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The Scudetto Challengers

Juventus under new manager Maurizio Sarri are going for a record nine league titles in a row, but for the first time in several years, there will be multiple rivals chasing Juventus for the Scudetto this season.

We take a look at the Champions, and the sides we feel could mount a title challenge.

Juventus
Manager: Maurizio Sarri

Transfers in: Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, £76m), Danilo (Manchester City, £33m), Cristian Romero (Genoa, £23m), Luca Pellegrini (AS Roma, £20m), Merih Demiral (Sassuolo, £16m), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal, free), Gianluigi Buffon (PSG, free), Adrien Rabiot (PSG, free)

Transfers out: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City, £58m), Leonardo Spinazzola (AS Roma, £26m), Moise Kean (Everton, £24m), Emil Audero (Sampdoria, £18m), Stefano Sturaro (Genoa, £15m), Riccardo Orsolini (Bologna, £13.5m), Alberto Cerri (Cagliari, £8.1m), Andrea Favilli (Genoa, £6.3m), Rogerio (Sassuolo, £5.4m), Leonardo Mancuso (Empoli, £4.5m), Luca Marrone (Hellas Verona, £900,000), Luca Pellegrini (Cagliari, loan), Cristian Romero (Genoa, loan)

Last season: Champions

Winning almost felt too easy for Juventus last year and it got the club’s hierarchy thinking. Winning is great, but they want to do it with a more attractive – and ultimately sellable – brand of football.

And so they turned to Chelsea to poach Maurizio Sarri having been left impressed by the work he did in Naples before heading to the Premier League.

The chain-smoking former Empoli boss could not be further from the slick, clean-cut figure of Massimiliano Allegri, who departed after leading the club to its eighth successive Serie A crown.

So is it style over substance? Can Sarri imprint his ‘Sarriball’ philosophy on a group that had a borderline win-at-all-costs mentality? Managers who go against the grain in Turin often find roadblocks they cannot move.

Take Gigi Maifredi in the early 1990s. Managing a team that including the great Roberto Baggio, his desire to imprint his philosophy on his players saw Juventus fall flat and within no time he was gone.

Juventus will want Sarri to hit the ground running, quelling any talk in the club’s vociferous Curva Sud that he mirrors Maifredi.

With Cristiano Ronaldo still leading the line and Paulo Dybala remaining an option after seeing moves to Tottenham and Manchester United collapse earlier this month, the Old Lady still has a side that is the envy of all their rivals.

INTER
Manager: Antonio Conte

Transfers in: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, £73m), Valentino Lazaro (Hertha Berlin, £20m), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo, £18m), Ionut Radu (Genoa, £10.8m), Eddie Salcedo (Genoa, £7.2m), Gabriel Brazao (Parma, £6m), Lucien Agoume (Sochaux, £4m), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid, free), Nicolo Barella (Cagliari, loan), Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo, loan)

Transfers out: Zingo Vanheusden (Standard Liege, £11m), George Puscas (Reading, £7.2m), Marco Sala (Sassuolo, £4.5m), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino, £2.25m), Nicholas Rizzo (Genoa, £2.25m), Rey Manaj (Albacente, £1.8m), Ivan Perisic (Bayern Munich, loan), Ionut Radu (Genoa, loan), Andreaw Gravillon (Sassuolo, loan), Yann Karamoh (Parma, loan), Michele Di Gregorio (Pordenone, loan), Gabriel Brazao (Albacete, loan), Marco Pompetti (Sampdoria, loan), Samuele Longo (Deportivo La Coruna, loan), Xian Emmers (Waasl-Beveren, loan), Matteo Rover (Sudtirol, loan), Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari, loan), Andrea Pinamonti (Genoa, loan), Alessandro Mattioli (Modena, free), Miranda (JS Suning, free)

Last season: 4th

An Inter side created with a former Juventus visionary at the helm, the Nerazzuri have gone from nearly-men to legitimate title challengers in a single summer.

Last season under Luciano Spalletti was by no means a disaster of Fiorentina proportions, but the gap to champions Juventus appeared to be getting bigger, not smaller.

And so in came Conte, and with it his preferred 3-5-2 which got plenty of action during his time at both Juventus and Chelsea. Diego Godin, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella, Valentino Lazaro and Romelu Lukaku represent high-quality additions and Conte has rid the squad of players he felt would not ‘buy-in’ to his incredibly demanding regime.

The arrival of Godin on a free feels particularly significant. Built physically and mentally to deal with the demands of Italian football, he will be part of what is arguably the greatest defence in the division alongside Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar.

But Conte’s inability to so far shift exiled forward Mauro Icardi remains the one black mark against him and the club chiefs this summer.

Conte is a proven winner and in Lautaro Martinez and Lukaku, with Barella in behind, the team has plenty of firepower. While this side will be given time to gel before going full-tilt next season for the title, Inter do not need to be told they have a serious shot at the Scudetto crown this time round.

NAPOLI
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Transfers in: Kostas Manolas (AS Roma, £32m), Alex Meret (Udinese, £20m), Eljif Elmas (Fenerbahce, £15m), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Empoli, £7.2m), David Ospina (Arsenal, £3m), Orestis Karnezis (Udinese, £2.25m), Michael Folorunsho (Francavilla, £900,000), Eugenio D’Ursi (Catanzaro, £900,000), Luigi Liguori (Bari, free)

Transfers out: Amadou Diawara (AS Roma, £19m), Carlos Vinicius (Benfica, £15m), Raul Albiol (Villarreal, £4.5m), Roberto Insigne (Benevento, £1.4m), Igor Lasicki (Pogon Szczecin, £180,000), Roberto Inglese (Parma, loan), Alessio Zerbin (Cesena, loan), Filippo Costa (Bari, loan), Gennaro Tutino (Hellas Verona, loan), Nikita Contini (Virtus Entella, loan), Franco Ferrari (Bari, loan), Eugenio D’Ursi (Bari, loan), Michael Folorunsho (Bari, loan)

Last season: 2nd

Having seemingly come so close to beating Juventus to the title in 2017-18, last season came as a real disappointment to Napoli.

The Neopolitans had gone from behind four points behind to 11 points just 12 months on and similar will not be tolerated in this campaign.

Consistency sides with Napoli while their rivals find themselves adapting to the demands of new managers in Sarri and Conte.

Ancelotti has evolved a 4-4-2 system which is built on the defensive foundations set by star man Kalidou Koulibaly. Already one of the finest defenders in Europe, pairing him with Roma’s Kostas Manolas this summer really is a stroke of genius.

Links to Mauro Icardi continue to gather pace before the close of the window but Arkadiusz Milik is, for now at least, the man expected to deliver the goals.

While a lot of fans thought 2017-18 was their best chance to overthrow Juventus, this campaign really does seem like Napoli’s greatest opportunity to dethrone the Old Lady.

Predicted Final Standings:
1. Juventus
2. Inter
3. Napoli