You would have to have been living under a rock since the end of the World Cup not to know that Cristiano Ronaldo has moved from Real Madrid to join Juventus in a deal worth £88 million (€120 million). It’s hard to recall another player transfer in recent years that has attracted as much attention and discussion as CR7 moving to Turin, with some more cynical observers of the game suggesting that Juve has made the move as much for marketing as for football reasons.
Apart from the frenzied media coverage, what will be the impact of Ronaldo on Juventus and the rest of Serie A? The Old Lady won its 34th Serie A title in 2017-18 by 4 points, pushed all the way by a vibrant Napoli in second. These two finished well ahead of Roma in 3rd (77 points) and Inter (72), who finished in the remaining two Champions’ League places, and it would be hard to imagine the top two from last season not dominating again in 2018-19, while the addition of Ronaldo to an already strong Juventus side would seem to make a 35th title a done deal even before a ball is kicked.
Lazio (72 points) and Milan (64 points) took the two Europa League group stages places, finishing in 5th and 6th, with Atalanta in 7th getting through to the Europa League qualifying rounds.
The three teams relegated from Serie A to the second tier of Italian football are Crotone, Verona and Benevento. Coming up from Serie B to replace them are the champions Empoli and runners-up Parma in the automatic promotion places, with third-placed side Frosinone going up via the play-offs.
Although you mightn’t have heard too much about them, there have been other Serie A transfers besides CR7. Juve has also brought in the Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo from Valencia for €36.3 million and the Brazilian Douglas Costa for €40 million from Bayern Munich, along with goalkeeper Mattia Perin from Genoa for €12 million.
Other Serie A clubs have made some big moves in order to try and close the gap on Juve. Napoli has paid Bologna €22.5 million for midfielder Simone Verdi, goalkeeper Alex Meret has come in for €19.8 million from Udinese, and the Spanish midfielder Fabián has joined Napoli from Real Betis for €30 million.
Young Dutch forward Justin Kluivert has moved from Ajax to Roma for €15.53 million, along with Argentinian midfielder Javier Pastore from PSG for €22.2 million. These signings will go some way to replacing Romanian midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who Roma have sold to Inter for €24 million. Inter have also signed Argentinian striker Lautaro Martínez from Racing Club for an undisclosed fee. Another move of note is that of French midfielder Soualiho Meité from Monaco to Torino for €9 million.
Given their form of last season and the addition of CR7, Cancelo, Costa and Perin, it will come as no shock to anybody that Juve is odds-on favourite to win its eighth consecutive Serie A title, with the best price you can currently get being 5-11 with Sporting Bet. Despite only finishing 4 points behind the Old Lady last season, Napoli are some way off in the betting for the 2018-19 season, with a best price of 13-2 with BetStars (5-1 at BetVictor and Boyle Sports). You can also get 15-2 on Roma or 10-1 on Inter. Milan at 20-1 is the next best, with no-one else seriously in the bookies’ reckoning.
Palermo is the early favourite to win Serie B and gain automatic promotion back to the top tier, priced at 4-1 with 188Bet. Venezia is at 15-2, with Perugia priced at 16-1. It should be noted that the early markets for the Serie B title with most online bookmakers don’t yet feature last season’s relegated sides, Crotone, Verona and Benevento, although these will be available before the season kicks off.
Surprise, surprise, Cristiano Ronaldo is the odds-on favourite to be the top goalscorer in his first season in Serie A. You can get a best price of 4-5 with 888Bet, although he’s as short as 8-13 with William Hill. Outside of CR7, no-one else is in the bookies’ sights at this stage. Inter’s Mauro Icardi is 13-2, or you can get 12-1 on Lazio’s Ciro Immobile. Edin Dzeko (Roma) is priced at 16-1 to be the top scorer, with Napoli’s Dries Mertens at 25-1.
If you have an account with a sports book that enables you to request the odds on a bet of your own devising, you might get some good value for having a punt on Juventus not winning the title and Cristiano Ronaldo not being the Serie A top scorer. No-one is quoting on this at the moment, but it might be worth making an enquiry!