Yet another great and exciting season from Serie A is behind us. I’ve already done a piece on the Serie A season awards, now it is time to look at the 2016-2017 Serie A Team of the Year.
Goalie: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan)
The 18-year old wonder goalie for Milan makes my Serie A Team of the Year. Sure, I could have gone with Buffon, but he had a far better defense and overall team playing in front of him than Donnarumma did. Milan finished in 6th place, with 63 points, and I don’t think that would have been possible without Donnarumma. He started every game this season and only allowed 3+ goals just four times. Buffon only allowed 3+ goals in two games this season, but played in 8 fewer league games. Donnarumma also recorded 12 clean sheets this season in Serie A.
Defenders: Alex Sandro (Juventus), Federico Fazio (Roma), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Andrea Conti (Atalanta)
Juventus conceded the fewest goals (28) in Serie A, so one member of their defense had to make the team. Alex Sandro was their best player in defense. This was the Brazilian’s second season at Juventus and he took his game to another level. Alex Sandro, like some of the other defenders that made this team, is great at contributing offensively as well. Federico Fazio was a big surprise to everyone. The former Tottenham defender solidified himself as Roma’s best defender this season. Fazio was extremely reliable for Spalletti, considering all the injures Roma dealt with in their defense. Fazio started every game this season except for one, and never got himself into card trouble. Two Atalanta defenders make the Serie A Team of the Year. Atalanta had a great, surprising season and Mattia Caldara and Andrea Conti were two key reasons why. Both were great at cutting out key passes, but they also made major contributions on the offensive side. Conti led all defenders in the top 5 leagues in goals with 8. His teammate, Caldara, was right behind him with 7 goals. Caldara was so great this season, that Juventus paid around €18 million for him back in January. Andrea Conti is drawing interest from several big clubs and Atalanta are asking for €20 million.
Midfielders: Marek Hamsik (Napoli), Jorginho (Napoli), Radja Nainggolan (Roma)
Napoli and Roma had tremendous seasons and their respective midfield talent was a key reason why. Hamsik and Jorginho both make my Team of the Year. Hamsik had a career season, scoring 12 goals (ties a career high) and 10 assists. Hamsik was among the four Napoli players to score 10+ league goals this season, a remarkable feat. Jorginho resurrected himself this season. Last year under Sarri, Jorginho took a step back and his future at the club seemed in doubt. This season, Jorginho was a key piece in everything Napoli did, he provided a link from the defense to their great attack. The Brazilian-Italian made numerous key passes, covered so much ground, and allowed for Napoli’s attack to flourish. Can’t talk about the Serie A Team of the Year without talking about arguably the best midfielder in the league; Radja Nainggolan. Roma sold Pjanic to Juventus this past summer, leaving a big void in their midfield. Nainggolan stepped up and made the Roma fans forget all about the Bosnian. Nainggolan set a career high in goals (11) and assists (5).
Attack: Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Edin Dzeko (Roma), Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Only fitting that the attack would be composed of players from Serie A’s top two goal scoring teams. Napoli scored 94 goals and Roma had 90, by far the most in Serie A. No other club even reached 80 goals. Insigne had his best season statistically, scoring 18 goals and 9 assists. Napoli’s coach, Maurizio Sarri, recently said that Insigne took his game to another level this year, in terms of being able to have a positive impact on games even when he didn’t score. The other Napoli attacker making the Serie A Team of the Year is Dries Mertens. The Belgium international came into the season expecting to be a super-sub for Napoli again, instead he became their superstar. Mertens got slotted into the striker role early in the season when Milik suffered an injury, Mertens never looked back. He scored a career best 28 goals and finished second in the race for the Capocannoniere, behind Edin Dzeko. Dzeko rounds out the attack, and he brings with him a league best 29 goals. Dzeko shocked everybody with his play this season, especially considering the horrible debut season he had last year. Most people would say the Serie A Player of the Year is between Dzeko and Mertens.