1. Arthur Melo – FC Barcelona to Juventus FC – €72 million
It has been a summer of upheaval at Juventus FC. Despite clinching a 9th straight Serie A title last campaign, a disappointing last sixteen exit to Olympique Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League saw manager Maurizio Sarri shown the door by the club hierarchy. Former Juve playing hero Andrea Pirlo has been named Sarri’s replacement, promoted up from the club’s reserve side without even managing them in a game. The pressure is on Pirlo to deliver, likewise, it also falls onto the shoulders of the club’s big summer signing Arthur Melo.
The 24 year-old Brazilian arrived at FC Barcelona in the summer of 2018 with a strong reputation from Brazilian giants Gremio. However, his two seasons in Catalunya with Barca were gradually considered a disappointment. Melo has therefore been moved on by the Catalan club and Juve is his new club, as part of the deal that takes Miralem Pjanic from Juve to Barca. Faced with intense competition for a starting central midfield berth at the Turin outfit, can Melo win a place in the midfield and then fulfil at last the potential he showed pre-Barca in his homeland.
2. Achraf Hakimi – Real Madrid to FC Internazionale – €40 million
2019/20 will go down as a “what could have been” campaign for FC Internazionale. Antonio Conte’s team finished runners-up to champions Juventus, however, the margin was only one point, Inter ruing many a missed opportunity to have won a first Scudetto since 2009/10. After some speculation that Conte would leave at the campaign’s close, the 51 year-old has opted to remain at San Siro in a bid to land Inter a Scudetto in 2020/21. Inter’s big name summer signing for 2020/21 could prove a vital component in their bid to finally dethrone Juventus, Achraf Hakimi.
A Real Madrid youth academy product, the Spanish-born Moroccan spent the last two years out on loan at Borussia Dortmund from the Spanish capital outfit. 2019/20 was Hakimi’s breakthrough campaign as he noted 5 goals and 10 assists in 33 Bundesliga matches as BVB finished runners-up to Bayern Munich. However, with the 21 year-old’s path to the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu blocked by the consistently impressive Dani Carvajal, Hakimi opted to sign for Inter for €40 million to continue playing regular first-team football. Hakimi’s stats from last campaign should prove a perfect fit for the right wing-back role in Conte’s 3-5-2 formation at Inter.
3. Vedat Muriqi – Fenerbahce SK to SS Lazio – €20 million
2019/20 saw another impressive campaign from SS Lazio. The Roman outfit finished 4th in Serie A, qualifying for the Champions League for 2020/21. It was of course a season which could have been much more. Alquilotti were of course right on Juventus’ coattails in the race for the title just before the Covid pandemic hit. The restart’s congested calendar though with games every 3 or 4 days and a small squad eventually killed off their challenge.
In a bid to continue their impressive progress under manager Simone Inzaghi, Lazio have dipped into the transfer market to strengthen their squad by signing Vedat Muriqi from Turkish giants Fenerbahce SK for €20 million. The 26 year-old Kosovan striker scored an impressive 17 goals in 36 games in all competitions for Fener last campaign and should add strength in depth to Lazio’s striking options which of course include the ever-impressive Ciro Immobile.
4. Aleksey Miranchuk – FK Lokomotiv Moscow to Atalanta BC – €14.5 million
Serie A’s most talked about side in 2019/20 were without question Atalanta BC. The Bergamo outfit took both Italy and Europe by surprise surpassing their already impressive 2018/19 campaign, replicating their 3rd placed finish in Serie A and reaching the Champions League Quarter Finals. With 98 goals in their 38 games, Atalanta were only surpassed for goals by Manchester City in European football’s major leagues and already anticipation is building as to whether La Dea can improve further in 2020/21.
The club’s major summer signing was a man in demand this summer, Aleksey Miranchuk. The 24 year-old Russian attacking midfielder has for the last 4 seasons been a regular at Lokomotiv Moscow, constantly impressing and improving with each passing campaign. 2019/20 was Miranchuk’s major breakthrough, however, as he noted 16 goals and 5 assists for the Railroaders in all competitions including two goals against Juventus in the Champions League. Beating AC Milan to Miranchuk’s signature has been hailed as a real coup by Atalanta, who paid a reported €14.5 million to Lokomotiv. Can Miranchuk now step up a level and live up to the expectations?
5. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Arsenal FC to AS Roma – Free Transfer
In his first season in charge of AS Roma, Portuguese manager Paulo Fonseca achieved a solid, if not spectacular 5th placed finish, however, Giallorossi missed out on the Champions League places by 8 points. More pressure will be on Fonseca’s shoulders this season to deliver Champions League football for the passionate Roma fans in 2020/21, not least considering the club were recently taken over by American billionaire Dan Friedkin.
Despite a takeover by a wealthy entrepreneur, the irony is Roma’s first major transfer of the summer came on a free transfer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The 31 year-old Armenian may have endured an injury-plagued 2019/20 on loan from Arsenal, however, when he was fit, he did impress. In 30 games in all competitions, Mkhitaryan noted 9 goals and 5 assists. With Arsenal looking to shed their bloated payroll and the Armenian having impressed in the Italian capital, both parties agreed to the permanent transfer of Mkhitaryan to Roma on a free transfer. Can he continue his career renaissance in Rome in 2020/21?
6. Sandro Tonali – AC Milan – Loan with option to buy
Lying 12th in the standings just 6 games into 2019/20 under the new management of Marco Giampaolo, things looked bleak for AC Milan. However, Rossoneri dismissed Giampaolo, brought in Stefano Pioli as his replacement and some impressive winter window signings such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Saelemakers saw Milan finish an eventual 6th place. Pioli has been kept on for 2020/21 and will be targeting a top four finish with Milan this campaign.
Rossoneri’s big summer signing is already being hailed as a huge coup on the red and white half of Milan, especially considering Milan beat out city rivals Inter for his signature, Sandro Tonali. The 20 year-old defensive midfielder has long been touted as a possible star of the future in Italian football circles and after making 89 appearances for first club Brescia in both Serie B and Serie A over the last four seasons. Already capped three times at senior level for the Italian national team, Tonali joins Milan on an initial one year-loan for a loan fee of €10 million with the option to make the transfer permanent next summer.
7. Victor Osimhen – OSC Lille to SSC Napoli €70 million
2019/20 was a season of mixed contrasts for SSC Napoli. The Neapolitans finished a below-par 7th in Serie A, missing out on Champions League qualification for 2020/21. However, as a strong consolation prize, Napoli won the Coppa Italia beating hated rivals Juventus in the final. It was also a campaign which saw a managerial change with Carlo Ancelotti being replaced halfway through by Gennaro Gattuso, who many feel was harshly shown the door at previous club Milan after a 5th placed finish with Rossoneri in 2018/19.
Gattuso begins his first full season at the helm in Naples with one of the hottest striking prospects in European football at his disposal, Napoli’s big summer signing, Victor Osimhen. The 22 year-old Nigerian striker enjoyed a fine breakthrough 2019/20 campaign at OSC Lille in France’s Ligue 1, noting 18 goals and 6 assists in 38 games in all competitions for Les Douges. Having been efficient with moving on squad players which has netted them over €100 million in sales, Napoli have used a large portion of this income to bring Osimhen to Stadio San Paolo for €70 million. Can the youngster continue his remarkable upward trajectory in Italy?
8. Weston McKennie – FC Schalke 04 to Juventus FC – Loan with option to buy
The final summer transfer to watch in Serie A comes once more courtesy of champions Juventus. Many are citing 2020/21 as the year where La Vecchia Signora’s hegemony over the rest of Italy will cease. Rookie manager Andrea Pirlo must hit the ground running from the off or question marks over his controversial appointment following the sacking of Maurizio Sarri will only intensify.
With Rodrigo Bentancur, Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot, Sami Khedira and new arrival Arthur Melo already occupying central midfield positions at the club, Juve showed that they were not finished when it comes to acquiring players for this position by signing Weston McKennie from Schalke 04. The young 22 year-old American impressed in the last two seasons at Schalke, becoming a regular first team player for Die Knappen. In addition, the transfer is one of low-risk, high reward for Juve. McKennie joins on a season-long loan for a loan fee of €4.5 million which can automatically become permanent should certain conditions be met for €18.5 million. After impressing in Germany, can McKennie now step up a level and break into an already congested Juventus midfield as a regular?