After narrowly missing out on fourth place to Sampdoria, the Rosanero will once again be targeting a Champions League spot as the Zamparini revolution marches on.
Last Season: It was a campaign of two half’s, or rather, two head-coaches. After poaching Walter Zenga from arch-rivals Catania there was a sense of optimism around North Sicily. This sense of buoyancy was quickly deflated as Zenga was fired after only 13 games. In came Delio Rossi, who integrated the clubs youngsters into the first team, which quickly turned their fortunes around on the back of a marvellous home record.
2010 summer transfer campaign: The clubs failure to make the Champions League, meant that the Rosanero where resigned to losing star players such as Simon Kjaer. The Danish international followed in the footsteps of other first XI players such as Cavani and Simplicio who left the club for Napoli and Roma respectively. In search of potential replacements Zamparini has continued his tendency to look towards young players and has signed the talented teenage central defender Munoz from Boca, along with Swiss teenage midfielder Kasami. The young duo are part of Palermo’s long term strategy and are unlikely to be thrust in to the starting line-up straight away. This has led to coach Rossi asking for first-team ready signings, thereby not relying on last year’s back-ups.
The Coach: Delio Rossi was the catalyst for Palermo’s resurgence last season and will be hoping to carry that into this season as well. He favours a diamond formation and puts a lot of faith in his younger players, which served him well in the last campaign.
Anchorman: Salvatore Sirigu established himself under Rossi last season as the No 1. Only 23, he has been hailed as the new Gigi Buffon, which hasn’t hindered him yet. He organises the defence well and is a fantastic shot-stopper. Sirigu represents the future of Italian goalkeeping. He could be integral part of the Sicilian clubs challenge for honours this season.
Playmaker: The clubs rejection of Real Madrid’s £25m bid for Javier Pastore could prove to be the shrewdest piece of business in Serie A this summer. He is the heartbeat of Palermo’s creative flow. Playing at the top of the diamond he can distribute and finish with equal aplomb. It was a real coup to keep him at the Renzo Barbera this season.
Hot Prospect: A reason why Cavani may not be such a big loss is that his fellow countryman Abel Hernandez looks more than capable of filling his shoes. He is more of a natural finisher than Cavani but is still not as polished, as you would expect from a relative youngster.
2010/11 prediction: With big money sales of Kjaer and Cavani, there is cash to spend and a significant amount of time before the transfer window closes. The Rosanero have yet to strengthen their squad and it is looking increasingly likely that they will look towards their youngsters to fill the void left by their high profile departures. A good start to the season will be crucial if they are to be successful in their quest for Champions League football. But unless they sign a solid centre-half and an accomplished right midfielder they will be destined for Europa League football once again.
Football Italiano’s prediction: 6th