Serie A Previews: Palermo In Transition

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 21: Nicolas Bertolo of Palermo celebrates after scoring Palermo's second goal during the Serie A match between US Citta di Palermo and Cagliari Calcio at Stadio Renzo Barbera on September 21, 2011 in Palermo, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

After a disappointing 16th place finish last season, Palermo have made a lot of changes in an attempt to return to the levels of success reached in previous years.

If you were to look up turbulent in the dictionary, well in an Italian dictionary at least, you're likely to find Palermo listed as part of the definition. The Rosanero experienced a wild roller coaster 2011-12 season that saw them peak as high as fifth in the table, but ultimately finish in 16th, seven points clear of the first relegation spot. In case that's not enough to fit the definition, they had three managers during the season.

Alright, technically it was two managers since Stefano Pioli was sacked before the Serie A season even started after Palermo crashed out of the Europa League against the Swiss side FC Thun in the third preliminary round. The head job was surprisingly given to U-19 coach Devis Mangia, who at the time had no experience managing a senior level squad. Despite early success for Mangia and the Rosanero, the team eventually slumped towards the bottom of the league and Mangia was replaced by Bortolo Mutti.

As Palermo readies for the 2012-13 season, there's yet another manager and several new faces on the roster. Giuseppe Sannino, who led Siena to a 14th place finish last season, is now in charge along with several other shake-ups in the club's hierarchy. Gone are goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas, defender Federico Balzaretti and midfielder Edgar Alvarez. In comes goalkeeper Samir Ujkani, defenders Michel Morganella, Mauro Cetto and Steve von Bergen,midfielders Egidio Arevalo, Jasmin Kurtic and Nicolas Viola and young Argentinian striker Paulo Dybala who was coveted by several top clubs. The change may not be done yet either, with Palermo having been linked to AC Milan defender Djamel Mesbah.

In addition to those signings, the return of attacking midfielder Franco Brienza who spent 8 seasons (2000-08) with Palermo returns to the club from Siena. The announcement of Brienza's signing occured within hours of Sannino being named the club's new manager.

It's all about change at Palermo and the pressure will be on Sannino to get results from his team and justify the money spent in this summer. After reaching the Europa League the two previous seasons and the Coppa Italia final in 2011, the expectations are pretty clear.

Who's Gone?: Alexandros Tzorvas (Genoa), Federico Balzaretti (AS Roma) and Edgar Alvarez (Dinamo Bucharest)

Who's In?: Samir Ujkani, Michel Morganella, Steve von Bergen, Egidio Arevalo, Jasmin Kurtic, Nicolas Viola, Paulo Dybala, Sebastián Sosa, Franco Brienza.

Keep An Eye On: Paulo Dybala. The 18-year-old Argentinian attacking mid/forward has been pegged as "the next Kun Aguero" and could make a big impact if he's ready to perform on the big stage of Serie A. Even if he doesn't make an impact this year, he's a name to remember for the future.

Predicted Finish: Midtable. This team is expected to finish higher and they probably will, but there's a lot of change in the off-season and they'll need to prove it was the right kind of change.

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