Thursday, February 19 th, 2015
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SerieAddicted awards: the best 20 players in 2014
Who were the best footballers in the solar year? Juventus and Roma dominate our top-20, but other seven teams are also represented
As you already know, we are fond on Italian football. We watch Serie A games every week and we have been trying to explain you and comment every tactic change, individual performance and coach's decision. So, who could compile a rank of the best 2014's Serie A players better than us? Each contributor compiled a top-20 and to each position was assigned a different score, from 20 to 1. Each personal rank was summed up to set up the final one. The result was revealed today.

Ten players out of 20 wear Juventus or Roma jersey, the two sides that dominated the last year in Italy, but Inter, Napoli, Fiorentina, Udinese, Lazio, Torino and Verona are also represented, while Milan is totally absent from the rank, as Honda and De Jong didn't get enough votes and Mario Balotelli obtained only 2 points. The first footballer to be excluded from the top 20 is Giuseppe Rossi, Fiorentina's Italian striker who was picked on by many injuries in the last year. Enjoy our "award ceremony" and happy new year!

20 - Samir Handanović (Inter)

If Inter is still figtting for a Champions League place, it is thanks to their great keeper. The Slovenian international was the best player of the team so far, saving 6 consecutive penalties (out of seven in the season). He trails only Gianluca Pagliuca in this very special Serie A ranking, though the former Inter and Sampdoria legend played three times as many games as Handanovic. He’s not as famous as some colleagues of his just because he’s from a relatively small country and Inter is going through dire straits, but it is hard to find a better “n. 1” in Serie A, at the moment. (John Cavenaghi)

19 - Juan Manuel Iturbe (Verona, Roma)

If he would have continued to play as he did in the last season, he could have entered in the top five of our awards. But Juan Manuel Iturbe's integration in Garcia's scheme is still not complete, as he's barely playing. But it's not his fault only as the 21-year old suffered a bad injury after Juve-Roma (when he made an assist) and he's still struggling to find his form. The fact that Iturbe was the most expensive signing of the past summer transfer window is justified by what he did with Hellas Verona. Data say: eight goals and four assists. We add: his dribbling, bursts of speed and ball control are not ordinary skills. Consider his strength and grit and you'll have the picture. In the 2014 the Argentinian revealed us that has the potential to become one of the best wingers around. In the 2015 he'll need to confirm it. (Federico Formica)

18 - Mauro Icardi (Inter)
Almost unanimously considered as one of the most talented and promising strikers in the world, the 21-year-old Mauro Icardi started to show why. In a very difficult year for the black-and-blue colors, Inter’s striker was one of the few reasons to be happy. He scored almost 20 goals in 2014, mostly from inside the box. Many see him as the new Vieri, although with less power and more finesse. He’s excellent with both feet and very solid in the aerial game. He can play well with his back towards the goal. He showed two main weaknesses: leadership skills and ability to play for the team. His football abilities have been matched by his social network activity, something that neither his club nor his fans are particularly happy about. In addition, whenever he does not score, it is difficult to see a tangible contribution to his teammates. Between him and Mateo Kovacic, he’s the most likely to leave the team, should Inter need to make money out of them. (John Cavenaghi)

17 - Francesco Totti (Roma)
17th place might seem a bit irrespective for a football legend, but don't forget that we are talking about a 38-year old footballer. Is a miracle that he's still delighting Serie A fans, let alone being included in a top 20. Along with Alessio Cerci and Gervinho, Totti was the best assist-man of the past season (10), when he perfectly fitted in the new coach's schemes. Il Capitano's long balls and no look passes for Gervinho were devastating in the last term. Although in this 2014-2015 Totti seems he's struggling a bit, he left his mark on the Champions League expedition with a fantastic lob to Joe Hart in Man City- Roma and a winning free-kick to CSKA. Oh, and he became the oldest scorer ever of the CL. (Federico Formica)

