As the race for the 2015/16 Serie A title heats up, it is clear from the current standings that the competition is far more competitive than it has been in recent seasons.
With monetary problems wreaking havoc on many of the league’s participants in recent years, Juventus were able to pull ahead of the pack, securing four consecutive titles. However, with the club now sitting in a lowly 13th place, with just four points in their first four games, it is clear that Serie A is beginning to recover.
However, one good thing that has come out of the lacking funds is the increase in youth prospects being given a chance in the first-team. A number of top young keepers are beginning to emerge, and these players, coupled with a few golden oldies, are bound to make this campaign interesting.
Here are three Serie A goalkeepers that could make all the difference this season: –
Mattia Perin – Genoa
Despite his young age, Perin is already a mainstay in the Genoa first-team, having made a massive 72 appearances for the club since moving up from the youth academy two years ago.
The keeper has already started to make a name for himself on the international stage, and if often tipped to replace the legendary Gianluigi Buffon when he eventually retired. The 22-year-old was the youngest player selected in Cesare Prandelli’s World Cup 2014 squad, and it won’t be long until he is a regular in the Italy side, too.
The shot-stopper put in a string of phenomenal performances for the Serie A club last term, helping them to a sixth place finish, and it is unsurprising that he managed to catch the eye of Premier League clubs Arsenal and Liverpool. Thankfully for Genoa, no move materialised, but with another brilliant season on the cards, it won’t be long until he finds himself at one of Europe’s top clubs.
Daniele Padelli – Torino
Despite a promising start, the 29-year-old struggled to develop from a top prospect into a top keeper throughout the majority of his career. Since joining Torino in 2013, Padelli has finally blossomed, eventually becoming the club’s first choice and helping them to a reasonable 9th place finish last time out. It is hard to believe that he is the same man who managed just one game for Liverpool back in 2007 before being dropped indefinitely due to his poor performance.
The Italian came close to losing his first-team place at the end of last season, after scoring a ridiculous own goal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzkrADHKvzQ) which gifted Serie A rivals Empoli a 1-0 victory, but Torino will be glad they stuck by him during the early stages of this campaign.
The club have picked up a massive 10 points in their first four games, with Padelli conceding just four goals in the process. He appears to be entering his peak, and if he keeps up his performances between the sticks Torino could be in for a brilliant season.
Pepe Reina – Napoli
Given his brilliant goalkeeping abilities, it is unsurprising that Reina graduated from he same La Masia academy that oversaw the youth development of Barcelona stars like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Despite choosing to move away from Barcelona, Reina has since embarked on a trophy-laden career throughout Europe.
Now back at Napoli after a season with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, Reina could be just the man to take the club back into the Champions League, if not higher. The 33-year-old has bags of experience, having won a massive eight trophies throughout his career, including league titles in England and Germany, and Napoli will need plenty of it if they want to overtake the current Serie A champions.
While the Spaniard is certainly reaching the later stages of his career, it is often said that the peak age for a goalkeeper is around 33, so it will be interesting to see whether Reina can raise his game this season. After a season on the bench at Bayern, he will be desperate to show that he still has it. and if he does deliver then he could turn Napoli into genuine title contenders this season.