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2021 Serie A Team of the Year

Sat 05 February 2022 | 8:30

Now that the dust has settled and we are well into 2022, let’s take a look at the year that is behind us and find out who are on our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year:

2021 saw a massive shift in Serie A’s power structure as the two Milanese clubs were able to close the gap between them and Juventus after nearly a decade of Old Lady’s dominance over Italian football. With a title race that include all three clubs as well as Atalanta, it was Inter Milan that prevailed in the end and were able to win the league for the first time in a decade.

But that was not all the excitement that Serie A had to offer in 2021 since the race for the top 4 as well as the start of the 2021-22 season was also as nail-biting as the last season’s title race. And like always it was the players that brought all the action and excitement. So fittingly, we thought to pick the best players from this year and feature them in our

2021 Serie A Team of the Year

, so let’s see who is on this list:

Serie A team of the season of 2021

One thing to note here is that we are not picking a team from any specific season but rather the entirety of 2021 which falls into two seasons. The formation that we are going for here is 4-3-1-2. So, let’s find out who makes the cut for the Serie A team of the season of 2021:

Goalkeeper: David Ospina (Napoli)

The obvious choice here is Inter Milan’s Samir Handanovic since he had the most amount of clean sheets last season as well as having a fair amount this season as well. But a player that has gone under the radar a bit is the former

Arsenal

goalkeeper, David Ospina, who we’ve chosen to be between the posts in our Serie A Team of the Year.

The Colombian joined Napoli in 2018, first on a loan deal that later became permanent, but his starting position in

Napoli

have not always been a sure thing. In fact, last season Napoli’s goalkeeper situation was very strange as Gennaro Gattusso liked to alternate between Meret and Ospina in goal but even then Ospina had a better record. The Colombian kept 8 clean sheets in 16 matches which is 2 more than what Meret did in 22.

Ospina managed to have the highest save percentage of any keeper in the league (76.9%) saving 30 of the 39 shots he faced. He has maintained a similar save percentage throughout this season where he has become Napoli’s 1st choice keeper under Spalletti, saving 46 shots out of 58 he faced and keeping 10 clean sheets which is on par with Samir Handanovic who has the most clean sheets so far in the season.

While he is not exactly sweeping keeper, Ospina manages to hold his own in that regard with 11 sweeper keeper actions this season, meaning that he has finally become a well rounded goalkeeper. Since Handanovic is bound to get more attention, it would’ve been a shame if we didn’t include Ospina in our Serie A team of the season of 2021.

Right Back: Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan)

Although he has not been a Serie A player since the summer and has moved to PSG, we would be remiss if we didn’t include Achraf Hakimi as the right back in our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year. While Hakimi spent only a season at Inter Milan, the right back instantly became a Serie A star and massively helped Inter Milan towards winning the league which is why so many fans were saddened by him leaving the club this summer.

Although he is mainly utilized as a right back, a quick look at his stats reveal that Hakimi doesn’t do much defending and was very much an attacking wing back. but the fact that much of Inter Milan’s offensive plans were centered around him tells you of the qualities Hakimi possesses while going forward. Hakimi managed to have the 6th most touches in the attacking third in whole of Serie A last season, which means he was constantly pushing forward.

As an attacking fullback, Hakimi operated as one of Inter’s main sources of creativity. He would often use his considerable amount of technique and speed to get passed defenders and either cut into the box or cross when he reached the opposition’s final third which is why he was among the top crossers in the league providing 105 crosses last season. he also had a fair amount of interceptions (48) and blocks (61) last season, making him a worthwhile defender as well.

With 8 assists Hakimi was one of the best assist providers at Inter but more interestingly is the fact that Hakimi was Inter’s third best goal scorer with 7 goals, behind Lukaku and Martinez. it’s no wonder why

PSG

didn’t hesitate to bring Hakimi to Paris since he so clearly is one of the best young football players in Europe as well as our choice right back in Serie A Team of the Year.

