After something of a chaotic period immediately after the end of the season, things at Sampdoria seem to be settling down again. Riccardo Garrone acted quickly in appointing Domenico Di Carlo to fill the void left by the departures of Luigi Del Neri and Giuseppe Marotta to Juventus and, in doing so, stabilised a squad that looked on the verge of falling apart.
In Di Carlo, Garrone has acquired an exciting young Coach whom he believes will be able to work with this Sampdoria squad to prepare for the season ahead. In terms of transfers, his will be to keep the core of the squad together by fending off interest in the likes of Giampaolo Pazzini and Angelo Palombo. Garrone has laughed off speculation surrounding Juventus’ interest in Pazzini, putting a €100m price tag on the striker. The club have been equally defiant in the cases of Palombo, Antonio Cassano and Andrea Poli with director general Sergio Gasparini recently stating: “Sampdoria will not be selling. On Pazzini, Cassano and Palombo there are no deals.”
Nothing could be done, however, to prevent the departure of custodian Marco Storari to Juventus but the return of Vincenzo Fiorillo – one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Serie A – from a loan spell with Reggina is sure to soften the blow.
While Garrone and Di Carlo have done well to keep the squad together thus far, there is a worrying lack of European experience. With the exception of Cassano, there is only a smattering of UEFA Cup and Europa League appearances in the side. Cassano is already the creative hub for Samp and Di Carlo will not want to pile more responsibility on to the back of the notoriously temperamental forward and so will likely look to bring in some support.
Rafael van der Vaart and Sebastian Giovinco have been mentioned and both would represent good business for i Blucerchiati. Van der Vaart is an experienced Champions League campaigner who likes to play a creative role and while Giovinco has only 10 European appearances to his name, his creativity and threat from range would be an excellent addition to an already strong Sampdoria midfield.
Lining up in the centre of midfield will be club captain Angelo Palombo partnered by the young star Andrea Poli. Garrone has worked hard to retain both players and will look to them to continue where they left off last season. Despite his successful loan spell, Stefano Guberti is likely to return to his parent club Roma with his replacement likely be the returning Vladimir Koman, fresh from a successful season with Bari.
Defensive loan signings Luciano Zauri and Marco Rossi could both exit the club leaving them in need of defensive reinforcements. There have also been rumours regarding a possible move to Liverpool for Swiss left-back Reto Ziegler but Garrone is unlikely to sanction his sale. Alongside Ziegler, Daniele Gastaldello and Stefano Lucchini will continue their excellent partnership at the heart of the defence. Back up for the first choice is required and will probably arrive in the form of more loan signings.
Whoever they may be, the reinforcements will be fully aware of how important a season this is for Sampdoria. The draw for their Champions League play-off takes place on August 6 with the first leg scheduled for August 17 or 18, signalling the start of what will be a long, hard year. While progression to the Champions League group stage will provide a welcome financial bonus, it also means at least six more fixtures in an already congested season.
In between their European encounters, Sampdoria will look to maintain their impressive league form from last season. They must defend the fourth Champions League spot in the face of renewed challenges from Napoli and Palermo, a revitalised Juventus under Del Neri and a new look Fiorentina side. Whether what is a fairly small Samp squad can stand up to the rigours of competing on three fronts remains to be seen. What is certain is that the squad possesses all the necessary quality to impress in both domestic and European competition this term. Whatever may happen, it is sure to be an interesting season for i Blucerchiati.