Ranking the Top 10 Foreign Imports to Italy's Serie A
Serie A is home to some of the world's most talented footballers. It tends to attract a multitude of nationalities, providing them with a wonderful blend of styles in order to attract them to Italy in the first place.
Serie A is one of the toughest leagues in Europe and has significant depth that offers a genuine route for foreign players to the country's biggest clubs. Palermo is a good example of a club that regularly invests in talent from outside of Europe, attracting young talented players with a wonderful proposal.
Top young players can expect guaranteed game time, as opposed to weeks on the bench or in the reserves at Europe's giant clubs. Serie A is a great standard to challenge the very best, further developing these players to be able to cope with the majority of other leagues globally.
As well as professional reasons, foreign players are attracted to Italy for the environment and climate they will enjoy while plying their trade. It is a two-way deal, given Italian clubs often benefit from a brief spell of excellence before selling these players for huge profits.
Here I rank the top 10 foreign imports to be currently gracing Serie A. Do make sure to divulge your personal favourites and engage in a debate in the comment section below.
10. Miralem Pjanic, Roma
Miralem Pjanic, who arrived at Roma last summer from Lyon, adapted to Serie A immediately, with the Bosnian international becoming an integral part of Luis Enrique's Giallorossi revolution.
The 22-year-old has a wonderful range of passing which allows him to control the tempo of a game. The Lupi prized Pjanic away from Les Gones for €11.5 million after Thomas DiBenedetto bought the Roman club, a sum that now seems to be excellent value after such a promising debut season.
9. Kwadwo Asamoah, Udinese
Kwadwo Asamoah has been a revelation since joining Udinese in 2009.
The Ghanaian joined from the Swiss side Bellinzola for a paltry sum of €1 million. The Zebrette struck gold by acquiring the 23-year-old, who has already won 41 international caps, with their excellent scouting network knowing that Asamoah had the potential to become one of the most dominant central midfielders in Europe.
Originally from the Accra-based club Liberty Professionals, Asamoah has proven to be one of the Black Stars' best players representing the country abroad. The Friulani star is set for a huge future, and Udinese will relax in the knowledge that he will continue to aid their campaign to qualify for the UEFA Champions League or be rewarded with a large transfer fee.
8. Arturo Vidal, Juventus
Arturo Vidal is the perfect type of footballer to succeed in Serie A. The Chilean, who joined Juventus from Bayer Leverkusen for €12.5 million last summer, has a perfect combination of defensive and attacking skills to thrive in Italian football.
In his debut season for the Bianconeri, Vidal has offered tremendous energy and defensive qualities to an attack-minded midfield that also includes Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo. Furthermore, the 24-year-old has aided the Old Lady's misfiring attack by scoring four goals and assisting four others.
7. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Napoli
Ezequiel Lavezzi has become a cult hero since signing for Napoli in 2007. El Pocho is adored by the Neapolitans for his charismatic personality as much as his sensational performances on the pitch.
The Argentine joined the Partenopei for €6 million from San Lorenzo. Lavezzi was one of the original members of the squad assembled by owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, who bank-rolled the side's revolution from near bankruptcy to the Champions League this season.
Lavezzi has impressed so much in Serie A that he has received the call to feature for the national team, scoring twice in 16 appearances for the Albiceleste.
6. Edinson Cavani, Napoli
Edinson Cavani has flourished since arriving in Serie A four years ago. The Uruguayan joined Palermo from Danubio originally, with the Rosanero paying La Franja €4.5 million.
Upon arriving in Sicily, Cavani proceeded to produce a series of fine displays, attracting interest from Napoli who parted with €21 million for El Matador.
The 25-year-old has become one of Europe's leading strikers since joining the Partenopei, scoring 61 goals in 89 games, leading a host of Europe's biggest clubs queuing up to sign him.
5. Wesley Sneijder, Inter Milan
Sneijder was the protagonist in Jose Mourinho's treble-winning Nerazzurri, in 2010, before helping the Netherlands to reach the World Cup final. The Oranje eventually lost to Spain in the final, in South Africa, but Sneijder had finally fulfilled his potential, as the Dutchman finished as the joint top goalscorer of the tournament.
Sneijder is well known for his wonderful range of passing and spectacular free-kicks. His form has waned somewhat this season. A combination of injuries and Inter's dramatic fall from grace attributed to the Dutchman's struggles over recent months.
The €15 million signing has still proven to be a superb signing for the Nerazzurri, as well as one of Serie A's best imports of recent times.
4. Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina
Stevan Jovetic is Serie A's latest golden boy, likened to Alessandro Del Piero or Roberto Baggio. His future is going to be huge, if only he can remain fit.
The 22-year-old has been in sensational form for Fiorentina, after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Without the Montenegrin international, the Viola would almost certainly be facing relegation.
Having struck 12 goals in 16 appearances this season, Jovetic has proven to be a prolific goal scorer, as well as a creative genius.
3. Thiago Silva, AC Milan
Thiago Silva has made a wonderful impact since arriving in Italy three years ago from Fluminense. The 27-year-old has been a huge success and is now being described by many as the best central defender in the world.
The Brazilian cost the Rossoneri €10 million from the Fluzão, which now seems to be a bargain. The Seleção star was integral last season as Milan claimed their first scudetto in seven years.
Now the target for Milan is to maintain the services of Thiago. He is attracting interest from Barcelona, with Pep Guardiola rumoured to have specifically asked the Blaugrana to sign him.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a phenomenon since arriving in Italy from Ajax in 2004. The Swedish international has represented Juventus, Inter Milan and his current club, AC Milan, departing the peninsula for one season when he joined Barcelona in 2009.
Ibrahimovic has won the scudetto in every season he has played in Serie A, although both scudetti that he won while playing with the Bianconeri were later rescinded, due to the club's part in the calciopoli scandal of 2006. It has often been said that whomever Ibrahimovic plays for will win the league title.
After generating a combined total of over £150 million in transfer fees, Ibrahimovic is undoubtedly one of Serie A's greatest imports yet.
1. Javier Zanetti
Javier Zanetti is one of the best Serie A players of the modern era.
The Inter Milan captain has made 576 league appearances since his arrival in 1995, when the Nerazzurri paid Banfield €6.5 million for the then-22-year-old. Now 38, the Argentine has established himself as one of Inter's greatest ever players, serving the La Beneamata for 17 years.
Zanetti's crowning moment arrived in 2010 when the Nerazzurri claimed the Champions League, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final, in Madrid.