16 - Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Despite his thirty-six year of age Buffon is still one of the world’s most effective goalkeepers and has been shortlisted together with Neuer, Curtois and Beto for UEFA’s Team of the Year. His saves allowed Juventus to win their third consecutive Scudetto last spring and his personal fifth with the Turin based club. The former world champion conceded no more than 20 goals in Serie A last season and lately announced his permanence to Juventus until the end of 2017. The goalie should also continue captaining the Italian national team throughout the Euro2016 qualifications, where his former teammate and coach Antonio Conte considers him as a first choice. (Stefano Garini)

15 - Radja Nainggolan (Roma)

The Belgian player was one of the most contended players during the January 2014 transfer window and chose to leave Cagliari to join Roma. The dynamic midfielder proved to deserve a top team as his performances consistently perfected throughout the year and his personality earned him a stable spot in the fans’ good graces. The Ninja is currently forming one of Europe’s finest midfields with Miralem Pjanic and Daniele De Rossi, de facto lightening Kevin Strootman’s absence. Nainggolan scored four goals already in the 2014-2015 season, converting himself in an irreplaceable pillar for Garcia's side. Serie A finally discovered a new box-to-box midfielder. (Stefano Garini)

14 - Ciro Immobile (Torino, Borussia Dortmund)
The 24-year old promising striker finally became a goal machine. While in the 2011-12 Immobile was the Serie B top scorer when he traded his plight at Pescara, in the last season he beat Tevez's competition and was the Serie A's best scorer wearing Torino's jersey, where he formed a fantastic duo with Alessio Cerci. The 22 goals he netted earned him a World Cup call for Italy, where he was only partially involved in the disaster, as Prandelli gave him 89 minutes only. Torino and Juventus, that owned the 50% each of Ciro, didn't trust in him and sold him to Borussia Dortmund, where Immobile gradually endeared Jurgen Klopp. After having been benched many times in the first part of the season, Ciro started to familiarise with the German football and with the Champions League atmosphere, as he scored 4 goals in 4 games in the CL already and 3 in 7 caps in the Bundesliga. Definitely the best Italian footballer abroad along with Graziano Pellé. (Federico Formica)

13 - Antonio Candreva (Lazio)
It was a two-faced 2014 for the 27-year old forward. After a largley forgettable season for Lazio (despite he gave a huge contribution with 12 goals and 6 assists), Candreva was called by Cesare Prandelli for the World Cup in Brazil, where he managed to don't lose face in a disastrous campaign for the Azzurri, with an assist in his game bag. In the first part of the current season Candreva confirmed himself as a pillar for the Biancocelesti and his skills are even more enhanced by Pioli's scheme: an offensive 4-3-3, where he plays as a right winger. An injury has been keeping him away from the pitch for two months, but he's preparing for a successful 2015, as Lazio is fighting for a Champions League spot. His crosses, runs and goals will be crucial for le Aquile. (Federico Formica)

12 - Antonio Di Natale (Udinese)
Few words truthfully describe Totò’s game, but fortunately numbers lend a helping hand: thirty-seven years of age, more than 400 appearances and 200 goals in Serie A, with an average of 24 per year in the past five seasons. Numbers which make him the best scorer in the top-5 European leagues in the past five years if we were to consider only humans and therefore exclude Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi from the competition. Udinese’s fortune (and captain) announced his retirement more than once in the past seasons but fortunately always changed his mind as he “still enjoys playing football as a kid would”. Hopefully for all football fans the legend won’t stop celebrating his nets at the end of the 2014/15 season and will keep on delighting us with pearls worthy of another FIFA Puskas award. (Stefano Garini)

11 - José María Callejón (Napoli)
When the Spaniard joined Napoli in the summer of 2013 somebody tagged him as “Real Madrid fodder”, moking the Partenopei for spending €10 million for him. Part of the 2013 and especially the 2014 proved that the Southern Italian club had good reasons to bet on this amazing right forward, who scored 15 times in the last season and 8 in the current one already. Along with Higuain, Callejon was the most dangerous player of the team with his great timing in overlapping and his precision in the shooting range. That's more: Callejon proved himself as the perfect winger for Benitez as he's able to press the opponent up to his own third and to run forward few seconds later, showing pace and team spirit. The only dark spot in the 2014 is the World Cup, that he missed. Considering Spain's outcome, Del Bosque could have regretted not calling him. (Federico Formica)

