Picking a team of the season is always tricky, and one of the hardest parts is leaving out some of the players from smaller clubs that overachieved during the season, but still didn’t match the top performers at the top tier clubs.
So in addition to our team of the season, we’ve picked a ‘best of the rest’ XI to appreciate some of the lesser-known players in Italy’s top flight.
Given their performances at their smaller clubs, many of the players in this team will be moving over the summer, if they haven’t already. Hopefully most of them will continue their progression up the footballing ladder in Italy.
For me, ‘the rest’ in Italy excludes Juventus, Napoli, Roma, Inter, Fiorentina, Milan and Lazio. Though Milan and Lazio finished behind Sassuolo, they’re still big clubs and are massively underachieving. Though it’s unlikely that any of their players would make it in to either team of the season anyway.
If you think I’ve left anyone out, please leave a comment.
GK - Marco Sportiello (Atalanta)
Marco Sportiello had a brilliant 15/16 season, he kept 11 clean sheets in goal for Atalanta, who finished in 13th place.
The 24-year-old is likely to be subject of bids from some of Italy’s biggest clubs this summer, Napoli are one team interested in the stopper.
CB - Lorenzo Tonelli (Empoli)
Lorenzo Tonelli has already left Empoli for Napoli on the back of his excellent season for the Azzurri.
Twitter: Un benvenuto a Lorenzo Tonelli nel mondo Napoli #ADL https://t.co/UOdMIEKg8n (@ADeLaurentiis)
Tonelli played a major part in the brilliant first-half of the season that Empoli had, and while his side dropped off after the turn of the year, Tonelli was still solid.
CB - Francesco Acerbi (Sassuolo)
Francesco Acerbi is one of many success stories from Sassuolo this season and was very unlucky to miss out on a place in Italy’s Euro 2016 squad.
The 28-year-old was an immense defensive presence for the Neroverdi and even chipped in with four goals.
CB - Armando Izzo (Genoa)
Armando Izzo has already become one of Genoa’s key players at just 24-years-old.
A strong defender and good on the ball, Izzo has a lot of potential and Genoa will do well to keep hold of him this summer.
RM - Cristian Ansaldi (Genoa)
Cristian Ansaldi moving from Zenit to Genoa on-loan was a strange transfer last summer, but it turned out to be a great piece of business for the club.
Unfortunately he won’t be at the club next season but five assists in 24 appearances combined with his versatility made him a very important player for Gian Piero Gasperini.
A move to another club in Italy may be on the cards this summer after poor spells with Atlético Madrid and Zenit St. Petersburg.
CM - Fernando (Sampdoria)
Despite Sampdoria’s shocking season, Fernando is one player that can hold his head high following an exceptional debut season in Italy.
He’s naturally a defensive midfielder, but his game is a very well rounded one. He managed to grab four goals and three assists for the strugglers.
CM - Marten De Roon (Atalanta)
Like Fernando, Marten De Roon is primarily a defensive midfielder, though he still a capable technician.
His excellent reading of the game and tough tackling made him a key player for Atalanta this season after arriving for under £1 million from Heerenveen.
LM - Alejandro Gómez (Atalanta)
Alejandro Gómez is another Atalanta player who had a brilliant campaign in Serie A.
The diminutive winger scored seven and assisted seven in 34 appearances.
His tricky dribbling, low centre of gravity and willingness to run at defenders make him a difficult man to stop.
CAM - Riccardo Saponara (Empoli)
Riccardo Saponara’s form tailed off somewhat towards the end of the season, but the Empoli man still had a great 15/16.
He claimed five goals and 11 assists and on the back of his form will be leaving Empoli this summer, the destination is unknown yet, though.
ST - Leonardo Pavoletti (Genoa)
Leonardo Pavoletti missed a chunk of the season through injury, but the Genoa forward still managed to score 14 in 25 this season.
An aerial threat and a brilliant finisher, it’s likely that he’ll move on this summer. He’s unlucky to have missed out on Conte’s final 23 for the Euro’s.
ST - Cyril Théréau (Udinese)
Cyril Théréau has never been a prolific striker but this season he equalled his best ever Serie A goal tally with 11 league goals.
The 33-year-old’s goal tally becomes more impressive when you consider he scored 11 of the 35 goals Udinese scored across the whole season.
GK – Andrea Consigli (Sassuolo)
RB – Sime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo)
CB – Alessandro Gamberini (Chievo)
CM – Roberto Soriano (Sampdoria)
CM – Francesco Magnanelli (Sassuolo)
CM – Leandro Paredes (Empoli)
CM – Piotr Zielinski (Empoli)
ST – Andrea Belotti (Torino)
ST – Federico Dionisi (Frosinone)
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