Last season Sassuolo were one of the most entertaining sides in Serie A, yet an 11th placed finish gave their supporters little to celebrate, but in equal measure we’re not classing the season as a failure.
However, in what will be the Neroverdi’s seventh campaign in the Italian top flight, coach Roberto De Zerbi and his players will be looking to climb up the standings and possibly challenge for European qualification
For that to happen Sassuolo must find a way of turning draws into victories, with the 16 they recorded only bettered by relegation threatened Fiorentina (17), and would go a long way to bridging the gap.
The Neroverdi were also too easy to score against at times last term, so Pedro Obiang will be important in providing the defence with greater protection after the loss of Merih Demiral to reigning champions Juventus.
If everything comes together could embarking on a second Europa League journey in 12 months time.
Summer Dealings – 7/10
€18 million sounds like a lot for a club like Sassuolo, but not when you have had a talent like Merih Demiral prized away from you and the loss of Stefano Sensi to Inter was a further blow to the Neroverdi.
Securing the services of midfielder Manuel Locatelli (€9m from AC Milan) and full-back Rogerio (€5m from Juventus) after loan spells will help though. As will the addition of quality and experience after signing Pedro Obiang from West Ham United for €7m and Francesco Caputo from Empoli.
Key Man – Francesco Caputo
For too long Sassuolo’s Serie A hopes have rested on the shoulders of Domenico Berardi and the arrival of Francesco Caputo should relieve some of that pressure. The 32-year-old had a wonderful season at Empoli last season, netting 16 times despite their relegation, and will be expected to hit double figures again.
One to watch – Jeremie Boga
At 22 years old and released from the shackles of the Chelsea loan strategy, Jeremie Boga showed glimpses of the quality that saw the Premier League club entice him away from Marseille as a youngster.
The French-born Ivory Coast international made 25 league appearances for Sassuolo last year, but supporters should expect a bigger impact this campaign than three goals.
The Coach – Roberto De Zerbi
The attacking approach of coach Roberto De Zerbi impressed most onlookers during his first season with Sassuolo last term and there are very few reasons why he would change that philosophy now.
However, for a team that focuses on possession-based build-up play, the 40-year-old must find a way to stop the side conceding so many goals, although unlikely to switch from his preferred defensive line of four.
Prediction – 9th
Sassuolo should see a marginal improvement on last season, but that is unlikely to carry them beyond 9th place.