Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Torino prepared to fight to stay in Serie A

Giuseppe Bellini

Despite losing some very important players, Torino seems like a team that has enough quality to avoid the drop, although the season may be a struggle.

After three years away from Serie A, Torino returned to the top flight last season and managed to avoid relegation, which was their primary goal. In 2013/2014 not much will change in that regard as the smaller Turin club looks to keep their status as a top flight team. With this in mind, Toro have used the transfer window wisely, bringing in a few youngsters and securing Alessio Cerci in full.

Last season:

Yes, Torino avoided relegation, but was their first season back at the top really that good? The granata managed only 8 wins, the last of which came ten rounds before the end of the season, and, beginning in February, went on a terrible run resulting in just two wins during the remainder of the season.

Toro's strength last season was in their attack, scoring 46 goals, more than any other side in the bottom half of the table. Where they got into trouble was in defense, allowing 57 goals. One of the reasons for that was perhaps the fact that one of the best players, Angelo Ogbonna, was often injured, missing nearly 15 matches. Which brings us to...

Who's gone?

Angelo Ogbonna is staying in Turin, but he switched colors and went to arch rivals Juventus. Big loss for Toro, but the truth is Ogbonna didn't have a great season anyway, so with €13m+ gained from this transfer there is enough money to reinvest in other quality additions.

Jean-François Gillet isn't going to a rival, or any other team at all for that matter. He has been suspended for 43 months for his involvement in match fixing while at Bari.

Rolando Bianchi has left Toro after 5 years and signed for Bologna. In five seasons with Torino, including three in Serie B, Bianchi was the captain and a leader of the team, scoring a total of 73 goals for granata. Unfortunately, he and the club couldn't reach agreement over the renewal of his contract.

Mario Santana is another first team player from last season who left Torino. The Argentine had some good games, but all in all, he had the same problem he has had his whole career: A lack of consistency. That is why perhaps Torino fans won't cry too much about Santana, who already found a new home at Genoa.

Who's in?

Ciro Immobile. The highest scorer of Serie B during his days at Pescara under Zdenek Zeman didn't have the best of seasons at Genoa, but Torino obviously believes in him and insisted on him being part of the Ogbonna deal with Juventus (who co-owned him with Genoa). Immobile will have the chance to prove his worth in Giampiero Ventura's team, where he will battle for a first team spot with, among others, ex-Siena player...

Marcelo Larrondo, who spent the last 6 months at Fiorentina but failed to impress with the viola. Larrondo was considered very talented when he came to Italy a few years ago, but he still hasn't realized his potential. Perhaps changing beautiful Tuscany cities for Turin will be the making of him.

Nicola Bellomo is an interesting young midfielder that came from Bari this transfer window. He had a very good season in Serie B where he mostly played as trequartista - it remains to be seen how will he fit in Ventura's central midfield, usually consisting of two players.

Nikola Maksimovic came from Red Star on loan. He did not have a great season at his former club, but can likely help Torino depending on how well he adapts to Italian football. He certainly isn't a "new Matija Nastasic", but has the potential to be a quality defender.

Omar El Kaddouri was great in Serie B for Brescia two seasons ago, but like many youngsters before him didn't find a lot of space in Walter Mazzarri's Napoli. He's been loaned to Torino, notching them another talented offensive midfielder.

Emiliano Moretti will add experience to Toro's defense. A former European U21 champion with Italy, Moretti moved from Genoa, after having previously played for, among other numerous clubs, Valencia for five years and Fiorentina at the beginning of his career. Moretti is able to play both in the center of defense as well as on the left side.

Cesare Bovo is another experienced player such are often key for teams that are fighting to avoid the drop. Just like Moretti, he too was a European U21 champion. Bovo is a product of Roma's youth system, but spent the best years of his career in Palermo. He did struggle to find his place in Genoa's line up in the last two seasons, but despite that, he will be, at minimum, a solid alternative in Toro's defense.

Keep an eye on

Well, this is easy. Alessio Cerci had a great year last season, even receiving a few callups to the national team. Toro bought him in full from Fiorentina, without a doubt the best news their fans got this thus far this summer. He will be expected to continue in the same fashion and become a real leader of this team, perhaps proving finally that he can be a consistent performer.

Predicted finish

Another season of battle against the drop is most probably in the cards. However, this team does possess enough quality to avoid that battle, and to secure another year in the top division long before the last few rounds. One potential problem might be the inexperience of some of the newly signed players, but the likes of newcomers Cesare Bovo and Emiliano Moretti, together with players who survived last season, should help make things easier.

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