With the transfer market already hotting up after a matter of days since its doors opened, as rumours inevitably begin to grow for every Premier League team the scramble for Premier League players does eventually run dry, leaving managers to look further afield for any mid-season recruitment. Largely Europe as opposed to players from outside of the continent, you need look no further than the daily gossip round-up’s to see a wealth of players from throughout Europe’s biggest leagues that have been linked with winter transfers to the top tier of English football. Many managers look for players that fit their club’s requirements that may be available at more affordable prices compared to their Premier League equivalents. Others meanwhile may be unable to find exactly what they are after from the current crop of Premier League players available and consequently look abroad in potentially bringing a player in or maybe even unearthing a gem before the summer rush. With modern technology and the vast amount of statistics available when profiling possible new signings, securing a winter signing from the best of the rest European leagues has never been easier – whether that be through a temporary loan, pre-contract agreement or even on a permanent basis.
For this reason and following on from the first of a number of winter transfer window specials, spent looking at five Premier League players that could well be relocating to another top flight club this transfer window, @ASelbyInfo takes a look at the la crème de la crème of Italian football; most notably five players from the Serie A that could be swapping their current clubs for the top tier of English Football this winter.
Gabriel Barbosa (Internazionale)
Estimated Value: Loan
Linked with: Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United
Whether you know him as Gabriel Barbosa Almeida, Gabigol, or simply as the ‘next Neymar’ as widely suggested in the media, 20 year old Brazilian forward Gabriel Barbosa has seemingly found life difficult in Serie A since joining Internazionale in the 2016 summer transfer window. After being talked up as the next big star to come out of Brazil alongside Palmeiras forward Gabriel Jesus, almost every big club in Europe seemed to be linked with the former Santos man but in perhaps, somewhat surprising circumstances it was the Nerazzurri that won the race for Barbosa’s signature; signing the promising forward on a five year deal for a fee in the region of €25-30m. Yet with only handful of appearances to his name so far this season, a January move away may well be the best option for both the forward and the club itself after a difficult start to life at his new club. New manager Stefano Pioli appeared to hint at a potential departure this January with his comments on wanting to whittle down his Internazionale side as soon as possible, making it his first objective this January. Therefore with Pioli’s comments putting clubs across Europe on high alert, you would expect a host of Premier League clubs to make a move for the exciting young striker this January. From Premier League champions of old to reigning champions Leicester City, during his time at Santos Gabriel Barbosa was, and to this day remains a wanted man and a loan move to the Premier League looks highly likely this transfer window. Technically impressive, an astute dribbler and good passer of the ball, Barbosa is capable of playing out wide or as a lone centre forward and would seemingly tick the boxes for a number of Premier League clubs looking to strengthen their squads ahead of a challenging end to the 2016/17 league season.
Franck Kessié (Atalanta)
Position: Central Midfield
Estimated Value: €30M
Linked with: Chelsea, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur
For Serie A high flyers Atalanta, who at this time of writing sit in sixth a mere three points off third placed Napoli in Serie A, three could truly be the magic number where the winter transfer window is concerned. With an average age of 21 years old, an Atalanta trio including Italian centre-back Mattia Caldara and central midielder Roberto Gagliardini looks set to earn the Bergamo based club a significant amount of money this January with the last of the three musketeers perhaps commanding the greatest transfer fee of all. With Caldara and Gagliardini seemingly furthering their careers elsewhere in their native Italy, most likely swapping current club Atalanta for Juventus and Internazionale respectively, the last of Atalanta’s hot prospects could well be on his way to the English Premier League with a host of top flight clubs not just in England but throughout Europe patiently waiting for Atalanta’s star of the season to decide his next move. That man is of course the highly rated Ivorian central midfielder Franck Kessié, who after only turning 20 years old less than one month ago, has been touted as one of the most promising young players in the modern game. Making his professional debut for the Ivory Coast way back at the age of 17, following his return after a season long loan spent in the Serie B with AC Cesena Franck Kessie has arguably become the first name on the Atalanta team sheet after a number of standout performances. With six goals to his name already this season, Kessié has been widely referred to as a player that is built for the Premier League and dubbed the new Yaya Toure due to his qualities as a dynamic, central midfielder. With Atalanta reportedly holding out for a summer deal in the region of £34M, expect clubs from across Europe to pile on the pressure this windows and we will soon see whether money does indeed talk.
Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli)
Estimated Value: €25-30M
Linked with: Everton, Leicester City, Southampton, Stoke City
Two years ago it was during the January transfer window of 2015 when Sampdoria parted company with Italian forward Manolo Gabbiadini after the versatile attacker earned a deserved move to the European challenging Napoli for an estimated €13M. Two years later however, despite an impressive start to life in Naples the 25 year old has somewhat struggled for regular game time this season and has been extensively reported to be unsettled and open to a move away from the club. Described as a versatile, creative and hardworking forward that is able to play not only as a lone central striker but also competently out wide as a winger or even in behind a centre forward as an attacking midfielder or supporting striker, Gabbiadini certainly has unreached potential that could looks set to be unleashed elsewhere after the January transfer window with the Premier League looking more and more likely to be his next destination. Likewise the writing was further on the wall for Gabbiadini following the recent arrival at Napoli of Italian forward Leonardo Pavoletti from Genoa and an exit has never looked more likely than at present. Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg looked to be in pole position heading into the winter window to sign the Italian international who has featured a total of six times for his country but with the German side now reportedly eyeing up a a move for French forward Paul-Georges Ntep in a cut price deal from Ligue 1 side Rennes, this would therefore seemingly pave the way for a number of Premier League clubs to make an approach to sign the Italian this January.
Position: Central Midfield
Estimated Value: €10M
Linked with: Watford
Whilst the arrival of Venezuela captain Tomas Rincon at Juventus, may widely be seen as the first exciting, big money move of the market, it may not be looked upon as positively if you are one of the current crop of Juventus central midfielders struggling for game-time, none more so than 31 year old Brazilian midfielder Hernanes. Reportedly deemed surplus to requirements at Juventus, Hernanes has struggled for game time since joining the Old Lady back in 2015 with only 23 appearances to his name during his time at the Turin club. Heading into the winter window it did look like that Hernanes may have been on his way to La Liga, swapping the black and white of Juventus or the orange, black and white of Valencia but after Cesare Prandelli’s departure, reports in Italy have since suggested that the English Premier League could be his next stop in a career that has seen the powerhouse midfielder make over 300 first-team appearances in both Brazil and Italy. For what Hernanes may lack in pace, his reading of the game is said to be one of his most redeeming qualities as Hernanes is able to influence the game from midfield as well as cover all midfield positions in differing defensive and attacking roles. Named the best Under-23 player in the world by The Times back in 2009 and labelled by ESPN as the ‘best emerging Brazilian player in Europe’ during his first season in Serie A, Hernanes may well be talked about as the best signing of the winter window should there any be clubs willing to take a chance on the experienced holding midfielder.
Andrea Ranocchia (Internazionale)
Position: Central Defender
Estimated Value: €10-12M
Linked with: Swansea City
It has barely been a week since Paul Clement was announced as the new manager of the relegation battling Swansea City but as is the nature of modern football, fans of The Swans may continue to focus on going out with the old and in with the new but this time not the club manager, instead the Swansea City players. With the clubs problems largely arising at the back, defensive recruitment was outlined as a priority for the winter transfer window even during Bob Bradley’s short lived spell as Swansea manager and if recent rumours are anything to go by, the answer to their defensive frailties may actually be sat waiting on the Internazionale bench for a move to South Wales. After being linked with a move to Liverpool in the initial stages of the 2015/16 season, it was in fact Norwich City to launched what at the time seemed a sensational bid to bring the highly rated Italian centre-back Andrea Ranocchia to the Premier League but after a reported €10M offer was rejected in the winter transfer window, Ranocchia instead joined Sampdoria on loan until the end of the season. Fast forward almost a full 12 months later and with the now 28 year old struggling for game time previously under Frank de Boer and more recently under Stefano Pioli, it looks increasingly likely that the Italian international, with a total of 21 caps, may finally be on his way out of Serie A. Upon taking the Swansea job, when asked about potential recruitment this January, Clement was quick to state that attacking football comes from a base of good defending and if the Italian centre back is willing to join, signing Ranocchia could prove to be a masterstroke in the clubs fight for Premier League survival.
Originally featured on The Five Guide