Serie A 2013-14 season previews: Hello again Hellas Verona

Maurizio Lagana

Move over Chievo! Hellas Verona are back in Serie A for the first time since 2002 and plan on sticking around for a while.

The City of Verona finally has something to get excited about. Hellas make their return to the top flight after 11 years away, to give Serie A fans two more derby games to shout about over the course of the season. After languishing at the bottom of Serie C1 for four seasons, coach Andrea Mandorlini was brought in and worked wonders, guiding the team to two promotions in three seasons. Judging by their ambitious activity in the summer transfer market and some eye-catching pre-season performances, including a 1-0 victory over Feyenoord, the team are looking to make more of an impact than a cameo amongst Italy's elite.

Last Season

No longer cast in the gloomy shadow of city rivals Chievo, Hellas are back with the big boys after securing second place in Serie B. The Gialloblu finished two points clear of the playoffs and just three points shy of champions Sassuolo. The team also boasted Serie B's top scorer in Daniele Cacia. The 29-year-old netted an impressive 24 goals during his maiden season with the Bentegodi outfit.

Who's Gone?

Most of last season's promotion winning squad has thus far remained intact. Palermo are one of a host of clubs currently courting Cacia's services, but it would make little sense for him to pass up a chance at Serie A after doing so well in the second tier last season.

Who's In?

Luca Toni - The veteran is the marquee signing for the Serie A newboys. On the fringes last season at Fiorentina, the 36-year-old year old proved he still has plenty to offer and possesses the midas touch when called upon. Toni netted the decisive goal in the Feyenoord win and will be relishing the chance to be a regular starter as he enters the twilight period of his career.

Ezequiel Cirigliano - Likened to Javier Mascherano, the hotly touted 21-year-old Argentine midfielder has arrived on a season long loan deal from River Plate. Could definitely be one to watch over the course of the campaign.

Massimo Donati - The journeyman midfielder joins after spells at Atalanta, Bari, AC Milan and Celtic. The 32-year-old spent last season at Palermo and has had various loan spells in Italy. Operates best as a defensive midfielder.

Bosko Jankovic - Versatile attacking midfielder/forward joins after spending five years at Genoa. The Serbian international was a former captain at the Marassi and has also had a stint at Palermo. Will add some bite and vital experience to the attack.

Nikolay Mihaylov - A Bulgarian international and former Liverpool fringe goalkeeper. Mihaylov has served Dutch side FC Twente for the past six years, turning an initial loan deal from Anfield into a permanent one after two seasons. The 25-year-old is in his prime and has spoken of his enthusiasm and excitement at getting an opportunity to play in Serie A.

Keep An Eye On

Jorginho - The Brazilian born Italian Under 21 international has pledged his immediate future to the Verona cause after being linked all summer with moves to Lazio, AC Milan, Liverpool and Everton. The versatile 21-year-old can operate anywhere in midfield and is rumoured to have agreed a co-ownership deal with the Rossoneri at the end of the current season.

Predicted Finish

Verona's sporting director Sean Sogliano has predicted a relegation battle, but the fans will think differently after an encouraging summer. Toni and Jankovic have been bought to assist Cacia with the goals, as Juan Ignacio Gomez and Martinho were the only other players to break double figures in that department last season. The club have bought wisely and arguably come into the season in a stronger position than the other promoted clubs. On paper, there are weaker squads than Verona's.

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