Serie A Players to Watch During the 2020/21 Season

Victor Osimhen
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen is one of several young talents in Serie A this season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Sometimes it’s hard to defend the quality of Serie A when Juventus have won the Scudetto every year since the 2011/12 season, Milan have fallen off the face of the footballing earth and some full backs from Italy still play like it’s the 1990s.

Those preconceptions are starting to get a little dated, however. The Italian top flight has suddenly got a lot more interesting; Juventus must defend their title against a rebuilt Inter with a largely inexperienced Andrea Pirlo as manager, Atalanta have ascended to the top of the league and managed a third place finish last season, and even Milan seem like they just might be on the up.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-INTERFBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-INTER
Juventus narrowly edged past Inter to retain Serie A last season, but didn’t look near their best | VINCENZO PINTO/Getty Images

There’s also a huge crop of talent within the Italian top flight as of now. From established superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to young up and comers like Franck Kessie, Achraf Hakimi and more.

There’s plenty to be keeping an eye on throughout Serie A this season – here’s a list of players who could enjoy a standout campaign…

Manuel LocatelliManuel Locatelli
Locatelli impressed on the big stage during his national team debut | BSR Agency/Getty Images

At just 22, Manuel Locatelli has already been through the motions when it comes to moving around clubs.

The midfielder was on the books at Milan, but left on loan for Sassuolo during the 2018/19 season following the arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko and would sign permanently for the club last season.

It’s proved to be the making of him, however, as the Italian has excelled with more game time and a more central role. He made four assists from a predominantly defensive midfield role last season, but is also competent in moving the ball forward.

He made his senior Italy debut in the Nations League against the Netherlands earlier this month, and looked like a seasoned veteran. He’ll be back at a major Italian side in no time.

Nicolo BarellaNicolo Barella
Barella will be vital in Inter’s title charge next season | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Barella moved to Inter on a loan deal with an obligation to buy from boyhood club Cagliari last season, and hasn’t looked back since.

He was a trusted member of Antonio Conte’s midfield last season, making 41 appearances in all competitions and impressing wherever he was deployed.

A shrewd dribbler with a solid range of passing, Barella looks well rounded for just 23 years old. He’s got four goals in 14 appearances for the senior Italy team and is working his way towards being the nation’s next big star.

After two loan spells with Parma either side of a permanent transfer to Juventus, 20-year-old Dejan Kulusevski looks set to jostle for a spot in the first-team in Turin.

With Andrea Pirlo now in the hot seat and Juve in dire need of some youth injected into the side, the winger could be a breakout star. 10 goals and nine assists in a mid-table Parma side last season is proof that he’s up for the challenge.

It won’t be easy breaking into an attack which includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, but it’s time to pull the trigger. Kulusevski will reward Pirlo for putting trust in him.

Remember him?

Since swapping Manchester City for Madrid, things haven’t gone quite to plan for Brahim Diaz. Not through much fault of his own, but more so because Real Madrid sometimes have a desire to waste their young, upcoming crop of talent. Go figure.

Diaz is still only 21 and while he hasn’t had much chance to prove himself at senior level in the past 12 months, watching him at the Rossoneri will be intriguing. Milan need Diaz just as much as Diaz needs Milan, making this a match made in heaven – on paper.

The Spaniard has the tools to help with Milan’s revival.

Moving across town to the blue side of Milan, Achraf Hakimi seemingly has it all to prove once again after being shown the door in Madrid.

The right back didn’t really put a foot wrong during his two-year loan at Borussia Dortmund, but now has a £36m price tag on his head and the world’s eyes on him.

Hakimi looks wise beyond his ears for just 21 and is the perfect modern full back. The pressure is on Conte’s Inter to push for a Scudetto this season, and its up to Hakimi to rise to the occasion, having failed to land a league title in Germany.

Victor OsimhenVictor Osimhen
It’s hard not to get excited about watching Victor Osimhen this season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Victor Osimhen’s move to Napoli has somehow gone under the radar, despite him costing Gli Azzuri a club-record €70m, which could even rise to €81.3m according to reports.

It makes the 21-year-old the most expensive African player of all time, meaning there’s no time for a slow settling in process.

Osimhen is an incredibly composed finisher for his age, and bagged two hat-tricks in his first two appearances for the club in pre-season. If that doesn’t make him one to watch, then nothing will.

For the first time in years, Milan actually look to have made forward strides as a club.

Of course, it’s all about if they can deliver on the pitch, but their transfer business this summer has given them the tools to do so. Swooping highly-rated Italian Sandro Tonali on a loan with an option to buy from Brescia.

The 20-year-old already operates like a Rolls Royce – or a Ferrari, to keep the Italian theme – as a gracious yet hard working midfielder, and was set to be picked up by either Juventus or Inter, before the Rossoneri came calling.

He picked up a goal and seven assists from deep in a relegated Brescia side. Milan must make good on his arrival this season; he’s destined for the top.

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