The 2021/22 Serie A season was one of the most memorable campaigns of the past decade, producing an unpredictable three-way title battle and a relegation dogfight that went down to the final day.
Inter Milan's title defence got off to a shaky start when Antonio Conte left ahead of the season opener. Simone Inzaghi took over the reins having impressed in a four-year stint at Lazio, but the departures of Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku took their toll on the Nerazzurri.
A late collapse against Bologna in April put Inter on the backfoot, while Luciano Spaletti's Napoli capitulated in spectacular style, claiming just one point from games against Roma, Fiorentina and Empoli as their title hopes dwindled.
Instead, global football's biggest sleeping giant awoke as AC Milan claimed their first Scudetto since 2011 against all the odds. Stefano Pioli's men were unflappable after the turn of the year, ending the season unbeaten in 16 as they secured the title with a 3-0 win away at Sassuolo's Mapei Stadium.
At the other end of the table, Salernitana produced a great escape that will be remembered for decades. The Granata had claimed just 13 points from 23 games and were eight points adrift from safety when Davide Nicola replaced Stefano Colantuono in mid-February. There was no immediate improvement, but Nicola's side kept battling, claiming 15 points from their last eight league games, eventually clinching survival on the final day.
The 2021/22 Serie A season will be talked about for decades to come, but who were the standout players?
GK: Mike Maignan, AC Milan
Of all the inclusions in this team of the season, Mike Maignan's might be the most obvious of all. The two-time French international was head and shoulders above the rest of Serie A's goalkeepers this term with his immense shot-stopping ability was pivotal as Milan preserved nine clean sheets in their final 11 league games to round out the season.
The 26-year-old was instrumental as Lille shocked European football to win the 2020/21 Ligue 1 title and he hit the ground running at San Siro, this time providing the foundations for Milan's title charge
Honourable mentions: David Ospina (Napoli), Guglielmo Vicario (Empoli)
RB: Juan Cuadrado, Juventus
Juan Cuadrado is one of two veteran full-backs to make the cut for this year's Serie A team of the season with Massimiliano Allegri giving the Colombian a new lease of life as his go-to man on the right side of the defence. The 2021/22 season has been a turbulent one for Juventus, who were never in the title race and fought back from a dreadful start to clinch the final top-four spot, but Cuadrado has been a rare source of consistency for Juve.
Utilised by Allegri as a right-back in a 4-2-3-1 or as a wing-back in a 3-5-2, Cuadrado has offered defensively cover but also a considerable attacking threat from deep this season, offering up four assists and four goals. The 34-year-old has been one of the Old Lady's most consistent attacking outlets this season, producing the most key passes (1.8) and crosses (1.3) per game among the Juve squad.
Honourable mentions: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Wilfried Singo (Torino), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan)
CB: Fikayo Tomori, AC Milan
2021/22 represented a good season for English players in Serie A with Tammy Abraham and Chris Smalling both enjoying strong seasons, but nobody was more impressive than Milan centre-back Fikayo Tomori. The 24-year-old has come a long way since leaving Chelsea for a career in Italy and has arguably been the most impressive English centre-back this season.
Composed on the ball with impeccable defensive position, Tomori has been elevated to cult hero status among the Milan fanbase and has acted as the perfect mentor for Pierre Kalulu, who has also enjoyed a breakthrough season at San Siro. A new contract is imminent for the defender, whose stock is growing with every coming game.
Honourable mentions: Milan Škriniar (Inter Milan), Roger Ibañez (Roma)
CB: Gleison Bremer, Torino
To oust one of Europe's most impressive centre-backs, Kalidou Koulibaly, from the team of the season is no mean feat, but Gleison Bremer has been one of the breakthrough stars of the 2021/22 Serie A campaign and has earned his place in the TOTS. Torino's rock at the back was one of the most impressive defenders in Europe this season, impressing in immense performances against Fiorentina back in January and in a goalless draw against Scudetto winners AC Milan in April.
The 25-year-old was a central figure of the Granata's defence with his game coming on leaps and bounds under a coach in Ivan Juric that prioritised defensively stability. Bremer contributed more interceptions (105) than any other player in Europe's top five leagues this season and will be subject to plenty of interest from abroad this season with Spurs and Inter heading the fight for his signature.
Honourable mentions: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Jose Palomino (Atalanta)
LB: Ivan Perisic, Inter Milan
Simone Inzaghi acquired the highly-rated Robin Gosens in January to offer competition for the wing-back spot in his 3-5-2 system, but the German never got a look-in thanks to the resurgent form of 33-year-old Ivan Perisic. The Croatian had predominantly been deployed as a winger throughout his illustrious career, but a switch to wing-back in 2021/22 produced arguably his best season to date.
