One of 3 Italians included in the World Cup 23-man squad from Serie A side Torino, Alessio Cerci is now attracting interest from Premier League sides who had previously been told he was not for sale.
Torino finished 7th in the Italian top-flight, edging out giants AC Milan to the final Europa League spot by the narrowest of margins. The spot rightfully would have gone to Parma but they were ruled ineligible for European competition for being behind on their taxes. The Turin-based team were level on points with Milan, which in Italy goes to the head-to-head points, then head-to-head goal difference, but they were both STILL tied. Torino qualified with their superior league goal difference and, with 13 goals and 12 assists, Cerci was a part of almost half of their goals.
Premier League scouts had already sat up and took notice of the attacking winger from his time at Roma and Fiorentina, but this last year or so for him has really set tongues wagging. He made his debut for the national side last March, has played 12 times in total since then, and has now secured his place at the World Cup finals in Brazil where his nation face England, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the groups.
Cerci has drawn comparisons with Thierry Henry and Arjen Robben during his career, due to his attacking nature, skill on both wings and impressive goal-scoring instincts.
With the price of so many big names in Europe being massively inflated, the Premier League giants are looking at the 26-year-old as a cheaper alternative, as well as one that can still be moulded into their vision. The offer of UEFA Champions League football over Europa League is a very sellable commodity for the likes of Brendan Rodgers and Arsen Wenger.
Louis Van Gaal will not have that luxury as Manchester United’s new boss, but the prestige built by the club over the last quarter of a century will not be forgotten quickly by players linked with the club, after Moyes’s unsuccessful season in charge and failure to qualify for European football.
Torino had initially been insistent that the winger was not for sale and was part of their plans to build on last season but they have now put a price on his head of £16.5million, if Cerci says he wants to leave.
Will Cerci feature in the World Cup and make an impact? What affect will that have on his price-tag on the Premier League teams with a vested interest in his signature?