Premier League clubs have already started their summer business and sides may look to Italy for potential reinforcements.
Serie A drew admiring gazes from around the continent as a result of one of the most thrilling domestic seasons in Europe and several of the division’s brightest stars are being linked with big-money moves to England.
Our friends at Football Whispers have identified and profiled five of Serie A’s finest who could soon be plying their trade in the Premier League next season…
Lazio’s Serbian midfielder is set to be one of world football’s hottest properties this summer after an impressive season. Linked with a big-money move to Manchester United, reports in Italy suggest champions Juventus are also hot on Milinkovic-Savic’s tail.
Standing almost 6ft 4ins, the 23-year-old is a powerful presence in central midfield, strong in the tackle and powerful in the air. But the former Genk star is at his best with the ball at his feet. He’s blessed with a wonderful first touch, an eye for a pass and textbook technique.
Likened to Paul Pogba, the developments in the Lazio man’s arsenal could make him an ideal foil for the Frenchman. Having grown vastly as a goal threat – Milinkovic-Savic’s return of 12 league strikes doubles Pogba’s – he’s also bettering the United playmaker in tackles (1.73 to 1.42), interceptions (1.1 to 0.92) and touches in the opposition’s box (3.97 to 3.17) per 90.
Yet Pogba has 10 league assists to Milinkovic-Savic’s three and tops the Serbian international in passes (72 to 55.29) and successful take-ons (3.13 to 1.73) per 90. Together in a three-man midfield they both could thrive.
Another player linked with a switch to Old Trafford is Juventus left-back Sandro.
Adventurous and creative in attack, the ex-Porto defender ranks third among Serie A full-backs for successful take-ons (2.29) and accurate through-balls (0.08) per 90 in 2017/18. His return of four goals is the second-best in his position in the Italian top flight.
Sandro, 27, also claimed four assists, showcasing speed, inventiveness and outstanding crossing ability when roaming into the final third. Despite his attacking instincts and ability to play as an orthodox left winger, the Brazil international is also capable defensively. Excelling in one-v-one situations, Sandro’s return of 57 tackles was better then 87 per cent of Serie A full-backs this season.
Linked with a move to Chelsea in the past and now reported to be on United’s radar, interest in Sandro, valued at around £50m, appears to be high.
Napoli ran Juventus close in the Serie A title race this season, with their 91-point haul ordinarily enough to claim the Scudetto.
They played some of the most eye-catching football in Europe and the man at the heart of Maurizio Sarri’s pass masters is midfield metronome Jorginho.
The Brazil-born Italy international sits at the base of Napoli’s three-man midfield, conducting play, dictating the tempo and shielding the back four. No player in Europe’s five major leagues made more passes than Jorginho (3197) in 2017/18, while the 26-year-old led Serie A midfielders in forward passes (1136) and through-balls (nine) and ranked in the top-five for open-play key passes (42).
As Napoli attracted admirers, so too has Jorginho, a reported top summer target for both Manchester City and Liverpool.
As much as Napoli’s free-flowing, attacking football impressed this season, the Serie A runners-up also proved a stubborn outfit defensively, shipping only 29 goals in 38 games. The major reason was centre-back Koulibaly.
The 6ft 4ins France-born Senegal international is a dominant presence at the heart of Napoli’s back four, a defensive leader and complete central defender.
The 26-year-old’s 66 aerial duels won this season was better than 89 per cent of Serie A central defenders and his 55 tackles topped 90 per cent of his peers in the Italian top flight. Koulibaly is also outstanding in possession, leading Serie A centre-backs in accurate passes (79.84) and forward passes (38.63) per 90. He was also second for goals scored (five).
Reports claim Napoli will demand £88m if they’re to part ways with the defender – Manchester United and Chelsea have been named as potential suitors.
A regular between the posts for AC Milan since making his debut as a 16-year-old, Donnarumma is regarded as one of the most-gifted young players in football.
Still only 19, the goalkeeper has five senior caps for Italy – with whom he is tipped to succeed Gianluigi Buffon as the undisputed No 1 – and has racked up 125 career appearances for Milan. An ever-present for the Rossoneri in Serie A this season, Donnarumma demonstrated his sound passing ability and ranked second among keepers in the Italian top flight for accurate passes (837) this term.
What makes Donnarumma stand out as one of Europe’s finest goalkeepers, though, is his phenomenal shot-stopping ability. Although he stands a towering 6ft 5ins, the teenager is agile and capable of pulling off breathtaking reflex saves. Despite Milan’s inconsistency, Donnarumma can be content with his contribution, keeping 12 clean sheets and averaging 2.39 saves per 90.
With Milan having missed out on Champions League qualification, reports claim Liverpool are readying a £40m player-plus-cash swoop for the goalkeeping wonderkid.