Serie A Team of the Decade: Buffon & Higuain in but no Pogba

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With 2020 approaching, Goal has decided to pick out the best players to have graced the Italian top-flight over the past 10 years

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    GK: Gianluigi Buffon

    The greatest goalkeeper the Italian game has ever seen, Gianluigi Buffon has won a staggering seven Scudetti in the past decade alone.

    The Tuscan was included in the Serie A Team of the Year five times, while he was also named Player of the Season in 2017, at the age of 39.

    However, as well as being a fantastic shot-stopper, the Italy icon is also a leader of men, one of the most respected figures in world football and – in spite of the sustained excellence of Samir Handanovic – the obvious choice for our No.1 shirt.

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    CB: Andrea Barzagli

    Undoubtedly the most under-rated member of Juventus' famed 'BBC' backline but arguably the best natural defender.

    Indeed, Andrea Barzagli was never the biggest, strongest or quickest of defenders, so he used his awareness, anticipation and perfect positional sense to nullify attackers.

    A class act on and off the field, the humble but brilliant Barzagli won eight Scudetti with Juventus and was included in the Serie A Team of the Year on four occasions (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016).

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    CB: Leonardo Bonucci

    Antonio Conte's decision to employ a three-man defence at Juventus was one of the most important tactical decisions of the decade, as it laid the foundation for an era of unprecedented success in Turin.

    Nobody benefitted more from the formation change than Leonardo Bonucci, a player previously described as a midfielder masquerading as a centre-back, as it allowed him to regularly step out of the backline and display his wonderful range of passing safe in the knowledge that Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini had him covered.

    Bonucci may have had one disastrous season at AC Milan but, overall, he was a part of seven Scudetto-winning sides, and was even crowned Serie A Player of the Year in 2016.

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    CB: Giorgio Chiellini

    The ideal mix of brains and brawn, Giorgio Chiellini has always been a gentleman off the field but a beast on it.

    The man with the master's degree in business administration is the undisputed leader of the Juventus defence, a centre-half renowned for his focus, drive, awareness, bravery, timing - and knowing every trick in the book when it comes to upsetting opposition strikers.

    Chiellini was a key man in every single one of the Bianconeri's eight consecutive Scudetti, as underlined by his inclusion in the Serie A Team of the Year on four occasions (2013, 2015, 2016, 2018).

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    RW: Jose Callejon

    Stephan Lichtsteiner collected a Serie A winners' medal at the end of all seven of his seasons at Juventus, while Christian Maggio was included in the league's Team of the Year on three occasions (2011, 2012, 2013) during his time at Napoli.

    However, for this particular wing-back berth, we have decided to go with a more offensive right-sided player in Jose Callejon.

    As wingers go, the Spaniard is as hard-working as they come, while he has also been one of the most consistently productive players in Italy since joining Napoli from Real Madrid in 2013, directly involved in more than 110 goals for the Partenopei.

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    CM: Radja Nainggolan

    Radja Nainggolan is an outspoken character and his off-field behaviour has been the subject of much controversy throughout a Serie A career that has taken in spells at Cagliari, Roma and Inter.

    However, on the field, there have been few – if any – more dynamic midfielders in the world over the past 10 years.

    A wonderfully versatile and aggressive player with a seemingly endless supply of energy and no shortage of technique, Nainggolan made the Serie A Team of the Year four times in a row between 2015 and 2018, underlining both his class and consistency.

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    CM: Andrea Pirlo

    Andrea Pirlo's free transfer from AC Milan to Juventus in 2011 changed the entire landscape of Italian football.

    It was, as Buffon called it, "the deal of the century", one which helped turn a Bianconeri side coming off the back of consecutive seventh-placed finishes into champions, sparking the most sustained spell of success Serie A had ever seen.

    With the majestic Pirlo pulling the strings in the middle of the park, Juve won four Scudetti in a row, with the peerless playmaker named Player of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

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    CM: Marek Hamsik

    A Napoli legend, Marek Hamsik will go down as one of the finest players ever to grace Serie A.

    The Slovakia star, described as Pavel Nedved's heir by the Czech himself, spent just over 11 years at the San Paolo, endearing himself to Partenopei supporters with his versatility, vision and, above all else, commitment to the cause.

    Between 2010 and today, no midfielder has scored more goals (74) or racked up as many assists (69) as Hamsik in Italian top-flight football, who was also named in the Serie A Team of the Year three times (2012, 2016, 2017).

  9. LW: Senad Lulic

    Signed from Young Boys in 2011 for just over €3 million (£2.6m/$3.3m), Senad Lulic is destined to go down as one of the finest transfers in Lazio's history.

    A versatile, two-footed talent who has made the Biancocelesti's left flank his own, the Bosnian had already become a crowd favourite before achieving immortal status with his winner in the Coppa Italia final against city rivals Roma in 2013.

    Lulic has since gone on to claim the captaincy, just reward for his passion for the club and the fact that, at 33, he remains one of the most reliable performers in Serie A.

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    FW: Gonzalo Higuain

    Gonzalo Higuain may have had his struggles in recent years, most infamously during loan spells at AC Milan and Chelsea, but there can be no questioning the Argentine's goalscoring prowess in Serie A.

    The forward may have only arrived in Italy in 2013, from Real Madrid, but Higuain ranks third in terms of goals scored over the past decade, with 118 in just 195 appearances.

    As well as firing Juventus to two Scudetti, Higuain also made history at Napoli in 2015-16 by netting 36 times to break the goal record for a single Serie A season.

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    FW: Antonio Di Natale

    Antonio Di Natale did not just terrorise defences during his Serie A career, he also waged war on Father Time himself.

    The diminutive Neapolitan claimed his first Capocannoniere crown at 33 years of age, in 2010, and then successfully defended his title the following season - achievements made all the more remarkable for the fact that he was lining up for provincial outfit Udinese.

    Despite retiring in 2016, Di Natale scored a staggering 125 goals during the decade - more than any other player in Serie A.

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    Honourable Mentions

    Handanovic, Lichtsteiner and Maggio weren't the only players to narrowly miss out on inclusion in defence.

    Napoli colossus Kalidou Koulibaly went desperately close to breaking up the 'BBC', while Davide Astori and Francesco Acerbi were also in the discussion for defensive inclusions.

    Arturo Vidal, Allan, Daniele De Rossi, Paul Pogba and Miralem Pjanic were all contenders in midfield, with Kwadwo Asamoah and Alex Sandro challenging Lulic for the berth on the left flank.

    Up front, meanwhile, Higuain and Di Natale had to hold off fierce competition from Mauro Icardi, Dries Mertens, Rodrigo Palacio, Alejandro Gomez, Josip Ilicic, Paulo Dybala, Francesco Totti and Edinson Cavani.

    Cristiano Ronaldo might be the biggest name to have played in the league over the last 10 years, and despite helping Juventus to their eighth straight Scudetti, it would be unfair to select the Portuguese on reputation alone after just one season in Italy.

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    How they line up

    So, there you have it, our Serie A Team of the Decade!

    But what do you make of our selections? Are there any glaring omissions, in your opinion?

    Post your thoughts – and your own line-ups – in the comments...