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Serie A (for Average!): It’s a second-rate league with geriatric strikers, but that could all change


To understand the curious place of Italian football in the European game ecosystem, take a look at Lucas Paqueta’s move from Lyon to West Ham in August 2022.

The Brazilian playmaker cost the Hammers a club-record £53m – and Lyon weren’t the only ones to make a handsome sum. AC Milan had inserted a 15% sell clause when they allowed Paqueta to join Lyon for £17.5million two years earlier. So when Paqueta signed his five-year deal worth almost £40m at West Ham, Milan raised a handy £7.95m.

Stop and think about it for a moment. AC Milan, winners of seven European Cups (second behind Real Madrid), 19 Serie A titles and 23 other serious trophies, celebrated a deal that didn’t involve them directly to maintain a healthy record.

A deal carried by an English club who have won just four major titles and includes several ‘runners-up’ seasons and two Championship play-off successes on the honor roll on their club’s website.

In the natural order of football, surely it would be West Ham who would benefit from high profile transfers to Milan? Yet there can be no better example of how financial power dynamics have changed over the past three decades.

Serie A was once full of greats like Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit

But new Serie A champions Napoli show the league has fallen to the European order

But new Serie A champions Napoli show the league has fallen to the European order

With Milan and city rivals Inter contesting a Champions League semi-final, Juventus and Roma in the last four of the Europa League and Fiorentina at the same stage of the Conference League, Serie A could yet complete a clean sweep of European trophies this season. It’s hardly the performance of a sub-standard league and as this season has shown, there are some fine teams in Italy – new champions Napoli especially.

The depth and quality of national coaching is rightly a source of pride in Italy, where they are baffled that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are appointed to top positions largely because they were famous players. Under neutral conditions and with equal resources, Italian coaches would run in circles around their English counterparts.

Imagine Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti against Gerrard, or Lampard against Inter’s Simone Inzaghi. The same goes for smart sporting directors like Cristiano Giuntoli from Napoli, Pietro Accardi from Empoli or Piero Ausilio from Inter.

Once we step away from real football, however, Serie A is average at best, a joke at worst. As part of Mail Sport’s exclusive interview with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis two years ago, he was asked what Italian and English football can learn from each other. The answer was instructive. “We Italians are the ones who have to learn from the Premier League,” said De Laurentiis. ‘Not the opposite.’

There are over five billion reasons behind De Laurentiis’ answer. Only the NFL and the Indian cricketing Premier League generate more TV revenue than the Premier League, which confirmed in May 2021 that it would extend its £5.1billion TV deal until the end of the season 2024-25. Serie A’s last TV deal was worth £2.42 billion.

“Thanks to the changes in the 1990s, English football has become a real industry as well as a sport,” added De Laurentiis in this interview. “It is watched all over the world and generates more than any other league. This turnover means that even the smallest English clubs are more competitive than their counterparts elsewhere.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says Serie A must learn from the Premier League

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says Serie A must learn from the Premier League

Venues for Italy's top matches are rarely full and the game is unable to catch up

Venues for Italy’s top matches are rarely full and the game is unable to catch up

Huge TV deals mean huge salaries for world stars, and the visual spectacle of the Premier League – modern, crowded stadiums – attracts foreign owners of unimaginable wealth. In Italy, on the other hand, most rooms have not changed since their makeover for Italia 90. They are rarely full.

Everyone appreciates the problem, but petty jealousies and scoring at the heart of Italian football and politics means they haven’t been able to come up with a grand vision of how to catch up. Then there are the scandals: Calciopoli in 2006, Ultima Scommessa in 2011-12, the ongoing “Plusvalenze” affair. Make your choice.

Pages could be written on the motives and results of these events, but far more important is the wider effect. Who wants to seriously invest money in a league that has to deal with regular allegations of acute training or illegal behavior?

Scandals aside, the other three members of Europe’s top five leagues – Spain, Germany, France – are also dwarfed by the monetary powerhouse of the Premier League. Yet each of these competitions has its main selling point: Spain has Real Madrid and Barcelona; France Kylian Mbappe and – for now at least – Lionel Messi; Germany the best match experience on the continent. With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Juventus in 2021, Italy no longer have a USP to match.

The final problem facing Italy is perhaps the most surprising: lack of trust. A country so proud of its food, its fashion, its culture and its climate, Italy seems to have completely lost faith in its football.

Leicester's draw with Everton showed poor quality in English football's top flight

Leicester’s draw with Everton showed poor quality in English football’s top flight

Italian football can be put into action if AC Milan or Inter win the Champions League

Italian football can be put into action if AC Milan or Inter win the Champions League

Part of the Premier League’s success is a ride of confidence, where ‘The Best League in the World’ is now practically an official title.

Manchester City lose at home to Brentford and he is held up as an example of the top caliber across the division. If this happens in Italy, the fans and the media turn against their top clubs.

Some of the football in Leicester’s 2-2 draw with Everton on May 1 was so poor it was amazing to remember it was a top game, but we walked away, praising the ‘great product’ of the Premier League. The equivalent 90-minute action in Serie A would inspire days of turmoil over falling standards.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle, but until Italian football – winners of four World Cups and two European Championships – appreciate what it has and try to improve on it, progress will continue to grow. to be slow. A thrilling Milan derby and a win over Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final should be the spark they need.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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