Center Back: Davide Calabria (AC Milan)

Though technically Davide Calabria is a right back, he has played the center back role and he was just too good in 2021 to be left out of our Serie A team of the season of 2021. Throughout last year, Calabria has been one of the main reasons behind Milan’s strong performances. a product of

AC Milan

’s own academy, Calabria has gradually become a staple of AC Milan sides under different managers and now is the club’s vice-captain. his fullback partnership with Theo Hernandez was incredible to watch as both players surprised everyone with their performances.

While originally, Milan considered him a back-up to Conti, Calabria soon replaced him as the first-choice right back due to latter’s recurring injuries. The very image of a modern full-back, Davide Calabria has blistering pace and technique that helps him immensely going forward.

His pace and stamina also allow him to recover his position pretty well and not be caught out of position on the counter attack. While he is impressive going forward, compared to his partner at the left flank (Hernandez), Calabria tends to be much less attack minded and helps Milan keep their defensive shape.

Regarding his defensive stats, Davide Calabria was the 2nd best tackler amongst Serie A defenders with 50 successful tackles. He also had the 2nd most pressures (249) in the defensive third which highlights how his style is more about keeping Milan’s defensive shape rather than full on attacking. He also boasts of 2 clearances and 1.4 interceptions per game as well as 2 goals and an assist. A complete defender who is not only one of the best young Serie A players of 2021 but also deserves to be named in our

2021 Serie A Team of the Year

.

Center Back: Gleison Bremer (Torino)

Partnering with Calabria in defense of our Serie A team of the season of 2021 is Gleison Bremer from

Torino

who is a severely underrated player, despite being one of the best defenders in a league that is known for its world class defenders. The 24 year old Brazilian defender has been consistently improving his game ever since he joined Torino in 2018. While he was one of the busiest defenders last season, this season he has proven that he is a top class defender as well.

As a defender Gleison Bremer excels at Interceptions, blocks and clearances, almost leading the Serie A in every category. His 49 blocks is only second in the league while he leads the league by a large margin in terms of interceptions (89) and clearances (113), something which he excelled at during last season as well. He is also among Serie A’s elite when it comes to pressuring the opponent.

With Bremer only being dribbled past 6 times during this season, the Brazilian looks to be strong in every category a defender should. All this combined with his natural Brazilian technique makes him a great modern defender, one that many big clubs will go after during the next summer but for now he deservedly slides into the center back spot for our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year.

Left Back: Theo Hernandez (AC Milan)

The second AC Milan player to appear as a part of our

Serie A Team of the Year

and a genuine contented for the Serie A Player of the year of 2021, is none other than Theo Hernandez, who joined AC Milan from Real Madrid in 2019 in a deal that could cost AC Milan up to €20 million. And judging by his excellent performances and seamless assimilation into the first team squad, it is a price that Milan are happy to pay and honestly considering how good Hernandez has been, it seems like a bargain in today’s market.

Theo alongside his brother Lucas, who is also a left-back who plays for

Bayern Munich

, both were brought up in

Atletico Madrid

’s youth academy, a club where their father used to play at. While Lucas found his way to Atletico’s first team, Theo found his way to Real Madrid but as you can imagine it wasn’t that easy to break into Madrid’s first team and so Theo proved his worth on a season-long loan at Sociedad which eventually earned him a move to Milan in 2019.

An attacking left-back, who constantly bombards the opponent’s flank, Theo is able to provide both goals and assists for Milan judging by his 7 goals and 5 assists from last season as well as 4 goals and 4 assists this season. Hernandez is also an accomplished dribbler with 66 successful dribbles last season and 25 this term.

Hernandez’s partnership with Calabria who are both led by the veteran, Simon Kjaer promises a great future for AC Milan, something that may be already here judging by how great they were last season and continue to be this season. So, it’s of no surprise that Theo Hernandez is included in our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year.

Defensive Midfielder: Franck Kessie (AC Milan)

AC Milan was at the top of the Serie A for half of last season which was largely because of two players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Kessie. the 25 year old midfielder was the link between Milan’s incredible defense and impressive attack and one of the best midfielders around Europe last season. Kessie is a born leader and has a commanding presence on the field which is a characteristic that was sorely lacking in Milan in the past decade.

