Italian football has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the very livelihood of many of calcio’s sides. In most cases, the lack of revenue from ticket sales has meant subdued transfer windows. Nowadays, the very best players command a premium – prices most Italian clubs simply can’t afford.
As a result, sporting directors are forced to look within Italy to bolster their sides with a number of budding talents catching the eye.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at three players Italy’s giants should be taking a look at.
Gaetano Castrovilli (Fiorentina): The 24-year-old broke onto the scene last year as a relatively unproven talent and has since established himself as a regular for la Viola. Fiorentina’s instability has not helped Castrovilli, but the midfielder has still managed to stand out with five goals and two assists in 21 appearances.
Despite his side’s struggles, Castrovilli continues to dominate play and take his game to the next level. While he has impressed this season, it may be time for the Italian international to reconsider his future and leave his boyhood club. Federico Chiesa did so this summer and is benefitting as a result of it, thriving at Juventus.
Fiorentina’s pursuit of Maurizio Sarri can tilt the balances in their favour, but as of right now, Castrovilli should weigh all his options. If la Viola’s top brass are not serious about making wholesale changes, he might just be available come the summertime.
Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese): Where would Udinese be without Rodrigo De Paul? It feels as if the Argentine maestro has singlehandedly saved the Zebrette from the drop zone in recent seasons. An all-action midfielder by nature, any club in Italy would be lucky to have De Paul in the middle of the park. The Udinese midfielder is versatile enough to play as the side’s regista, shielding the back four, or as the side’s number 10.
Juventus and Inter have both been heavily linked with a move over the years, with the former emerging as favourites. Inter’s midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella is among the very best in Italy, making it difficult for De Paul to breakthrough. At Juventus, by contrast, the 26-year-old would slot in directly into the starting 11 and offer some much-needed creativity and industry in the middle of the park.
Italian clubs will have to act fast, however, as recent reports have suggested both Liverpool and Leeds United are keeping tabs on him. Both sides are expected to ramp up their pursuit in the coming weeks.
Mattia Zaccagni (Hellas Verona): Hellas Verona continues to surprise in Italy and punch above their weight. When looking at their starting 11, it is difficult to pinpoint one big name that consistently makes the difference. Upon closer inspection, however, that player just happens to be Mattia Zaccagni.
The 25-year-old has been a revelation under Ivan Juric, making a name for himself cutting in from the left-hand side of Hellas Verona’s 3-4-3. Operating in a free-roam role, Zaccagni combines to devastating effect with Verona’s frontline, drifting between the lines dangerously. The Verona man has shown no signs of slowing down this season, registering five goals and five assists in 20 appearances.
Napoli has been linked with a move for Zaccagni in January, but never pulled the trigger. Milan has reportedly kept tabs on the 25-year-old as well, given his ability to slot in anywhere across the frontline. Zaccagni has proven he can play on the left or through the middle, making him a great fit for either side. Given Hellas Verona’s low-profile, Zaccagni’s price should be modest.
Anywhere between 10-15 million euros should be enough to secure him, making him an intriguing fit for any side looking for some help in the final third.
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