Analysis

7 rising Serie A stars who Premier League clubs could seriously target in January

Lucas Torreira
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Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria)

If you’ve had the good fortune to see a Sampdoria game recently, the chances are you saw plenty of Torreira. The Uruguayan is a pitbull of a midfielder, tearing around the pitch at high intensity with a consistency and effectiveness that stands out in a team filled with technicians.

Head coach Marco Giampaolo has brought with him from Empoli a refined possession game built around triangles and crisp combinations throughout the team, but his 21-year-old defensive midfield terrier operates on a slightly different wavelength.

Amid the serene passing, Torreira is a fiercely physical influence. Strong in the tackle and quick to press, his 5ft 6in frame belies a battling ball-winner. Don’t be fooled, though – he also knows what to do once he’s won the ball back, distributing with admirable efficacy.

Would suit: Arsenal, Liverpool

Simone Verdi (Bologna)

Simone Verdi

In a league often lauded for the rigorousness of its defences and intricate tactics, Verdi stands out as an unashamedly individualistic attacker. He plays with a steadfast focus on the opposition goal and loves cutting in from his nominal right-wing position to run at defences.

A product of Milan’s renowned youth academy, the 25-year-old had to leave in order to break out at the top level. He was in and out during a loan spell with Empoli, but has found home in Bologna where, ironically, he is coached by former Rossoneri winger Roberto Donadoni.

Fast, aggressive on the ball and with an eye for the spectacular, Verdi relishes having freedom to roam. Perhaps the finest example of his imaginative quality came against Crotone, where he curled in two free-kicks – one with each foot.

Would suit: Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Tottenham

Francesco Vicari (SPAL)

Francesco Vicari

Italian football tends to produce composed centre-backs and Vicari fits right into this wonderful tradition. The 23-year-old has been a key player for newly promoted SPAL, playing with solidity and style at the heart of their back three and transitioning seamlessly from Serie B to A.

West Ham were persistently linked with the 6ft 3in defender over the summer, though SPAL were completely opposed to the idea of selling. On the basis of his showings so far this season, it’s easy to see why the Biancazzurri played hardball.

While he has the build of a conventional centre-back, Vicari is anything but. He’s just as happy receiving the ball as he is marking an opponent, and when it comes to pass accuracy he’s one of the best in his position. His assuredness makes him a calming authority in and out of possession, and there are several Premier League sides who could benefit from his presence in their backline.

Would suit: Stoke, Swansea, West Brom

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