With the January transfer window around the corner, Serie A clubs brace themselves for one last opportunity to address their squad problems in 2023/24. Italian sides were atypically generous in their summer spending, with Milan leading the charts with the club’s most proactive recruitment campaign in the post-Silvio Berlusconi era.
Others, like Juventus, opted to keep a low profile. But despite only bringing in Timothy Weah from Lille, Massimiliano Allegri’s men have emerged as the only viable Scudetto contenders alongside Inter. Milan’s lavish spending has failed to deliver the desired effect, with Rossoneri stranded nine points below the Serie A summit.
Atalanta’s list of summer signings looked awe-inspiring on paper. But injuries to several newcomers have hindered Gian Piero Gasperini’s bid to re-establish La Dea as valid top-four contenders. Then, there’s Roma’s incredible signing spree in the wake of the 2022/23 Europa League heartbreak.
Jose Mourinho reshaped his squad in the summer but to no avail. With the halfway point of the 2023/24 Serie A season fast approaching, it’s time to look at the best pieces of summer business. We compiled a list of five players who have had the most significant impact on their teams in the first half of the season.
#5 Charles De Ketelaere
You probably wonder how! From a player destined to go down in the Milan history books as one of the club’s worst-ever signings, Charles De Ketelaere has turned his fortunes around during his brief loan spell at Atalanta. Though he has yet to reach the promised heights, the talented playmaker has revived his career in Bergamo.
Two goals and four assists from 16 Serie A outings have elevated De Ketelaere in the pecking order, making him one of Gasperini’s favorites. But he hasn’t fully exorcised his demons as he remains prone to unfathomable misses, as was his wayward finish against his parent club Milan in December.
#4 Lucas Beltran
The transition from South American football to Serie A can be an arduous process, as Lucas Beltran had to learn the hard way. It took him two months to gain a foothold at Fiorentina after completing his €20 million arrival from River Plate. But he’s now taking the Italian top flight by storm.
Beltran has found the net in three of his last four Serie A appearances, including match-winners against Hellas Verona and Monza. Though there’s still ample room for improvement, the 22-year-old has the capacity to become one of the fiercest out-and-out strikes in the division.
#3 Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku’s future was the subject of wild speculation in the summer. Cast off by his parent club, Chelsea, his career was in limbo after talks with Inter collapsed at the 11th hour. However, Roma came to his rescue, with Mourinho offering him an escape route from Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku has repaid the Special One’s trust with a dominant spell of form upon his Serie A return, tallying eight goals and one assist to soak up the limelight as Roma’s standout performer. Besides the numbers, the Belgian’s physical presence in the final third has quickly become crucial to Mourinho’s tactical setup.
#2 Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic is another Chelsea outcast whose switch to Serie A has proved a massive hit. The USMNT winger’s stellar start to life at Milan has overshadowed even long-serving talisman Rafael Leao, making him one of the most beloved figures within the San Siro faithful.
Olivier Giroud remains Milan’s most prolific player in Serie A with eight goals. But Pulisic’s impressive haul of six goals and four assists, featuring two match-winning strikes versus Genoa and Sassuolo, has significantly contributed to Rossoneri’s attacking prowess.
#1 Marcus Thuram
With Inter leading the charge in Serie A, it’s only natural to choose one of their own to top the list. Marcus Thuram was inches away from joining Milan last summer before performing a late U-turn and deciding to link up with Simone Inzaghi’s troops instead. It has proved to be the best choice of his life.
Partnered up with Lautaro Martinez at the heart of Inter’s frontline, the 26-year-old has gone from strength to strength in his early days in Serie A. Even though the Argentine remains the focal point of Inzaghi’s attack, Thuram has racked up an eye-catching seven goals and nine assists in 18 league appearances, averaging a goal contribution every 87 minutes.
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