Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Mid-table safety is Bologna's priority

Mario Carlini / Iguana Press

Having finished 13th last season, Stefano Pioli is looking to lead Bologna to another comfortable mid-table finish this time around.

Bologna have a proud history in Italian football, having won the Scudetto an impressive seven times. Sadly their recent past has been rather less glorious, as they've dipped between Serie A and the third tier after consecutive relegations in the 1980s. Fortunately things are now looking up, having been back in the top flight since promotion in 2008.

The hiring of coach Stefano Pioli in 2011 now looks a masterstroke, though with the rossoblù having lost a fair chunk of players this summer, just achieving a safe mid-table finish again would represent a good achievement for the Bolognese outfit.

Last Season

It wasn't always plain sailing for Bologna, who endured an eight-game winless streak -- including a 6-0 drubbing by Miroslav Klose Lazio -- near the season's end. Fortunately for them, safety was all but guaranteed by then, with the rossoblù eventually finishing in a comfortable 13th place, 12 points above the relegation zone.

Who's Gone?

Diego Pérez: Starting with arguably Bologna's biggest loss; midfielder Diego Pérez has left on a free transfer after three years of service. El Ruso appeared in 23 of their league games last season, and is still a regular in the Uruguayan national side. He'll be missed.

Alberto Gilardino: Bologna's top scorer last season, Alberto Gilardino, has returned to Genoa after his loan ended. The 31-year-old netted 13 league goals in total at the Renato Dall'Ara, proving he still has something to offer the grifone. He's left the rossoblù's other strikers with big boots to fill.

Tiberio Guarente: Midfielder Tiberio Guarente has returned to Sevilla after a season spent mostly warming the bench at Bologna. He only started 11 games, so his departure shouldn't cause Stefano Pioli too much concern.

Manolo Gabbiadini: The coach will definitely be more upset to see Manolo Gabbiadini go. His talent was evident at this summer's Euro U-21 championship, after he'd appeared in the vast majority of Bologna's league games last season. The versatile striker scored six goals in 30 games, and Sampdoria will be delighted to have secured his signature in co-ownership with Juventus.

Marco Motta: Full-back Marco Motta started exactly half of Bologna's league games last season, so isn't a major worry. He's returned to parent club Juventus.

Roger Carvalho: Flamengo defender Roger Carvalho spent last season benchwarming at the Renato Dall'Ara, and has now returned to Brazil.

Nico Pulzetti: The veteran midfielder was relegated from first-team regular to a backup role last season, and has been sent out on loan to Siena in Serie B.

Who's In?

Rolando Bianchi: Probably the most impressive of all of Bologna's arrivals so far, 30-year-old ex-Torino striker Rolando Bianchi should fit in nicely, adding much-needed quality to the rossoblù attack. He scored 11 goals in Serie A last season, and, on a free transfer, isn't a bad replacement for Gilardino.

Francesco Della Rocca: Energetic midfielder Francesco Della Rocca has been thrown from pillar to post over the last few seasons, having now returned to former club Bologna from relegated Palermo -- having spent last season on loan at also-relegated Siena. Hopefully we'll get the chance to see what he's really made of on a consistent basis this season.

Gianluca Curci: Goalkeeper Gianluca Curci was used in rotation with Federico Agliardi last season, and has had his loan from Roma extended by another year.

Abdallah Yaisien: 19-year-old French-Egyptian playmaker Abdallah Yaisien -- who has been capped at U-17 and U-18 level for France -- has arrived on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain. He's signed a four-year deal, so certainly looks to be a signing for the long-term.

Inter Milan's Primavera team: Ok, so not quite the whole team, but three players from it. Right-back Andrea Bandini and central midfielder Andrea Romanò, both 19, have arrived on permanent deals, while second striker Denis Alibec, 22, is on loan. These players may have arrived in recompense for Inter's conversion of Gaby Mudingayi's loan deal to a permanent one.

Keep An Eye On

Saphir Taïder. Algerian international Saphir Taïder has supposedly been subject to interest from Manchester United, having been one of Bologna's stars last season. Still only 21, he's as adept at breaking forward with pace and skill as he is at stopping opposition attacks. If he's not poached by the end of the transfer window, he's definitely the player to watch.

Predicted Finish

Bologna have lost a few important first-team players this window, while leaning towards signing talented youngsters over proven replacements. However, so far they've managed to hang onto their two most important players -- Alessandro Diamanti and Saphir Taïder -- despite strong interest from other clubs. They're the stars in an otherwise pretty average squad, though blessed with an excellent coach, mid-table looks likely for Bologna again.

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