tuscans, in particular.
Despite having the odd unsuccessful touch against Inter and Sassuolo, Candreva has been able to draw fouls from the opposition, get involved in over half of Samp’s goals and maintain a successful high passing rate.
Including the ability to reliably provide his strikers with a pass in behind the defence to run onto from distance with the new focal point for Sampdoria, in the form of Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Caputo providing a channel for Candreva’s crosses and long passes, however will Candreva keep up this form all season long?
Since his debut with Udinese in 2007–08 Candreva has been rocks and diamonds, capable of magic one moment and then failing to control the simplest of passes another, but if he can, then Candreva may well be onto his way best Serie A season in terms of production (10 goals/13 assists — Lazio 2014–15), and just in time, at the ripe young age of 34 years-old.
Razvan Marin (Cagliari)
In his second season with the Sardinian side the 25-year-old Romanian has quietly gone about putting together a strong start for a poor Cagliari side.
For those who watch Cagliari regularly they’d be quick to see the Romanian can, and does, play a key role for Walter Mazzarri’s side.
Marin has already provided three in the first five games and is second in the league for key passes.
Linked with a move to AC Milan in the off-season, the midfielder has made the most of his opportunity at Cagliari after a quiet spell with Ajax.
If the self-confessed ‘half-wing’ can add more of a goal threat to his game he’ll go well onto his way to living up to his own expectations as told to Digi Sport last summer.
‘I want to play another year here in Cagliari, there were other Serie A teams interested in me, but I’m not in a hurry to leave, I want continuity and I want to have a great season!’
Jose Palomino (Atalanta)
Now in his fifth season in Bergamo the 31-year-old Argentinean has quietly squashed any concern the Atalanta faithful may have had over the departure of fellow countryman Cristian Romero.
Palomino, a one-time Bulgarian league champion, defensively has been a standout this season with league high stats across the board for central defenders.
Palomino finds himself across the first four games with near league-high interceptions, successful tackles, clearances, and blocks and mixed with his aerial ability is well on his way to following the Atalanta perfect signing trajectory.
Signed from Bulgarian side Ludogorets for €4 million, the left sided central defender is blessed with an innate ability to throw himself into tackles successfully, win countless aerial challenges, and somehow still avoid yellow cards, picking up only three yellows in 36 appearances last season.
Is this the season Palomino gets the recognition he deserves? Indeed, much to the blessing of La Dea herself!
Nahuel Molina (Udinese)
Another Argentinean quietly going about his business in Udine, this sounds vaguely familiar?
No such thing as second-season syndrome for Molina with a positive start, including finding the back of the net against Venezia and setting up countryman Ignacio Pussetto for his goal.
Molina has starred defensively in the first five matchdays averaging on two tackles, two interceptions and two clearances per game as well as a near 80 percent successful passing rate backing up his first season at Udinese (29 appearances, 2 goals, 7 assists).
The 23-year-old, who was a part of Argentina’s successful Copa America win earlier this year, is contracted to Udinese until 2026 and if he continues his fine form for a second season under the stewardship of Luca Gotti it won’t be long before he’ll be joining Rodrigo de Paul joining one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna)
Three Argentineans in a row!
Now in his third season at Bologna, Dominguez looks to be playing with a certain level of confidence and comfort level unseen in his first two seasons at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
Despite his managers pointless rotation of line ups, idea of culture, lack of tactical philosophy and defensive structure — Dominguez has gone on to become a regular starter for Bologna.
Dominguez’s ability to win the ball, make the difficult pass look easy, and mop up behind those further up the field and the Argentinean has not only been Bologna’s best in the opening month, but become absolutely crucial to Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side.
Returning to Italy with his confidence levels sky-high after being a part of Argentina’s Copa America squad, Dominguez’s value to Bologna will continue to increase on and off the field if his current form continues.
Notables who just missed the cut:
Andrea Cambiaso (Genoa) — BUY. Gianluca Basio (Venezia) — HOLD. Petar Stojanovic (Empoli) — HOLD. Mamadou Coulibaly (Salernitana) — HOLD. Simone Bastoni (Spezia) — BUY. Samir (Udinese) — SELL.
Thanks for reading and stay safe.