ALVISE CAGNAZZO: 10 things we learned from Serie A this weekend

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Napoli continued their unbeaten start to the season by thrashing Sassuolo 4-0 on Saturday as they moved five points clear at the top of Serie A.

There were also wins for Inter Milan, Juventus and Atalanta, but AC Milan and Lazio both slipped up, suffering defeats against Torino and Salernitana respectively.

Sportsmail’s Alvise Cagnazzo has picked out 10 things we learned from this weekend’s action in Italy.

Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli are going from strength to strength after thrashing Sassuolo 4-0

Super Osimhen

Victor Osimhen’s seventh goal in Serie A showed Napoli have the best attack in Europe at the moment. 

His hat-trick against Sassuolo highlighted his impressive current physical condition after a number of injury setbacks since he arrived in Italy two years ago. 

Napoli’s team is both physical and technical but it is Osimhen who offers superlative acrobatic skills that allow Luciano Spalletti’s side to stay at the top of the standings. 

With each milestone reached, Osimhen’s price-tag gets higher and higher and the eyes of President Aurelio De Laurentiis get bigger and bigger as Europe’s leading clubs begin to circle.

Victor Osimhen (left) scored a hat-trick to lead Napoli to a comfortable win against Sassuolo

Victor Osimhen (left) scored a hat-trick to lead Napoli to a comfortable win against Sassuolo

His market value has already exceeded €120m (£103m) and it will be very difficult to convince the Italian club to accept lower offers for him, despite the presence of Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori as back-up options.

In the summer it will be difficult to keep him at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium but now it is too early to think about the future: first there is a Scudetto to win to bring joy back to the city, 32 years after Napoli’s last title triumph.

Osimhen is becoming a lethal finisher and is embarrassing defences on a weekly basis with his runs in behind and his killer instinct in the penalty area.  

Without the many injuries that have halted his progress in recent years, he would have already been the top scorer in Italy in his previous campaigns.

Osimhen has now scored in three consecutive Serie A matches for the first time since April, and is leading Napoli’s title charge.

Fagioli’s wondergoal draws Del Piero comparisons

Nicolo Fagioli’s first goal in Serie A was a masterpiece of precision, technique and  power, and was reminiscent of the goals that Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero used to score.

His curling effort that went in off the post was so similar to Del Piero’s wonderstrikes, and signified why he is destined to be a key part of Juventus’ plans moving forward.

Thus far, Massimiliano Allegri has neglected Fagioli too much, and has risked losing him on at least two occasions: in the summer just before the renewal of the contract, and in the last few weeks when despite Juventus’ alarming form, he did not play at all.

Nicolo Fagioli (R) scored a brilliant goal to clinch a 1-0 win for Juventus against Lecce

Nicolo Fagioli (R) scored a brilliant goal to clinch a 1-0 win for Juventus against Lecce

Right now, he is the only real playmaker of the team and unlike Manuel Locatelli and Leandro Paredes, who have been disastrous up to now, he has not cost the Bianconeri a single penny.

Allegri must now find a place for Fagioli in his team after his match-winning goal against Lecce. Fagioli’s current deal runs until June 2026 and the midfielder will be one of the team’s most important players in the near future. 

Without Fagioli’s moment of magic, it would have been difficult for Juventus to get the three points that bring them closer to the top four. 

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Fagioli became the first player born in 2001 to score for Juventus, and Allegri simply cannot leave him out anymore.

Calhanoglu is Inter’s new playmaker

Hakan Calhanoglu is a Turkish footballer with an Italian mentality – since being in Italy he has transformed from number 10 to number 6, becoming the second playmaker in the team. 

At Inter, Calhanoglu has finally realised he has to develop his playing style and his intensity off the ball has certainly improved.

His best match as an Inter player was the one against Sampdoria on Saturday as he provided the perfect assist for Stefan De Vrij’s goal in the 3-0 win.

Hakan Calhanoglu has become a hugely important player for Inter Milan this season

Hakan Calhanoglu has become a hugely important player for Inter Milan this season

Calhanoglu is arguably more important than Marcelo Brozovic in Inter’s current setup, and that highlights the improvements he has made to his game.