10 - Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli)
The 10th position in this rank might appear a bit mediocre one for the most expensive signing of the 2013-2014's transfer market. Mister 37 million came from Real Madrid to help Napoli winning the Serie A after a 23-year drought and going through in the Champions League. But things took a different turn, as Napoli never seriously competed with Juve and Roma and was incredibly knocked-out in the group stage despite having harvested 12 points (just to make a comparison Juventus went through with 10 this season). To make things even worse, El Pipita lost the World Cup final to Germany. Let's admit it: life was mean with Gonzalo in 2014, but it would be unkind to say that he didn't give it all to change his destiny. He scored 22 goals with Napoli in the past season and 11 in the current one already, he was Napoli's point of reference after Cavani's departure and he gave a good impression at Brazil 2014, even scoring a crucial goal in the quarter final to Belgium. The 2014-2015 season didn't start as he dreamed, as Napoli was immediately kicked-out from the Champions League, and that hugely frustrated Gonzalo, who partially took refuge in the Supercoppa Italiana, that Napoli raised in Doha in the 23rd December beating Juve at the shoot-outs. (Federico Formica)

9 - Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Everyone will remember Chiellini's year for the bite he suffered from Luis Suarez in the last World Cup's Italy vs Uruguay. But there's something more that deserves to be told, and that earned to the 30-year old defender the ninth place of our rank. Chiellini has become the leader of Juventus' unbeatable defence and was definitely converted by Conte in a centre-back, although he was originally a full-back. His position didn't change after Allegri's switch to a 4-men backline. There's a reason for that: every coach can trust in Chiellini without any reason to suppose he'll be let down. 2.5 tackles, almost 4 clearances and three aerial duels won are a brief stunning summary of his last season. In the current one, Chiellini is keeping his standards high.

8 - Gervinho (Roma)

Here's another Premier League waste that Serie A converted in a game-changer. We don't really know why he struggled so much at Arsenal but the Ivorian made Italian defenders lifes' a hell and was crucial in Roma's resurgence last season. His dribbles and pace were devastating as Italian football isn't used to this kind of players anymore (with the exception of Juan Cuadrado, obviously) and “er tendina” contributed to Roma's second place with 9 goals and 10 assists. His offensive runs frequently outnumber the opponent, making things easier for his team-mates. Gervinho's performances have been a bit less impressive in the 2014-15 season, although he has already scored three goals in Champions League and two in Serie A so far. Have Serie A defenders got the knack of his tricks already? It's too early to give a conclusive answer. This year was topped with two goals and an assist in three World Cup games with Ivory Coast. (Federico Formica)

7 - Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina)
The former Udinese winger went from being a promising player, to a worldwide star in 2014. The Colombian attacker was the main protagonist of Fiorentina’s successful, yet unlucky season, mainly due to the star-studded injury list. Missing both Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi for very long stints, la Viola found a leader in Juan Cuadrado. His speed and dribbling skills are second to none in Serie A, and his long-range shots have become a real threat for most keepers in the league. He scored the key goal in the Coppa Italia semifinal vs. Udinese, giving a 3-2 aggregate edge to his team, to cap a 43 games and 15 goals season. As if this weren’t enough, he was a star of the surprising Colombian national team at the Brazilian World Cup, which he closed with one goal in the opening match and as the assist leader of the entire competition with four (tied with Kroos). One of the few stars left in Italy: yes, but for how long? (John Cavenaghi)

