Despite the 2019/20 season being their 13th consecutive season in Serie A, Genoa are perhaps one of the lesser known sides in Italy’s top flight.
This is in part due to the recent dominance of sides like Juventus, and partly due to their success dating way back into the annals of history.
Formed in 1893, Genoa are the oldest side in Italian football. In terms of titles, they are actually the country’s fourth-most successful club, having won the top flight on nine occasions. The problem, though, is that the last of them came in 1924.
In recent years, for the most part, they’ve been a moderately successful mid-table side. A sixth-place finish in 2014/15 is the high water mark for a side that have seen plenty of talented players come through the ranks – although their place just outside the relegation zone in 2019/20 is worrying.
The highly-competitive nature of the modern football environment – plus some scandals and financial crises for good measure – mean Genoa have found it hard to hold onto their star players.
And so here’s a team they could assemble from all the well-known (some less so than others) active players they have sold in recent years.
Goalkeeper: Mattia Perin
Genoa apps: 160
Current club: Genoa (on loan from Juventus)
Career value: £13.23m
He may be back at Genoa for the second half of the 2019/20 campaign, but Mattia Perin is no longer a permanent part of the club having been sold to Juventus in 2018.
Perrin first joined Genoa has a 16-year-old, linking up with their youth teams and rose through the ranks to become the club’s number one goalkeeper, via a couple of loan spells. His performances earned the 27-year-old a move to Juventus, but appearances have been a rarity for Perrin given those players in front of him – leading to his loan to Genoa in January.
Right-back: Sime Vrsaljko
Genoa apps: 23
Current club: Atletico Madrid
Career value: £29.59m
Having spent the early years of his career with Dinamo Zagreb, Sime Vrsaljko made his first move outside of Croatia in joining Genoa in 2013.
The right-back spent just one season Genoa, with his 23 appearances only shortened by an injury spell towards the end of the campaign. But his time on the pitch was enough to persuade Sassuolo to sign him, becoming a key part of their defence that secured a European spot. Vrsaljko then moved to Atletico Madrid and made a name for himself as one of La Liga’s best right-backs, although his career has halted by injury problems.
Genoa apps: 51
Current club: Arsenal
Career value: £38.07m
Before making his name in Germany the Greek defender spent two seasons in Italy with Genoa from 2008 to 2010 and became a regular in the line-up and a fan-favourite.
After a complicated and temporary switch to Milan, he joined Werder Bremen on a season-long loan for the 2011/12 campaign, although he soon impressed enough to earn a €5m transfer. The no-nonsense Greece international has since moved to Dortmund where he became a regular under Thomas Tuchel, before heading to Arsenal in the summer of 2018.
Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci
Genoa apps: 0
Current club: Juventus
Career value: £96.34m
What could have been… Although he never played for the club, Bonucci was, for a short time, a Genoa-owned player. Having undergone a medical in June, he was officially announced as a Genoa player on July 1 2009. However, just a day later he was transferred to Bari in a co-ownership deal. Very odd.
How Genoa must regret their actions now. Bonucci became a regular at Bari in the 2009/10 season before Juventus swooped. The Italian international has developed into one of the best and most sought-after centre-backs in world football since, and after winning seven Serie A titles with the Old Lady, made the switch to AC Milan in 2017. Bonucci’s stay at the San Siro lasted just a single campaign before returning to Juventus at the start of last season to add another title.
Left-back: Domenico Criscito
Genoa apps: 222
Current club: Genoa
Career value: £30.56m
The Italian international has spent three spells with Genoa. He came up through the club’s academy before spending some time with Juventus. He returned to enjoy three seasons between 2008 and 2011 before moving to Russia and Zenit.
Criscito won two Russian Premier League titles with Zenit while earning 26 Italy caps, before returning to Genoa once again in the summer of 2018 and being named captain.
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Defensive midfielder: Tomas Rincon
Genoa apps: 82
Current club: Torino
Career value: £16m
The tenacious midfielder joined a long list of talented players to have left Genoa in January 2017, moving to Juventus for £6.8m.
After making just 13 Serie A appearances for the Old Lady, he made the short trip to Torino on loan where he has since made the move permanent since January 2018.
Defensive midfielder: Valon Behrami
Genoa apps: 32
Current club: Genoa
Career value: £30.42m
Valon Behrami first joined Genoa in 2003, when he was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, signing from Swiss side FC Lugano.
Although the midfielder spent two years on the books at Genoa, the second season was on loan at Hellas Verona, having made 24 appearances in Serie B. Upon his return, Behrami was sold to Lazio, starting his decent career around Europe which includes spells at West Ham, Napoli, Fiorentina and Hamburg among others. But Behrami is now back at Genoa, having joined as a free agent in the January transfer window.
Right-wing: Giovanni Simeone
Genoa apps: 37
Current club: Cagliari (on loan from Fiorentina)
Career value: £22.59m
Genoa was the first European move for centre-forward Giovanni Simeone, son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego, having spent his formative years in his native Argentina – where he did feature on the wing at times.
Joining Genoa in 2017, Simeone would stay just one season, in which he scored 14 goals, piquing the interest of Fiorentina. Simeone remains on the books at Fiorentina but is currently testing himself on loan at Cagliari, still just 24.
Left-wing: Stephan El Shaarawy
Genoa apps: 3
Current club: Shanghai Shenhua
Career value: £43.11m
The Italy international joined Genoa as a 14-year-old, but after coming through the club’s academy he made just three first-team appearances, including a Serie A debut as 16-year-old, before joining Milan in 2011.
During a five-year spell at Milan, he’s played for Monaco and Roma on loan before joining the club from Italy’s capital permanently in 2016. The 27-year-old spent a further three years with Roma, scoring 40 goals in 139 games but left for Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua last summer.
Striker: Krzysztof Piatek
Genoa apps: 21
Current club: Hertha Berlin
Career value: £57.79m
Krzysztof Piatek took Italy by storm in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign following his arrival from Polish side Cracovia, scoring 19 goals in 21 games across all competitions.
His performances earned interest from abroad and in Italy, and Piatek made a big-money move to AC Milan in January 2019. However, his time in Milan wasn’t as fruitful with the Polish striker managing just 16 goals in 41 games. Piatek moved once more in January 2020, this time to German and Hertha Berlin, where he was starting to find his feet.
Striker: Ciro Immobile
Genoa apps: 34
Current club: Lazio
Career value: £51.87m
A well-travelled forward who has gained vast experience playing in various countries, Immobile has performed fairly consistently throughout his professional career.
Spending just one season with Genoa in 2012, the Italian – who has 10 goals for his country in 39 caps – has gone on to represent the likes of Torino, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Lazio since departing Stadio Luigi Ferraris. And it’s at Lazio that he has found remarkable form, scoring 116 goals in 167 games.
Honourable mentions: Cristian Ansaldi, Nenad Tomovic, Andrea Ranocchia, Francesco Acerbi, Chico Flores, Facundo Roncaglia, Luca Antonelli, Valon Behrami, Miguel Veloso, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Juraj Kucka, Stefano Sturaro, Andrea Bertolacci, Diego Laxalt, Diego Perotti, Mattia Destro, Rodrigo Palacio, Lucas Pratto