With one goal and three assists in 11 league appearances this term, Calhanoglu has shown he can make an impact in the final third, and if he continues to play at his current level it will be very difficult to see Inter finishing outside the top four. 

Leao’s struggles hurt Milan

AC Milan’s defeat by Torino corresponded with one of Rafael Leao’s worst displays in recent history as a Rossoneri player. 

When Leao plays badly, the whole Milan side suffers. 

Torino boss Ivan Juric prepared a perfect tactical setup to stifle Leao, and the winger was unable to find a decisive goal to turn the game in his team’s favour.

The multiple delays in the renewal of Leao’s contract, the tiredness from their European efforts and above all the lack of determination on the part of the team contributed to the defeat in Turin. 

Rafael Leao endured a frustrating evening as AC Milan were beaten by Torino on Sunday

Rafael Leao endured a frustrating evening as AC Milan were beaten by Torino on Sunday

For the first time, manager Stefano Pioli appeared annoyed at the mistakes of Leao, who failed to convert two big chances in the first half.

Torino were difficult to break down, leading to Pioli replacing Leao with Olivier Giroud to create a front two with Divock Origi. 

Removing the Portuguese star after 45 minutes showed Pioli’s frustration as Milan dropped points at a crucial point in the season to slip further behind Napoli at the top of the table.

Full-back Mario Rui is Europe’s assist king

Among the surprises of Napoli there is Mario Rui, the strongest and most reliable player in the team under Spalletti.

On Saturday, Napoli scored at least four goals in a match for the seventh time this season, positioning themselves in second place in Europe’s top leagues behind Bayern Munich, who have pulled off the feat on nine occasions. 

Rui has delivered six assists, demonstrating his new-found importance to the side. 

His statistics are superior to those of Milan’s Theo Hernandez – one of the best attacking full-backs in Europe. 

Mario Rui (centre) is now one of the most reliable players in Luciano Spalletti's Napoli side

Mario Rui (centre) is now one of the most reliable players in Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli side

The competition with his understudy Mathias Olivera has only led to him becoming more determined to keep his place, and he currently has the most assists out of all defenders in Europe’s top five leagues.

A full-back like that is irreplaceable and the nickname ‘Professor’ that was given to him by Spalletti is perfect for his characteristics. 

He runs and fights, is intelligent in closing down opposition attackers, and appears to be at his peak at the age of 31.

Dia is Salernitana’s main man

Boulaye Dia is probably the best signing of all the teams fighting to stay in Serie A. 

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Salernitana’s third goal against Lazio showed Dia’s courage and strength, and rewarded the intuition of sporting director Morgan De Sanctis who has always believed in the qualities of the Senegalese player. 

His resume is a stellar one after he showed glimpses of his talent for Villarreal last season, and he is now an irreplaceable forward at Salernitana, who the club could look to sign permanently next summer.

In his first season in Italy, Dia has five goals and two assists in 11 appearances – impressive numbers considering the initial difficulties Salernitana had at the start of the season under manager Davide Nicola.

Boulaye Dia helped Salernitana stun Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening

Boulaye Dia helped Salernitana stun Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening

Everyone was waiting for Krzysztof Piatek to lead the line, but in the end it has been Dia, with his speed and non-stop running, who has became the reference point for Salernitana. 

Up to now he has scored more than the Polish attacker and has generated enthusiasm in the hearts of the Salernitana fans.

His career is a continuous climb to the top: from the seventh division to Ligue 1, then the Senegalese national team, then the arrival at Villarreal to play in the Champions League. 

Now Dia is Salernitana’s strongest striker in Serie A and his only goal is to score more than 10 goals in the Italian championship while waiting to know his future.

Cabral can become Fiorentina’s go-to man

Arthur Cabral’s 90th-minute winner against Spezia has given Fiorentina some much-needed momentum.

The Brazilian forward seems to have finally understood how to be effective for La Viola after a rather timid start to the season. 

His tally of one goal and one assist in eight appearances is hardly impressive for a player that was brought in to replace Dusan Vlahovic when he joined Juventus.

Cabral has struggled to find his best form as he adapts to the rhythms of Serie A, despite the many goals he scored in Switzerland in Basel. 