With Milan having two of the best full backs in Serie A in Calabria and Hernandez, they needed someone to anchor the team when they go full on attacking which is where Kessie comes in. as a versatile midfielder who is capable of turning the defense into attack as well as preventing threats, Kessie’s job is perhaps the most important at the heart of the midfield. As well as his impressive ability to stop opposition attacks with his tackles, Kessie was also the midfielder with the most amount of blocks last season (75).

He was also a decent passer of the ball, although much of Milan’s distribution was down to Hakan Calhanoglu. However, all of Frank Kessie’s contributions were not defensive as he offered Milan a lot going forward. With Zlatan missing due to injury for most of the season, Kessie continued on as Milan’s main penalty-taker and he managed to score an impressive amount of 13 goals (11 of which were from the spot). He also had 4 assists last season as well as 5 goals this season.

Despite all of his great attributes, Franck Kessie has been somewhat of a problematic figure at Milan since he refuses to sign a contract extension with the club and will likely join a myriad of clubs that are after him in the summer. This will put a huge dent in Milan’s hopes of continued success since Kessie is such an important player in their current squad and one that cannot be replaced easily. Regardless, the Ivorian still makes it onto our

2021 Serie A Team of the Year

.

Right Midfielder: Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan/Inter Milan)

Here is a player that many Milan fans won’t be glad to hear and that is their former playmaker, Hakan Calhanoglu, who during the summer joined Milan’s sworn enemies, Inter Milan, on a free transfer no less. The Turkish playmaker played a huge role in Milan’s resurgence last season, being the main source of creativity for the Rossoneri and since his arrival at

Inter Milan

in the 2021 summer, he has been nothing short of excellent which is why he is on our Serie A Team of the Year.

A set piece specialist, Calhanoglu had the most amount of corner kicks taken last season (150) and he again leads the Serie A this season (83). He is also a great progressive passer and has had 12 goal creating actions since joining Inter this season. Also, no other player from last season had more passes than Calhanoglu that ended up creating a chance for their team.

With 4 goals and 9 assists during last season as well as 6 goals and 7 assists this season, Calhanoglu has been instrumental in the two Milanese clubs’ title challenges as well as being one of the best playmakers in the league which is why he is among our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year as much as Milan fans hate to see him there!

Left Midfielder: Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)

Napoli’s skipper who is sadly on his last season at the club never seems to disappoint the fans as he is seemingly the only Napoli player who is consistently among Serie A’s best players, season after season. and last year was no different as proven by the fact that Insigne is on our

Serie A team of the season of 2021

. Whether it was in Napoli’s close race to secure one of the Champions League places during the 2020-21 season or the way he helped make the Azzuri the champions of Europe in the Euro 2020, Lorenzo Insigne left his mark on Italian football in 2021.

Last season and under manager Gennaro Gattuso, Insigne more or less played his old position as a left attacking midfielder and sometimes a left winger who likes to cut in and create chance or take a long shot. Insigne truly has mastered that position and is one of the best left wingers in the world and he has the numbers to back this claim. Italy’s manager Roberto Mancini also used Insigne in that position which worked perfectly for Italy as he scored 2 goals and led the Azzuri to the European Championship.

Lorenzo Insigne managed to score 19 goals as well as assist 7 goals last season, becoming Napoli’s top scorer. He has also continued his exploits this season by scoring 5 goals and assisting another 4.  with Dries Mertens’ reduced game time and goals tally, Lorenzo Insigne stepped up big time last season and delivered his best season at Napoli, the way only a captain could and dragged Napoli to the top 4 race. it was a pity that he didn’t get the result he wanted but a European Championship proved to be the greatest consolation prize. 

Attacking Midfielder: Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)

Inter Milan’s return to power could very well be traced back to when they acquired the impressive Argentine striker, Lautaro Martinez, back in 2018 from the Racing Club. fast forward a couple of seasons later and Martinez now has played an instrumental part in Inter Milan’s 19th league title and was a serious contender for the

Serie A Player of the year of 2021

.

