Serie A's 5 Most in-Demand Transfer Targets and Where They Could End Up
As Serie A draws to a close, silly season on the Italian peninsula begins. From now until the commencement of hostilities again in August, the media will be full transfer talk and speculation.
Certainly, the league is full of young, exciting talent who have attracted admirers not only at home but also from farther afield. Likewise, all of Italy's major teams could benefit from a wisely-considered addition or two.
So who's itching for a move or got Europe's top clubs fighting over his signature?
Inter's Samir Handanovic
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Fans of the Nerazzurri haven't had too much to smile about this season. Andrea Stramaccioni's men have been impressive and depressingly poor in equal measure and there are some big decisions to be made at the club, not only about the manager but also about several key players.
One sliver of hope that's broken through the gloom, however, has been the Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
The former Udinese man has been a rock between the posts for Inter, regularly out-performing his teammates and allowing them to snatch a draw or even a win from the jaws of defeat with his heroics.
Understandably, this hasn't gone unnoticed. Barcelona are among the clubs linked to the 28-year-old from Ljubljana, but Inter's president Massimo Moratti has been at pains to stress he has no desire to sell one of the few pillars left in this squad, upon which a new team might be built.
Expect plenty of interest but for him to ultimately stay put, at least for another season.
Roma's Erik Lamela
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Erik Lamela's star is on the rise. He's averaged a goal every two games for Roma this season from the wing, often netting thanks to impressive displays of pace, power and individual skill.
Brought to the Italian capital from River Plate in Argentina last season, Lamela is the latest in a long line of South American imports captured by Walter Sabatini, the Giallorossi's director of football. The talent spotter knows a winner when he sees one and it looks like he hit the jackpot with young Lamela.
There's been plenty of talk about a big-money move, with everyone from Barcelona to Manchester United and Manchester City being linked to the wide man.
Rumours have also been circulating about an improved deal at the capital club for the attacker who currently earns just over €1 million a year. It's been denied by his agent but it remains the most likely development.
Having paid €14 million for him just last year (official statement and details of the deal can be read here in Italian), Roma should be in no mood to sell. The American owners have spoken consistently about building for the future and investing heavily in Rome, so it would make little sense to sell off one of their key assets.
There'll be plenty of hype but he should kick off the new season in a Roma shirt—albeit on more money.
AC Milan's Urby Emanuelson
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With Stephan El Shaarawy in town, there's not much space for Urby Emanuelson in Max Allegri's plans at Milan.
The Dutch winger is currently on loan at Fulham, but the London club have made it clear that they don't intend to make the move permanent, meaning the Rossoneri will be looking for a buyer elsewhere.
His departure is hardly one of the season's top transfer stories, but it could play a vital part in more exciting moves.
Milan have been linked to two of Dutch football's most promising stars: PSV's Kevin Strootman and Feyenord's Bruno Martins Indi. The players are on the radars of most of Europe's football elite, but Milan are hoping that the part exchange of the unwanted but still very useful Emanuelson might sweeten the deal in their favour.
Expect Emanuelson to head elsewhere in search of first-team opportunity and for his space in the setup to be filled with yet another rising star of world football. Things are looking very exciting in the red half of Milan.
Juventus' Arturo Vidal
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Rumours have been circling about the possibility of Arturo Vidal leaving Juventus since January, and he's certain to be one of the most talked-about players this summer.
The Italian press claim that Juve have just refused a €45 million bid from Bayern Munich, who see the Chilean as one of the final cogs needed to complete the already mighty Bavarian goal machine.
Vidal is worth more to the Bianconeri, not only on the pitch but also as a sign that they still have the ability to hold on to Europe's best players and compete at the very top. The club is financially secure and Antonio Conte is building for the future so a sale is unlikely.
That said, they've proved in the past with guys like Zinedine Zidane that every player has a price. Like the Frenchman, Vidal's is likely to be very high.
Napoli's Edinson Cavani
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I've already written about what makes Edinson Cavani such an inviting prospect for Europe's major teams.
He's grounded, family-oriented, professional and hard working. That alone makes him stand out in the modern game. On top of all that though, he's also incredibly talented.
The goal tallies being notched up by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in La Liga make Cavani's look ordinary, but the Uruguayan has scored more than a goal every 1.4 games in a league that's more competitive throughout and filled with more defensive-minded players.
The thought of what he could do up front for the likes of Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain is frightening, but if he is to leave the Partenopei it won't be cheaply. There have been figures as high as €100 million mentioned and Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has been bullish about the fact he won't go for any less.
Cavani isn't just Serie A's top transfer story. His move is likely to consume the whole continent and even affect where some of Europe's other top players end up in August. This is the one to watch.