Genoa: Italy’s oldest club and their hopes for a bright future

Il Grifone were promoted in second place, lowering their wage bill in the process and maintaining the eighth-best average attendance in Italy despite being in the second tier.

“It confirmed we did things well on the sporting side and we did things well in the city and social side,” adds Blazquez, who says the club would often take more fans to away games than the home side.

Promotion and Genoa’s subsequent performance in Serie A this season has brought a lot of interest in what is proving to be a well-recruited squad.

Defender Radu Dragusin, who followed Ottolini from Juventus, joined Tottenham in January in a £25m deal, Iceland forward Gudmundsson is on the radar of a number of top clubs and Danish midfielder Frendrup was a reported Liverpool target, while Argentina-born striker Mateo Retegui, who arrived from Tigre last summer, is in Italy’s preliminary Euro 2024 squad.

“The sporting project is to try to make a good mix of younger talents and more ready players that can give us the spine to the team,” explains Ottolini. “We play in front of 32,000 people every week and this can create value in the younger players.”

Ottolini needs targets who will buy into Genoa’s footballing project but selling it as a place to live is the easy part, with the port city nestled between the Ligurian Sea and the Apennine mountain range. Locals call it “La Superba”.

“When you enter the club you can really smell football, it’s in the walls,” Ottolini says of Genoa’s history and tradition.

“Then we speak about how nice it is to live in Genoa, by the sea, the town is beautiful. The climate is really great.

“I don’t say the food because they don’t eat too much, but also the food is nice!”

Talented midfielder Frendrup, who was drawn in by the atmosphere at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, agrees: “The club is so historical and I wanted to be a part of this journey, those things made me fall in love and want to come here.

“It is a crazy football city. You learn to live with it that football means so much to the people here. The city is also just beautiful, so it is easy to get used to!

“We have good staff and some older players who take care of the younger ones, it is a really good step for a young player like me.”

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