Goalkeeper: Thomas Strakosha (Lazio)
Picking a goalkeeper for the team of the season was incredibly challenging. There have been so many high-quality options this season that has been instrumental to their Club success. Samir Handanovic Szczesny and Gigi Donnarumma have all been incredibly significant and valuable to their clubs. However, on this occasion, as much as I’d really like to pick someone else. This season there’s been a lot of high-quality goalkeepers throughout the 26 games that we got to see the season. Lazio goalkeeper Thomas strakosha has been on a level all by himself this season. Lazio finished ahead of Roma for the first time in a decade. In addition to this, Lazio is having one of their best seasons in club history. The Lazio goalkeeper finishes the season with nine clean sheets with led the league. On top of that, he has made big saves in critical games throughout the campaign. When we discuss the height of Lazio, somehow, we never give credit to the goalkeeper. Inzaghi has done an outstanding job with this team as he has been able to get them to heights that no one expected from them before the season. That’s not to mention the Gulf of quality that they have in the Midfield and the League’s most potent striker in their attack. Lazio has been able to perform at an incredibly high level. Even with this, they have been in a lot of games in which a late goal was required. They have benefited more from stoppage time they any team we have seen in recent years. However, Thomas strakosha had been for a really long time, one of the most underrated goalkeepers in all of Europe. Needless to say, this season, he has proven to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He has displayed consistency on a regular basis throughout this year’s campaign. Lazio has one of the best defensive records in the entirety of Italian football this year. A large part of that is due to the performance of Thomas strakosha, who has been on a level this season. Lazio do indeed have a strong defense, but in a lot of situations, Thomas strakosha had to make a saves in critical moments the majority of the time he’s been able to pull it off. Lazio’s success deserves to be spread around to all different parts of the team that has led Lazio to be in a title race for the first time in almost a decade. They had real possibilities a potentially fighting off Juventus for the scudetto this season; they had beaten them twice already when the season was canceled. Thomas strakosha came up big in the most important games of the season. Throughout the entire campaign I don’t think there’s been a goalkeeper that has displayed more consistency. He has made hardly any errors in the whole campaign. He made a horrific mistake against Roma, but outside of that, he has had a flawless season with minimal mistakes throughout the campaign. Lazio not only overachieved expectations, but they were on an incredible unbeaten run as they have an unbeaten streak that lasted 19 games. A large part of this was due to the goalkeeper even though he does not get the success and the praise in regards to Lazio’s title race this season he has been without question the best goalkeeper this season. After some thought, it was a simple decision as he continues to justify his place as one of Europe’s Elite goalkeepers he has been under the radar for far too long. It won’t be too long before a massive Club comes in for him; that’s how good he has been for Lazio not only this season, but for years prior, he’s clearly the best goalkeeper in Italian football. His place in the team of the season just further justified that.
Left-back: Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan)
The left-back options for the team of the season were very few and far between. There’s a certain disconnect for what a left-back is actually expected to do. A lot of people misunderstand the role they have to play in a backline. It is a defensive position if you have explosive left-backs like Alex Kolarov and Theo Hernandez that’s a different situation while both of those players are worthy of recognition for what they do going forward. Over season players like this struggle defensively, which is a big problem even as a left-back, the defensiveness of a center-back is obviously more important. Still, none the less defensive performance of your backs is incredibly essential. Also, if you have the offensive explosiveness, if you cannot defend, it means next to nothing. I don’t mean to call out Hernandez, but he is the single worst defensive player in the entire league regardless of what he provides going forward. A lot of left-backs have kind of Fallen away from their priorities. The options were very few and far between, and even though you can make a good case for Alex Kolarov, there’s only one that really came to my mind when putting this team together. Inter Milan Milan Skriniar, while the Slovenian left-back is not a left-back by nature as he is more Central in his approach and his mentality, the available options didn’t give me much. I cannot provide credit for defensive efficiency; however, in Antonio Conte system Milan Skriniar plays on the left of a back 3, making him a left-back by default. Milan Skriniar is one of the best defenders in the world Inter Milan have helped him drastically become one of the best players in the league. When you talk about a player who consistently performs week in and week out regardless of opponent Milan Skriniar fits the bill. When he came to Inter Milan, he had come off a really horrific season at Sampdoria. It’s unclear how he progressed so quickly, but Milan Skriniar is arguably the best defender in Serie A. He has been so crucial to Inter Milan’s title challenge season. Even though they ultimately fell short in the title race they certainly have progressed in ways they hadn’t seen in a long time. Inter Milan have struggled ever since the treble-winning season. Even with Mauro Icardi they still found it difficult to keep themselves afloat with Juventus in the title race. There have been a lot of things that may have contributed to their success. This Season Antonio Conte coming has certainly made a big difference; however, Milan Skriniar he has been over the campaign one of the best defenders in the league, and it’s not all that debatable. Milan Skriniar is physical tough and has incredible football intelligence which makes up for his lack of speed. Winger’s & Strikers that line up on the left often have serious issues trying to have a productive match against him. He is excellent at anticipating the next move before it occurs, and he is a sturdy back that gives everyone problems. He is one of the best players in the league in terms of systemically stripping the ball from his opponent’s, whether that means finding a gap and taking the ball from them or sliding tackles that prevent goals. Ever since he joined Inter Milan two seasons ago, he continues to show why he is one of the best defenders in the world. You can name off the statistics, but that does not reflect the way he plays he is incredibly sturdy and always has a plan B he doesn’t go away you rarely see him have a bad game and once again he lands himself on the team this season. As long as he is in Serie A he will continue to be one of the best players we have in this league. As I mentioned, Milan skriniar is a center-back he was forced to go on the outside this season, and he still hasn’t missed a step this season; it was a no-brainer. He is only going to get better and become a much more refined Defender under Antonio Conte. Every season he progresses and improves to becomes a more dangerous player, the transfer value of a player like this is just ridiculous teams would have to pay a whole lot to even get into Milan to consider letting him go. He is committed to the project that Antonio Conte has outlined and shows his value within the Inter Milan team. An argument could be made that Milan Skriniar is the most valuable player in Serie A even though Inter Milan do have a good selection of Defenders without his value and impact on the team they would struggle defensively. Milan Skriniar walks into this team every season, and this year is no different clearly the best defender in Italian football, and I don’t think it’s all that close at least this season. Toughness and consistency is Milan Skriniar.