After joining Inter in 2018 and having a decent first season, Antonio Conte’s arrival as manager and Romelu Lukaku joining as Martinez’ partner in attack, took the Argentine’s game to a whole other level. This resulted in many clubs wanting to sign the Argentine but as the pandemic hit and clubs fell under financial hardship, Inter found a silver lining in the situation as Martinez stayed put. So, they built on their success and went all in for the Serie A title, which they claimed, in huge parts thanks to Martinez’ contributions in attack.

Martinez started the majority of last season’s games alongside Romelu Lukaku as Conte preferred to have two strikers instead of an isolated striker with wingers around him. This suited both players perfectly as they became a one-two punch that knocked out almost every defense in

Serie A

. With 17 goals and 6 assists in the league, Lautaro went on to have his most impressive season at Inter and help the Milan giants to win the scudetto.

Despite Lukaku moving on, Lautaro has managed to once again be one of the pillars of Inter’s success this season and has 11 goals and 2 assists to his name and having made a great partnership with Eden Dzeko and Hakan Calhanoglu in Inter’s new setup. Apart from domestic glory, Lautaro managed to help Argentina finally win the Copa America which is further proof what a world-class player he is and why he is a part of our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year.

Striker: Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina)

No matter who you support, there is something really exciting about a young player having a breakout year and performing way beyond what is expected of him. Which is exactly what happened to anyone who saw Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic terrorize Serie A defenders in 2021. while the Serbian striker had been at Fiorentina since 2018, it was during the last season and this current one that he became one of the best young players around and earned a spot on our Serie A team of the season of 2021.

Joining from Partizan in 2018, Vlahovic played a bit-part role in his first season at

Fiorentina

but came into his own during the 2019-20 season where he managed to score 8 goals in all competitions for Fiorentina. But no one expected Vlahovic to score as many as he did in the 2020-21 season where the Serbian striker scored an impressive amount of 21 goals in the Serie A alone, becoming the competition’s fourth-best top scorer behind the likes of Ronaldo, Lukaku and Luis Muriel.

He then went on to have a crazy few months during this current season where he almost matched his record from last season, scoring 20 goals in 24 matches and earning a hefty move to Juventus valued around €70 million, plus €10 million in performance-related bonuses.

Vlahovic who is only 22 right now, has all the characteristics of a great center forward and barring any significant injury, he could very well grow to be one of the best in the world in the years to come. As one of the best young Serie A players of 2021, the fact that he chose Juventus rather than a move to a Premier League club means that

young Serie A talent

are preferring to stay in the league which can only make the competition more exciting in the years to come!

Striker: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)

Another player that is now no longer in the Serie A but no matter who you support, you have got to admire Romelu Lukaku’s commitment and his desire to be among the best. The Belgian has experienced many highs and lows during his career and when his dream move to United didn’t exactly pan out the way he wanted it to, many thought that his days as an elite striker was done. However, Lukaku proved everyone wrong during his time at Inter Milan, becoming an instrumental figure in Internazionale’s success in these past couple of seasons.

Earlier we talked about Lukaku’s excellent partnership with Lautaro Martinez and the way that the pair led Inter to a 2nd place finish in Serie A as well as a Europa League final. During his first season at Inter, Lukaku managed to score 34 goals in all competitions. Last season however, Lukaku took more leadership responsibilities and managed to shot Inter Milan to their 19th scudetto title by partnering up with the likes of Martinez and Aschraf Hakimi. He was even named Serie A Player of the year of 2021 (Most Valuable Player).

The Belgian managed to score 24 goals and register 11 assists, being second best in the league in both categories behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Roslan Malinovskiy in goals and assists respectively. He was already a legend in many Inter Milan fans’ books but the way he abandoned Inter to join his former club

Chelsea

in a £97.5 million deal during the summer angered many fans. Although in hindsight, it seems that Inter leadership were very keen on the deal. Nonetheless, Romelu Lukaku totally deserves to front the attack in our 2021 Serie A Team of the Year.

 

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source: SportMob

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