6 - Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Class and magic are ageless, and inevitably the same thing can be said about Andrea Pirlo’s game. Passes and timing are still impeccable and there’s no doubt why Juventus secured him through another two-year contract. In fact, the midfielder keeps performing at top levels and seriously contributed to Juventus’ third Scudetto in a row and his personal fifth. Tinkerbell, as he used to be called throughout the Milan era, celebrated his one hundredth appearance in the Champions League during the home game against Olympiakos this November, unsurprisingly scoring a magnificent free-kick right from the edge of the area which went up and down over the wall in a flash. During 2014, Pirlo was also voted best Serie A player for the third year in a row by Italian Footballer’s Association (AIC). (Stefano Garini)

5 - Miralem Pjanić (Roma)
Fifth place together with Arturo Vidal is not such a bad result for the Bosnian star, who finally proved himself as one of the best playmakers in Europe. His performances helped Roma to reach a stunning second place last season (2,1 key passes per game is not bad) when he levelled the goal-record he set in Lyon in the 2009-2010 season: six goals. In the current one, Pjanić has already harvested three goals and four assists, but data don't say all the truth about this gifted playmaker. Roma hugely miss him when he's out, as the Bosnian is crucial in distributing the ball and in free-kicks. If he'll stay for a long time, Pjanić is a serious candidate in breaking Mihailovic's goal record from free-kicks (28), which is going to be broken by Pirlo soon (27). In the 2014, Pjanić got one of the greatest satisfactions ever: playing in a World Cup with Bosnia's jersey. Unfortunately the Brazilian campaign was interrupted at the end of the Group stage. In the current season it seems basically impossible not to see his name in Roma's teamsheet. (Federico Formica)

4 - Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Another memorable year for the Chilean. Had he played at his usual standard in the first half of the current season, he would have maybe reached the podium in this rank, but King Arturo has been struggling with injuries since the last part of the 2013-2014 season, and these troubles prevented him to shine in the 2014 World Cup. It's still unclear whether he'll stay at Juventus (the fact that he extended his contract until 2017 hardly means something in today's football), what is certain is his contribution in Juve's third title in a row with 11 goals, 5 assists and many amazing performances. 2013 was a better year for King Arturo but he's probably the best box-to-box midfielder in Serie A and also in 2014 he was a crucial footballer in Juventus' success. (Federico Formica)

3 - Mehdi Benatia (Roma)
Although he's not a Serie A player anymore, he absolutely deserves this placement. Everybody in Italy knew he was a good defender as he played in Serie A since 2010 to the last summer. But his first – and last – year at Roma was simply stunning. After two seasons in which the Giallorossi's backline leaked as a sieve, Garcia managed to put order back there, converting Roma's defence into one of the best in Europe (25 goals conceded in 28 games). Mehdi Benatia had a crucial role in this process. He was an authentic commander, hard as a rock in tackles and marking, soft in touching the ball and gifted in distributing it. Benatia also scored 5 goals with fantastic offensive runs or headers from corner kicks. It's a shame he left Roma in such a bad way, saying he wanted to stay while he put pressure on Sabatini and Garcia to leave, mostly through statements to TVs and newspapers. But in the end, he's playing in the strongest team around – Bayern Munich – and he fully deserves it. But he could have been a worthy heir of Aldair wearing the Giallorossi's jersey. (Federico Formica)


2 - Paul Pogba (Juventus)

He was the only footballer able to challenge Tevez's domination in this rank. After ending 2013 with the European Golden Boy award in his hands (comparable to the sub-21 Ballon d’Or) the Frenchman hasn’t stopped amazing football fans with his skills during 2014. The young talent consistently earned more confidence as his time on the field was second to none with the Bianconeri during the 2013/14 season. The game time amassed together with his immense class granted him Deschamps’ call for the World Cup in Brazil, where he made it to the quarter finals and proved the world what he is capable of. Deservedly being appointed as best young player of the competition. Juventus managed to withhold their number 6 during the summer transfer window despite the numerous offers presented from Europe’s finest. Their choice was worth the turndowns as Pogba kept on performing as a world-class star. Eventually deserving a spot in the top 23 chart for the Ballon d’Or (not surprisingly the youngest to make the cut), and also earned a nominee in the twelve-man shortlist as one of UEFA’s team of the year midfielders. (Stefano Garini)