Center back: Gianluca Mancini (Roma)
Filling in at center-back in the team of the season, I’m going to recognize someone I nearly picked last year Roma Center back Gianluca Mancini. He has been a revelation this season for Roma and is a big part of their progression despite just finishing in one place ahead of where this team finished last season. They have made drastic improvements and have massively improved. This team is building into a side that could potentially be in the Champions League next season. The Paulo Fonseca project is trending up. With a little bit more time and a little bit more depth this team could be incredibly dangerous and a scudetto trophy heading back to Rome in the next five years actually might seem plausible. Gianluca Mancini arrived in Rome last season after helping Atalanta reach the champions league for the first time in their history that included finishing ahead of both Inter Milan and AC Milan last season. Roma got a relatively cheap deal for Gianluca Mancini who even last year was one of the best center backs in the league. It was really difficult not to pick him up for this list last year because he had all the makeups of a top-class Defender. However, his progression this season has been undeniable. Roma went through a really difficult stretch midway through the season, and Gianluca Mancini drastically helped him take his team largely due to injuries. He is clearly one of the best center backs in the entire league. Coming into the season last year, Roma got him for a little over 20 Million his value in the transfer market now would be around 60 that’s how much better he has gotten under Paulo Fonseca. He has been one of his most important signing especially defensively. Roma last season defensively was one of the worst defensive teams among the top six in the entire league. All of a sudden, this season, despite a rocky start and became one of their strengths. They have the third-best defense in the league this season, and that’s large to the progression and consistency of Gianluca Mancini. He is still relatively young and looks like to be the future of the backline at Roma. He will only continue to get better. The difference about a center-back is their priority is purely defensive even though he has one goal this season; his improvements efficiency and value in the team largely surround his defense. Gianluca Mancini has made a couple of mistakes throughout the season, but over 26 games, he has been without question one of the best center-backs in the league. The link-up between Gianluca Mancini and Chris Smalling has been the league’s best center-back partnership. One of the most crucial moments of the season was when Gianluca Mancini was forced to play out of position. There was a 10-game stretch in which Paulo Fonseca put him in the defensive Midfield. Due to the injuries that Roma had occurred, he had to put a Defender out of the position with the lack of options he opted for Mancini. However, this had been a blessing in disguise in the defensive midfield position; he wasn’t as effective as he was at the center back, but it wasn’t far off. Roma did not get maximum points but they got a lot more then they should have considering the injuries that they had to deal with. Roma have finally found a future at the position someone who will dedicate themselves and commitment to the project. Paulo Fonseca system fits him perfectly. What made him so effective this year it’s his ability to adapt to situations. Without thinking, he was put in the defensive Midfield and grasp it immediately. Beyond that, his versatility has made him a huge asset to a Roma team that’s made incredible improvements from last season. Primarily due to the the partnership as a whole, but Gianluca Mancini occasionally makes mistakes, but his style of play has made him very difficult to deal with. He is not physically imposing in size, but he is as tough as any defender in the league despite his small size. He is nasty he makes you uncomfortable he provide something that causes discomfort from anyone that’s in his area. On top of that he’s quite athletic and really explosive for a thin player. He can come forward and contribute to the attack. The center-backs do play a role in the attack even though the priority of their positions is defensive; they have had such a potent forward line. You could see even in the early days at Roma Gianluca Mancini becoming a vocal leader in the backline a very high level of intelligence the scary thing is he’s only going to get better he’s still in his early twenties, and he’s already one of the best center-backs in the entire league. This was his breakout season he will be a problem for years to come as he walks into the team of the season having outclassed more experience Defenders that’s how good he has been this season.