6 Serie A freebies eagerly awaiting a phone call
Juventus’ Paul Pogba and Lazio’s Felipe Anderson have been linked with big-money moves to the Premier League this summer, but there are plenty of other talented players in Italy’s top-flight available for much cheaper fees. Some, in fact, can be picked up for nothing this summer. The following players are all out of contract in a few weeks’ time and would be good free transfers for a number of English outfits.
Nigel de Jong, Milan
The Dutch anchorman was a rare bright spot in a dismal season for the Rossoneri, who slumped to a 10th-place finish under the guidance of the club’s former striker Pippo Inzaghi. De Jong was a model of consistency at the base of midfield, breaking up opposition attacks before beginning offensive moves with his underrated passing ability. De Jong was a key part of Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City outfit that won the Premier League in 2013, so should have no problems adapting to the pace and tempo of the English top tier. Not yet 31, the Amsterdam-born man still has a lot to offer.
Linked with: Manchester United, Galatasaray.
Sergio Romero, Sampdoria
It has been something of a strange 12 months for the Argentine: first-choice goalkeeper for his country as they went all the way to the World Cup final in Brazil last summer, but only back-up to Emiliano Viviano for club side Sampdoria. In fact, it is now two seasons since Romero was No.1 for his domestic employers; the stopper having made only two starts on loan at Monaco in 2013/14. Nevertheless, with 58 international caps to his name, the 28-year-old is clearly a talented keeper. A fine shot-stopper, 6ft 3in Romero is also a powerful and assertive presence in the penalty area. With Sampdoria seemingly willing to let him go, the Argentine would be an astute signing for many English teams, either as first or second choice.
Linked with: Liverpool, Everton, Inter, Roma, Valencia, Malaga.
Cristian Ledesma, Lazio
Ledesma’s nine-year association with the Biancocelesti looks to be coming to an end, with the long-serving midfielder seeking pastures new for the first time since 2006. Stefano Pioli guided Lazio to Champions League qualification for the first time in eight years last term, but Ledesma’s contribution was minimal. The Argentine-born Italy international started only seven games in Serie A as compatriot Lucas Biglia made Ledesma’s favoured deep-lying midfield position his own. A move to MLS looks most likely at this stage, but the 32-year-old could be persuaded to spend another season or two in Europe before crossing the Atlantic.
Linked with: Arsenal, Southampton, New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City, Montreal Impact.
Giampaolo Pazzini, Milan
It has been a difficult couple of years for Pazzini, limited to just 11 starts as Mario Balotelli, Mattia Destro and even winger Jeremy Menez have been preferred in the centre-forward role. He now looks set to depart San Siro after five seasons – two for Inter, three for Milan – with England a possible destination. Pazzini is a traditional number nine, a striker who comes alive in the penalty box and is difficult to pin down with his elusive off-the-ball movement. Despite standing at only 5ft 9in, he is also excellent in the air and generally a cool finisher in one-on-one situations. He would certainly be worth a punt for mid-table Premier League outfits in need of a frontman. Pazzini does not have the pace or mobility to lead the line on his own, but is the type of player who would thrive with the right type of strike partner. As long as his wage demands are not excessive, Pazzini on a free transfer would be a no-brainer for many.
Linked with: Crystal Palace, Ajax, Bologna, Verona.
The 2014/15 campaign was not one of Jonathan's greatest, managing just 174 minutes of action in Serie A. Seemingly not rated by either Walter Mazzarri or Roberto Mancini, the Brazilian had to settle for a place on the bench at best before a knee injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. In truth, Inter was probably always a step too high for the 29-year-old. If Jonathan's confidence has not taken too much of a hit, he would represent a positive addition for sides in search of an attacking full-back.
Linked with: Benfica, Porto, Santos, Sao Paulo, Atletico Mineiro, Cruzeiro.
Alberto Aquilani, Fiorentina
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Those who remember Aquilani’s underwhelming, injury-hit, 28-games-in-three-years spell at Liverpool may be puzzled by the Italian’s place on this list, but the midfielder is a far better player than Premier League audiences will remember. The 30-year-old played a key part in Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina becoming one of the best footballing sides on the peninsula: alongside Borja Valero and David Pizarro in a midfield three, Aquilani has helped aid La Viola’s transition towards a more technical, possession-based game. Having averaged 35 appearances per season in his last five campaigns for Fiorentina, Milan and Juventus, fears about Aquilani’s long-term fitness have been assuaged. Doubts remain, however, about whether he would be able to cope with the frenzied pace of the Premier League.
Linked with: Roma, FC Toronto.