9 Serie A stars who Premier League clubs should have eyes on in January
1. Keita Balde Diao (Lazio)
Let go by Barcelona as a teenager for putting an ice cube in a team-mate’s bed, Keita has shown signs of increased maturity in 2016/17
Lazio’s resurgence this season has been fuelled by youth. With a fresh-faced head coach in Simone Inzaghi and a squad packed with promising young talent, the club’s future looks rosy once again. And 21-year-old attacker Keita is arguably their brightest prospect.
The Senegal international is extremely versatile and can operate anywhere across the frontline, though his preference is still to cut in from the left where his skill and raw speed make him almost impossible to stop in one-on-one situations.
Let go by Barcelona as a teenager for putting an ice cube in a team-mate’s bed, Keita has shown signs of increased maturity in 2016/17 with more consistent and substantive performances. Indeed, he's already equalled his career-best league goals tally of five.
2. Antonio Rudiger (Roma)
Rudiger is comfortable playing in a back three or four and has even taken on the right-back berth when necessary
Reportedly chased by Chelsea last summer, Rudiger’s year was turned upside down after tearing cruciate knee ligaments in June. Not only did this temporarily rule out any chance of a Premier League move, but it also forced the German to miss out on representing his country at Euro 2016. However, following a period of recuperation he's now re-establishing himself at the heart of Roma’s defence.
A powerful and wholehearted centre-back who combines pace and strength with improving technique, Rudiger is comfortable playing in a back three or four and has even taken on the right-back berth when necessary. His flexibility and athleticism would make him ideally suited to an outside central defensive role within Antonio Conte’s 3-4-2-1 system at Stamford Bridge.
Would suit: Chelsea, Manchester United
3. Mattia Perin (Genoa)
Beneath his long-haired rocker look, charisma and occasional eccentricity lies a genuinely reliable last line of defence
Due to the emergence of Milan’s 17-year-old shot-stopper extraordinaire Gianluigi Donnarumma, Perin is no longer considered the heir to Gianluigi Buffon. Nonetheless, the Genoa goalkeeper remains one of the best in Serie A.
Beneath his long-haired rocker look, charisma and occasional eccentricity lies a genuinely reliable last line of defence. He may not fit in among the modern sweeper-keepers when it comes to his ability with the ball at his feet, but Perin is strong, committed, decisive and has exceptional reactions.