Defensively immaculate and a threat going forward, Perisic notched up eight goals and seven assists in Serie A this season. Most impressive this season has been Perisic's reliability. The veteran wide man missed just three league games this season, starting all 35 in which he was involved and offering stability and leadership on the Inter left. Perisic will link up with former manager Antonio Conte at Spurs next season and will prove a huge loss for the Nerazzurri.
Honourable mentions: Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Aaron Hickey (Bologna)
CM: Marcelo Brozovic, Inter Milan
The term 'Regista' has been synonymous in Italy with Chelsea's Jorginho in recent years, but in Marcelo Brozovic, the Nerazzurri possess the finest Regista in world football. Brozovic's impact in the 2021/22 campaign was considerable with the Croatian international proving instrumental in Inter Milan's title challenge.
The 29-year-old defensive midfielder recorded the most average passes per game (73.6), and the best pass completion rate of any midfielder (92.5%) in Serie A this season. Brozovic was labelled as a vital player by Simone Inzaghi, who pinned his absence in a couple of games towards the end of the season as one of the major reasons for Inter's stumble in the title race. His calm presence and ability to progress the ball were invaluable for Inter this season
Honourable mentions: Fabian Ruiz (Napoli), Sandro Tonali (AC Milan)
CM: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lazio
In his seventh season with Lazio, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has cemented his name among the best central midfielders in Europe. The Serbian international has formed an excellent partnership with Luis Alberto to provide the perfect support for the deadly Ciro Immobile. Lazio has long fended off interest in Milinkovic-Savic and his performances this season showed why Europe's elite have been sniffing around.
The towering midfielder chimed in with 11 goals and 11 assists this season, all while adding tenacity, leadership and aerial ability to the Biancocelestri midfield. Maurizio Sarri will be desperate to keep hold of the 27-year-old this summer as he looks to build on an encouraging fifth-place finish.
Honourable mentions: Hakan Calhanoglu (Inter Milan), Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan), Luis Alberto (Lazio)
RW: Domenico Berardi, Sassuolo
While Sassuolo's 2021/22 campaign was disappointing given the talent offered by the likes of Davide Frattesi, Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca, Domenic Berardi enjoyed the most impressive season of his career. The 27-year-old's loyalty to the Neroverdi has been incredible, sticking with Sassuolo since breaking into the senior team in 2012 as a teenager, but this could mark his final season in green and white.
When Manuel Locatelli made the switch to Juventus last summer, Alessio Dionisi needed his attacking players to step up their influence and Berardi did just that. The mercurial winger scored 15 league goals in 2021/22 and lead the way in the assist charts with a mightily impressive 14. His ever-present influence in the Neroverdi's attack helped to develop the likes of Scamacca, Raspadori and the talented Hamed Traore this season.
Honourable mentions: Antonio Candreva (Sampdoria), Mattia Aramu (Venezia)
CAM: Gerard Deulofeu, Udinese
While the Giacomo Raspadori and Lorenzo Pellegrini were instrumental playmakers for their respective sides, Gerard Deulofeu wholeheartedly deserves his spot in the Serie A team of the season. The 28-year-old Spaniard was a phenomenal creative force for the Bianconeri this season, scoring 13 goals and producing five assists as Udinese steered clear of a relegation battle.
Deulofeu is a player who is well into his prime years and will be open to a move away from the Dacia Arena this summer. Top clubs in Italy will be keeping tabs on the Spaniard following an immense season in Udine.
Honourable mentions: Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Paolo Dybala (Juventus)
LW: Rafael Leao, AC Milan
The 2021/22 Serie A season proved to be the major breakthrough year for Rafael Leao. The 22-year-old winger had impressed in patches in his two previous seasons at San Siro since joining from Lille in 2019, but this season he took off, scoring 11 goals and adding eight assists as Milan claimed their first Scudetto in over a decade.
The Portuguese international has been the definition of a big-game player this term, contributing vital goals against Sampdoria, Udinese and Fiorentina to keep the title fight alive. Leao was awarded the division's MVP award for his efforts this season and has marked his presence among the best wingers in Europe.
Honourable mentions: Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
ST: Ciro Immobile, Lazio
The current pool of Serie A forwards possess immense talent and while Dusan Vlahovic and Tammy Abraham both came close, Ciro Immobile gets the nod up front for the team of the season. The 32-year-old has often flattered to deceive for the national team, but his goalscoring for Lazio is undisputed. Immobile has been untouchable at the top of the Serie A goalscoring charts since joining Lazio in 2016 and 2021/22 marked another remarkable campaign for the striker.
A 27-goal haul set Immobile six goals clear of Lautaro Martinez and Dusan Vlahovic at the top of the goalscoring charts with cup goals taking his overall season tally to 34. The Italian's telepathic understanding with box-to-box midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic helped Lazio to a fifth-place finish this season with his ability to score every type of goal securing his place in the team of the season.
Honourable mentions: Victor Osimhen (Napoli), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina/Juventus), Tammy Abraham (Roma)
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