PLAYER OF THE SEASON: Duvan Zapata (Atalanta) Goals: 23 Assists: 7
The player the season this year was not particularly close. Don’t get me wrong there were a lot of great performers this season but a striker from Bergamo was the standout star this season. Duvan Zapata had a truly great season that nobody really saw coming. He was viewed in the league as a solid Striker who can get the job done giving you the quality amount of goals in a season but what we saw this season came to a huge surprise. Maybe it’s the Brilliance of Gasparini or maybe he’s just that good but not given the opportunity to show us what he can do. Duvan Zapata season and it wasn’t even a little close. Cristiano Ronaldo was great this season as well and his impact was very valuable but duvan Zapata was just on another level. He had never scored more than 10 goals in a season that’s why it was so surprising that he ended up being the most dangerous explosive player in Italian football. He was the driving force of a Cinderella story that took Atalanta to the champions league for the first time in club history as well as securing a top-three finish that nobody saw coming. He was second in the league in goals with 23 a career high. Then if you take into account his performance in the Coppa Italia he scored 26 goals in all competitions. He just missed out on the golden boots. However, if you remove the penalties he would have won the Golden Boot easily. Fabio quagliarella had nine penalties Cristiano Ronaldo had five. I’m not suggesting that penalties are easy but duvan Zapata did it without penalties to score 23 goals in the league. It’s not only that we have seen teams and players rip up the league against some of the lesser opposition what really counts is if they have the ability to do it against the best of the best. Against the top teams, Duvan Zapata answered the bell among the top six Napoli AC Milan Juventus Lazio Roma and Torino he scored against practically all of them the bigger the moment the better he performed. He was doing this on a regular basis and I saw him go on the hottest goal-scoring streak I have ever seen. He scored two hat-tricks one in which he scored four goals. He had a relatively slow start to the season goal-scoring wise. There was a point during the year he got so hot he went from 1 goal to 18 goals in a blink of an eye there really wasn’t another placer you can give this too. There’s been a lot of players have done well this season but Zapata has been the best of the best. He displayed such a dominant season it’s hard for me to make an argument for anyone else. Whether he can repeat success is unknown at this time but based on the performances he has put in this season he is unquestionably been the best player in Italian football.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEAOSN: Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma) Goals: 4 Assists: 2
The young player of the season this year without question goes to Roma youngster Nicolo Zaniolo. Moise Kean put together a really impressive campaign on the back end of the season and Gigi Donnarumma was special at times but the Roma youngster gets the edge. Moise Kean impact came too late in the year and Gigi Donnarumma even though he was great and he’s only 20 we know how good he is it wasn’t really a breakout season because we have seen him for the last 4 years. Nicolo Zaniolo came by complete and utter surprise. In a transfer that sent Nicolo Zaniolo to Roma in exchange for Radja Nainggolan, Roma got the young sensation as he looks like the crowning Jewel of the deal. There was very little we knew about him at the time a very talented player who had done really well in Inter Milan to the youth set up but was not getting the first-team action at any point in time. When he arrived at Roma he had yet to play a game he made his debut against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. As the season progressed he got more and more involved within the team. We started to see a star emerge. A superb goal against Sassuolo got him off the mark and he just continued and continued to perform on a consistent basis. He has been the breakout star of Italian football from a little-known teenager to one of Europe’s best young players. He has developed into one of the best youngsters in the world. Killian Mbappe the PSG Superstar is the only player I believe in his age group that is better than him. That’s how strong of a campaign he had. He has the mentality of the ability and the maturity of someone much older. He’s developed into a sensational midfielder in Italian football. There’s a reason everybody wants to get their hands on this kid he has that Talent. A-6 goal 3 assist season is pretty spectacular for a debut season at 19 years old. Going into the season he had never played at that level and just a few months later he turned into one of the best young midfielders in Europe. He is a big moment player he’s come through for Roma when they needed him the most. Scoring against AC Milan in his first game against them. As well as we cannot forget his two-goal performance against Porto in the Champions League becoming only the second teenager in the history of the competition to do so. He’s a young star that’s only going to continue and continue to grow as a player. He is a player Roma need to keep their hands on as much as possible. The club is preparing a new contract to scare away clubs from luring him away from the capital. He has made a lot of intentions about this his sole intention is to be a legend for Roma. Will he stay the entire career it’s hard to say but he’s made his intentions very clear. He has been consistent for the majority of the season and has put together some pretty special performances. Nicolo Zaniolo reminds me of a young Francesco Totti I believe he’s only going to continue to develop into one of the best midfielders in Italy it was a breakout season for the Italian International he even made his debut for the national team at such a young age. Some magical stuff from Keane but Nicolo Zaniolo had already done too much damage thoroughly deserving the young player of the year.