1 - Carlos Tevez (Juventus)
Let's say it clearly: Tevez is one of the best deals Juventus have ever made. He came in Turin for 9 million among skepticism (in this website we criticized his signing, and we were wrong) but he proved to be a leader, a ruthless striker, the number 10 Juventus lacked for some years. When he joined Juventus, everybody thought his career was at the sunset and the Bianconeri were at their second title in a row already: how in the hell could Conte improve such a team? The answer is brief: with Carlos Tevez. He adapted to Italian football in one day as el Apache started to score since his first official game (in the Supercoppa Italiana vs Lazio) and he has never stopped: 21 goals and 10 assists in the last season, 12+5 in the current one. In 2014, the Italian football fans discovered an all-round forward: shrewd, technically gifted, versatile and adaptable. He converted a winning team into a legendary side. Even better, his renowned bad character never caused trouble neither to Conte nor to Allegri. Ferguson said in his autobiography that he always had a good relationship with Carlitos. Was Roberto Mancini maybe the problem? The only downside on this year is that he watched the World Cup from his sofa. (Federico Formica)

Ranks from our contributors:
Federico Formica: Tevez, Gervinho, Vidal, Benatia, Immobile, Higuain, Cuadrado, Pogba, Pjanic, Handanovic, Totti, Pirlo, Callejon, Parolo, Nainggolan, Chiellini, Cerci, Toni, Balotelli, Candreva
Stefano Garini: Pogba, Tevez, Pjanic, Vidal, Strootman, Pirlo, Callejon, DI Natale, Higuain, Cuadrado, Candreva, Perin, Nainggolan, Benatia, Manolas, Buffon, Rossi, Lichtsteiner, De Jong, Dybala
Samuel Still: Tevez, Benatia, Cuadrado, Handanovic, Chiellini, Gervinho, Di Natale, Buffon, Pogba, Pirlo, Pjanic, Higuain, Callejon, De Jong, Iturbe, Immobile, Vidal, Perin, Palacio, Licthsteiner
Jem Bosatta: Benatia, Tevez, Rossi, Pjanic, Immobile, Gervinho, Pogba, Vidal, Maicon, Cerci, Parolo, Castan, Pirlo, De Sanctis, Iturbe, Callejon, Toni, Kovacic, Berardi, Nagatomo
Alessio Manes: Tevez, Benatia, Higuain, Vidal, Pogba, Gervinho, Iturbe,  Llorente, Berardi, Barzagli, De Sanctis, Strootman, Pjanic, Marchisio, Totti, Darmian, Florenzi, Castan, De Rossi, Bonucci
Thomas Shotton: Tevez, Pogba, Cuadrado, Icardi, Pjanic, Candreva, Vazquez, Dybala, Benatia, Chiellini, Vidal, Palacio, Pirlo, Strootman, Lucarelli, Diamanti, Guarin, Acerbi, Allan, Tonelli
Mohamed Ezzat: Pogba, Tevez, Pirlo, Totti, Honda, Abate, Icardi, Gervinho, Vidal, Di Natale, Hamsik, Higuain, Buffon, Toni, Callejon, Menez, Candreva, De Jong, Pjanic, Romero
Shaan Sengupta: Chiellini, Bonucci, Cuadrado, Candreva, Tevez, Benatia, Rugani, Buffon, Marchisio, Pogba, Nainggolan, Gervinho, Pirlo, Di Natale, Menez, Mertens, Callejon, Yanga Mbiwa, Pjanic, Kovacic
Anthony Pepe: Pogba, Pirlo, Chiellini, Callejon, Nainggolan, Cuadrado, Di Natale, Pjanic, Darmian, Tevez, Immobile, Perin, Kovacic, Vidal, Gervinho, Candreva, Iturbe, Insigne, Totti, De Jong

Monday, December 29 th, 2014
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