Zola names Insigne as his heir

Gianfranco Zola believes Inter remain the favourite to win Scudetto and claims Lorenzo Insigne can become the ‘Magic Box’ of Serie A.

The former striker previewed the upcoming Serie A campaign in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 55-year-old believes the season will be “balanced” but sees Inter ahead of their competitors.

“Inter are in pole because the defending champions are always the favourites, then I see Milan, Juventus, Napoli and Atalanta. Roma and Lazio will be entertaining to watch,” the former Chelsea star said.

The Nerazzurri won the Serie A title under Antonio Conte last term, but the former Chelsea coach left the club due to disagreements with the club over their transfer strategies.

Inter needed to sell one of their stars to keep the books balanced, so Achraf Hakimi joined PSG in a €71m deal, while Simone Inzaghi replaced Conte at Inter, signing a two-year deal.

“Inzaghi has done really well at Lazio so he can continue on Conte’s path,” Zola said.

“Romelu Lukaku has improved a lot with Conte. He used to be accused of having a bad first touch and not being clinical enough. Now he is a complete striker who makes the rest of the team play well.

“Hakan Calhanoglu has great qualities, but it won’t be easy to replace Christian Eriksen who played a crucial role in the second part of the season. Don’t forget Inter have Barella who often delivers the final ball.”

Milan have signed Olivier Giroud and are building a team with a mix of young and experienced players.

“I know Olivier well, he is a great football and a nice guy. I like Milan’s formula because I experienced it during my career,” Zola said.

“When I was younger I tried to take Maradona or Careca’s spot. When I was older, I didn’t want Frank Lampard, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink or any other spring chicken to take my place.”

Zola was part of Maurizio Sarri’s coaching staff when the Tuscan tactician was in charge of Chelsea in 2018-19. The former Blues, Napoli and Juventus coach has now signed a two-year deal with Lazio, what does Magix Box expect?

“He must be put in the right conditions to work well, Lazio will change their tactics, but it won’t take long before the players understand what the coach wants.”

What does he expect from other Serie A clubs, such as Juventus, Roma and Napoli?

“I expect a lot from Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala. The Argentinean struggled due to injuries last season, but he has amazing qualities,” Zola said.

“Cristiano Ronaldo will score more than 20 goals. However, it remains to be seen whether his movements will suit Juventus’ system.

“I am curious to see José Mourinho at Roma. He has a good team and José has the experience to handle difficult situations and raise the level.

“I hope this will be Nicolò Zaniolo’s season, he can become a star for the Azzurri.

“Napoli can do well if Kalidou Kouliably stays. Victor Osimhen is perfect for Luciano Spalletti, because he attacks the space with the right tempo and Insigne has football in his DNA. He can be the Zola of the next Serie A campaign, even if I used to score more goals.”