GOALKEEPER OF THE SEASON: Salvatore Sirigu (Torino) Saves: 101 Clean Sheets: 14
The goalkeeper of the season was very tough to decide Samir Handanović had a really great season for Inter Milan leading the league in clean sheets with 17. However, Torino’s keeper Sirigu gets a nod he was the best goalkeeper this season. Even though Samir Handanovic was sensational this season he has a center back by the name of Milan skinnier in front of him arguably the best center back in Italy. It makes life a little bit easier on him. Torino has a great defense but they don’t have the Firepower in the back line that Inter Milan have. Sirigu collected 14 clean sheets in his second season with Torino. The former PSG stopper really had a breakthrough season. Torino massively overachieved their expectations. No one was expecting them to be in a European Chase much of the season. However, that’s exactly what happened Sirigu is not the only reason why but he played a big part in the success that his team had this season. Torino had a top 5 defense in Serie A. He has performed on a regular basis at a consistent level. In the big games in those big moments he has made crucial saves time and time again. There was a space of time in which Torino had a clean sheet in 10 consecutive games. That speaks volume to his impact. They may not have had a lot of big names within their team but Sirigu made big saves in the biggest games. He has saved Torino multiple points throughout this year’s campaign. Torino is a different team because of the safety net that they had in goal. Even though it was close he was the best goalkeeper this season.
MANAGER OF THE SEAOSN: Gian Piero Gasparini
The manager of the Season can only belong to one man Atalanta’s Gasparini. He has been without question the best manager this season. For what he has accomplished this season it is truly remarkable what he has done. Not just this season but over the last several years with the infrastructure that Atalanta had to endure for them to do the impossible has been truly unbelievable. Every single season Atalanta sells off its best players for the highest bidder. You can go down the line of players who have left Atalanta over the last couple of seasons. But nonetheless Gasparini continues to do magic with this team but what he has accomplished this year is his shining achievement. He has made magic with players he had to his disposal. Turning duvan Zapata into the best player in Italian football. He has orchestrated the highest scoring team in the league this season. Even more, goals then attacking minded Juventus and Napoli. The most beautiful thing about the way they play if they never give up on any game. Even when they’re losing they have that winning mentality to go for them every single game. No matter the score they always attack even if it exposes them. There’s a reason they have scored so many goals this season they have a brilliant team with a lot of great players but no matter the situation they attacked the opposition they have that winning mentality it is something Gasparini has instilled in them. He is taking Atlanta to a place he has never been before the Champions League. In club history, this has never happened. He must do what he can as soon as keep hold all the players he can. It is going to be a different season next year and champions league is an incredibly tough competition and he’s going to need to keep his star players. This has been a storybook season for Atalanta Gasparini truly displayed Magic. No one thought that this team was capable. Every season they have lost players and somehow they still end up in Europe or at least challenging it. The team changes all the time but Gasparini remains. He is the difference for this team. You can’t give him all the credit but he played an influential role in their ability to do this. Without question the manager of the season in a year of a footballing Magic he did the impossible. He is one of the best managers in Europe not many managers in the world could have taken this Atalanta team to the mountain top that Gasparini has led them to. This is going to be a dangerous team going forward he has literally led a season of Dreams.