Serie A returns on Saturday with a tighter title race expected following Napoli’s charge to a historic triumph in May and another summer transfer window affected by a lack of funds at Italy’s elite clubs. AFP Sport picks out five new arrivals to watch in the 2023/24 campaign:
Marcus Thuram (Inter Milan)
Thuram follows in his father’s footsteps in moving to Italy and has serious attacking responsibility on his shoulders following his arrival at last season’s losing Champions League finalists as a free agent last month.
The 26-year-old was born in Parma where his father and France legend Lilian played for five seasons, winning the Uefa Cup and Italian Cup in 1999 as part of a star-studded outfit which also featured Italian icons Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro.
And with Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku both out the door this summer Thuram – who scored 16 times for Borussia Moenchengladbach last term – will be vying with soon-to-arrive Marko Arnautovic for a spot alongside Lautaro Martinez in Inter’s front two.
Christian Pulisic (AC Milan)
USA star Pulisic has some familiar faces from Chelsea at AC Milan, joining Fikayo Tomori, Olivier Giroud and Ruben Loftus-Cheek at a club undergoing something of a facelift.
Icon Paolo Maldini was sacked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara in June, and a clutch of signings have come in following Sandro Tonali’s big-money switch to Newcastle United.
Surplus to requirements at Chelsea at the tender age of 24, Pulisic will be battling with Samuel Chukwueze for a spot on Milan’s right flank with Rafael Leao the star man on the left and veteran striker Giroud still set to lead the line.
Mateo Retegui (Genoa)
Retegui has got off to a fast start at newly-promoted Genoa following his move from Boca Juniors last month, bagging a brace in Friday’s exciting 4-3 Italian Cup win over Modena.
Argentina-born Retegui will make his Serie A debut against Fiorentina on Saturday as he attempts to nail down the Italy striker role, a position which could now be up for grabs following the shock resignation of coach Roberto Mancini.
The 24-year-old scored twice, against England and Malta, in his first three matches for Italy after opting to play for the Azzurri earlier this year, and is aiming to keep his place up front for Euro 2024 next summer.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (AC Milan)
Another Chelsea player to choose Milan as the place to revive his career, England international Loftus-Cheek moves to the San Siro as a replacement for Tonali and is aiming to become a key figure after years on the fringes.
Loftus-Cheek broke into Chelsea’s first team from the academy system in 2014 but despite being fleet of foot and possessing both strength and technique he never became a fixture for his boyhood club.
He now follows the path of fellow Blues academy graduate Tomori in taking up a central position for one of Europe’s grand old clubs who reached the last four of last season’s Champions League but put up a limp defence of their Serie A title.
With contract extensions for league title-winning stars Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia likely to be announced soon, Napoli’s main problem was to find a replacement for Kim Min-jae following the South Korea defender’s departure to Bayern Munich.
In his place alongside Amir Rrahmani comes Natan from Red Bull Bragantino in Brazil, the imposing 22-year-old now charged with doing what Kim himself did last season – make Napoli fans forget about the loss of a much-loved centre-back –SuperSport.