Arthur Cabral (right) celebrated with his team-mates after scoring the late winner at Spezia

Arthur Cabral (right) celebrated with his team-mates after scoring the late winner at Spezia

From the 46 goals scored in the last 3 years at Basel to the three goals he has managed in the last nine months of Serie A with Fiorentina, this is the main problem for Cabral who will have to try to improve his physical condition to be a protagonist in Vincenzo Italiano’s Fiorentina team. 

The acclimatisation problems of Fiorentina’s strikers are evident with Cabral, Jonathan Ikone and Luka Jovic all far from their best.

All three, for various reasons, have failed to have a devastating impact on the team and only in recent weeks has Cabral shown that he can be the player capable of playing in different roles. 

Cabral has not shown his killer instinct in the penalty box at Fiorentina, but his goal against Spezia can be the antidote to his crisis, and the next matches will be essential to understand his role in Italiano’s tactical system.

Vicario is the best Italian goalkeeper in Serie A

Guglielmo Vicario is currently the best Italian goalkeeper in Serie A, and is destined to leave Empoli at the end of the year to take the next step in his young career.

The 6 ft 5 in youngster Vicario is a colossal figure like Dino Zoff, whose target is to become a starter for a top Italian club in the future. 

Empoli have one of the better defensive records in the bottom half and Vicario deserves to take the majority of the credit for that, which is why he is one of the most followed players by Italy boss Roberto Mancini. 

Goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario has been catching the eye with his brilliant performances

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Goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario has been catching the eye with his brilliant performances 

Wojciech Szczesny’s Juventus contract is expiring in 2024, and Vicario could potentially replace him. His salary would be extraordinarily low compared to that of the Polish shot-stopper who has been disappointing fans in recent years. 

Considering the poor quality of Empoli, Vicario’s performance in Serie A is extraordinary, almost miraculous, and he has made the most saves in the league. 

According to Opta data, Vicario is the goalkeeper who has made the most saves in Europe’s top five divisions across the last two seasons, and he has become increasingly reliable. At 26, it’s time for him to get a career upgrade.

Danilo finds new role at Juventus

Danilo has finally found the position at Juventus that will allow him to extend his career by playing as a central defender.

Whether playing in a three or four-man defence, he is at his best when deployed at the heart of the rearguard. 

The role of full-back is no longer in line with his characteristics, and it will be best for him to change his position permanently moving forward.

Danilo has great technique and a strong tactical intelligence that he is able to express only when he has the possibility to play in a central role. 

Danilo has become an important player for Juventus having moved into central defence

Danilo has become an important player for Juventus having moved into central defence

Without his presence on the pitch, Juventus would hardly have earned three points against Lecce, and Allegri decided to entrust him while leaving Leonardo Bonucci on the bench. 

The Brazilian defender has not made the decisive step of becoming a top player for Juventus but he an certainly be considered indispensable in his new role. 

Real Madrid and Manchester City have dismissed him with no regrets, but his experience could yet make him an important member of Allegri’s team.

Consigli matches Roberto Baggio

Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli made his 453rd appearance in Serie A on Saturday to move level with Italian great Roberto Baggio. 

The match against Napoli was very difficult, but Consigli made a great save from Mario Rui’s shot that earned applause all around the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. 

Consigli is 35 years old and has spent the majority of his playing days at mid-table clubs, having never quite been highly enough regarded by the top clubs, but he has still achieved great satisfaction in his sporting career. 

He has always been a reactive goalkeeper, skilled in saving penalty kicks: in Serie A he has kept out 20, positioning himself behind only Gianluca Pagliuca, with 24 saves, and Samir Handanovič with 25. 

Andrea Consigli matched Roberto Baggio's record of 453 Serie A appearances on Saturday

Andrea Consigli matched Roberto Baggio’s record of 453 Serie A appearances on Saturday

He chose the number 47 for good luck after wearing it once, playing a fantastic match and deciding not to change it again during his career and today he is experiencing the sunset of his career as a charismatic man in the Sassuolo dressing room.

His future lies within the club and Sassuolo are continuing to put their trust in him to pull off extraordinary saves. 

Despite the defeat against Napoli, Consigli can celebrate this excellent personal milestone that moves him ahead of Sebastien Frey for appearances on the field, and above all leads him to moving past Baggio in the final part of 2022.

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