Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Sampdoria looking for consolidation, consolidation, consolidation

Valerio Pennicino

Despite losing arguably their two biggest talents, Sampdoria will be looking to build on a solid first campaign back in the top flight and maybe think about edging into the lower reaches of the top half of the table.

A solid first season back in Serie A for Sampdoria led them to safety well before the end of the season, however it also drew admiring glances towards their key players from sides all over Italy. Although two of these key men have gone (more on that later), reinforcements have been brought in and although they may not have quite the same quality, I Blucerchiati should still have more than enough to be well in the mid-table scrap.

Last Season

Sampdoria enjoyed a solid season back in the top flight, eventually finishing 14th, towards the bottom of a tightly-packed mid-table group but were ten points clear of relegation, and safety was secured a few matches from home. They could also boast at being the only side not to be beaten by Juventus, winning 2-1 in Turin in January and 3-2 on the final day of the season at Luigi Ferraris. They also laid to rest the demons of being relegated by fierce rivals Genoa with a 3-1 victory in the Derby della Lanterna.

Who's Gone?

Mauro Icardi: The young Argentine burst on to the scene after being thrust into first team action due to a variety of injuries, securing his status with the fans by scoring against Genoa and adding four in a 6-0 demolition of Pescara. It was only a matter of time before he was snapped up and sure enough, Inter came calling and Icardi joins compatriots Rodrigo Palacio and Diego Milito in the Nerazzuri forward line.

Andrea Poli: A solid presence in Samp's midfield the last time they featured in A, he was deemed too good for Serie B and was allowed to leave on loan to Inter in 2011-12. After another impressive season, he has now joined the red and black half of Milan to bolster their midfield options.

Marcelo Estigarribia: The Paraguayan wing-back had a good season, causing problems for all manner of defences with his energy and direct running but he returns to Uruguay's Deportivo Maldonado after his loan period expired.

Maxi Lopez: The Argentine disappointed on loan last season and after an injury allowed Icardi a run in the first team, never really got a look in. He returns to Catania.

Who's In?

Manolo Gabbiadini: A solid season on loan at Bologna from Juventus prompted Sampdoria to shell out €5.5m for 50% of his playing rights and he will spend 2013-14 with I Blucerchiati.

Bartosz Salamon: The young Polish centre-back comes in as part of the deal which sent Andrea Poli to Milan. Highly regarded, he made his debut for Brescia aged just 17.

Pawel Wszolek: Another young Pole, this time brought in from Polonia Warsaw. An exciting right-sided winger who made his full international debut aged 20 in October 2012.

Keep An Eye On

Pedro Obiang: With Icardi and Poli leaving, it was essential that Sampdoria clung on to their Spanish midfield powerhouse. His displays in the first half of last season drew glances from all over Europe, all impressed by his ability to break down opposition attacks and his sheer athleticism, allowing him to get the ball, and himself, forward quickly. IF he's on form, he is an indispensable member of the side and another good season should see Sampdoria having to fend off advances from big clubs everywhere.

Predicted Finish

Sampdoria were solid enough last season, thanks in large part to the unexpected contribution of Icardi, filling in where Maxi Lopez had failed. If Manolo Gabbiadini can deliver on his promise and become a top-level Serie A striker to make up for Icardi's absence, and if captain Angelo Palombo can remain fit for the season, Sampdoria should be well within the mid-table hunt and will look to improve on last season's 14th place.

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