Gap at the Back: Is Serie A Losing Its Best Defenders?

Last summer, Calcio fans were forced to haplessly sit and watch some of the biggest stars of Serie A escaping the league one after the other. We’re talking about the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, Cristian Romero and of course Cristiano Ronaldo. Luckily, the situation this time around appears to be less dramatic. In fact, the Italian peninsula is about to welcome back Lukaku, alongside Paul Pogba. But despite these encouraging returns, an exodus of another kind is looming in the horizon, as some of the best Serie A defenders could be about to take the flight towards greener and richer pastures.

So let’s take a closer look at what be lying in store for us this summer on the center backs front.

The Lost Torch

After 17 years of service, Giorgio Chiellini has decided to bid his beloved Juventus farewell in favor of a pre-retirement experience at Los Angeles FC.

But while the departure of the legendary captain was somewhat expected following Italy’s World Cup heartbreak, the Bianconeri thought they had the ideal heir who could lift the torch and keep the flame alive.

Nonetheless, Matthijs de Ligt could be destined to leave himself, leaving behind a depleted backline. The Dutchman has a contract until 2024, and the club is eagerly trying to renew his deal for two additional seasons.

However, the management’s attempts have been fruitless so far, hence, an early divorce could be on the table, as the Old Lady might want to avoid another Paulo Dybala scenario.

Chelsea are the frontrunners in the race – having lost the services of Antonio Rudiger among others – and are now adamant on rebuilding a defense upon the broad shoulders of the former Ajax captain.

The Sacrificial Lamb

Despite being one of the biggest clubs in Italy, Inter must once again take some painful measures in order to fund their transfer campaign. The Nerazzurri’s complex finances mean that at least one major star will have to leave Appiano Gentile this summer.

In a recent piece, we listed the possible candidates before identifying Milan Skriniar as the most reasonable sale (despite being a sorrowful call), and it appears that Giuseppe Marotta and company are leaning towards it.

The Slovakian has established himself as one of the absolute best defenders in Serie A over the past few years, which explains why Paris Saint Germain are about to splash 60 million euros for his services.

Pick Your Poison: Who Should Inter Sacrifice This Summer?

The Dominator

Following the departure of Lorenzo Insigne, Napoli were supposed to offer the armband for Kalidou Koulibaly who has been acting as a true stalwart at the back for the southerners since 2014.

But will the Senegalese even attend his coronation ceremony?

The 31-year-old could be looking to leave the Maradona Stadium in favor of a new experience at a top European club. While the Partenopei would loathe to sell, the center back’s contract expires a year later, which could force the hand of club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Nonetheless, the former Genk man could remain in Serie A after all, with Juventus hoping to make up for their losses at the back by landing K2.

However, the Napoli patron is unlikely to grant Koulibaly passage to Turin (the whole Gonzalo Higuain debacle remains fresh in his mind), but a transfer abroad would be a less dreadful outcome for the club’s passionate defenders.

Lukaku and Pogba are Back – Returning Heroes or Defeated Conquerors?


At the end of last season, we named de Ligt, Skriniar and Koulibaly among the top five defenders in the Serie A campaign.

Therefore, losing all three of them would surely take its toll on the quality of the backlines in a league renowned first and foremost for its defensive prowess.

Even though life goes on, and other pillars will rise to take the vacant steads, these potential departures could have significant consequences on their respective clubs, and perhaps the league in general.