Season preview: Palermo – New-look Rossanero aiming for top four again

Last season:Palermo 2010-11 season review
The Squad: Palermo have been very active in the transfer market during the close season, with the focus on reconstructing a defence that was very leaky last season.
Having said this, the biggest moves have been players leaving the club, most notably the influential Javier Pastore, who has joined big-spending Paris St German for €34m. The French club have also signed the Rosanerro’s keeper Salvatore Sirigu and it is his departure that could prove more problematic. At the time of writing no replacement has been signed, although the Scicilian side are though to be interested in Chievo’s Stefano Sorrentino.
The club have made a major signing with the €7.3m transfer of Matias Silvestre from bitter rivals Catania. Last season Silvestre was seen as one of the best defenders in Serie A and so Palermo’s Vice President Guglielmo Miccichè was moved to say the club was lucky to sign him. Silvestre also grabbed six goals last season, more than any other defender, and he will be a leader, something the backline was missing last season. It means the end for Cesare Bovo however, who has joined Fiorentina.
Further defensive signings come in the form of Andrea Mantovani, who is following new coach Stefan Pioli from Chievo, as well Mauro Cetto from Toulouse, Eros Pisano from Varese and Luca Di Matteo from Vicenza.
Up front the club have signed promising youngsters Pablo Gonzalez, whose goals last season helped Novara to promotion, and Israeli Eran Zahavi, who already looks like a bargain.
Coach – Stefano Pioli: Ex-Chievo Coach Pioli has been brought with a brief to shore up a defence that was very weak last season. Pioli quit Chievo by mutual consent and had talks with Roma about the vacant post at the Stadio Olympico before joining the Rosanero. Unfortunately he has not had the most auspicious start to his time at the Renzo Barbera. Two draws against inferior Swiss team FC Thun saw Palermo crash out of the Europa League on the away goals rule at the first hurdle – the earliest any Italian team has gone out of European competition. They also conceded three goals in a hastily arranged friendly against Lega Pro 1st Divison team Trapani. However, Pioli is renowned as a defensive tactician and these results are perhaps symptomatic of the new Coach’s attempt to introduce a new style, as well as the fact there are so many new faces in the team, and not the fact a poor season is in store.
Player to look out for: The Rosanero have fought off the interest of several other teams to sign the exciting young Israeli Eran Zahavi who joined from Hapoel Tel Aviv. He has already formed a good understanding with Josep Iličić and at €1.7m could be a bargain replacement for Pastore.
Prediction: If they can find consistency, they will improve on last season, but will probably miss out on Champions League again.
Probable XI:

Cassani – Silvestre – Mantovani – Munoz
Balzaretti – Migliaccio – Nocerino
Illicic – Zahavi – Miccoli Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

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