Serie A: 3 Players from Italy's Top Flight Who Could Be Targets in January
With the summer transfer window closed and the Serie A season two weeks old, it's never too early to wonder what might happen in Europe's second silly season in January.
Many things factor into the winter window. Players could get pushed out of the starting XI by another player. Injuries could force teams to patch holes. Feuds could develop behind the scenes between players and management. Or one man could just break out so well that big clubs can't help but pursue.
So who could be on the move when the calendar turns? Here are three Italian players who may be pursued in the next window.
Club: Hellas Verona
Thirty-six-year-old Luca Toni tried to give his career one last spark when he signed a one-year deal with newly-promoted Hellas Verona in the summer. So far the results have been promising.
Toni has scored three times in three competitive games for his new club. His 38th-minute strike sent Verona past Palermo in the third round of the Coppa Italia last month. He then headed in on either side of halftime to give his squad a shock 2-1 victory over Milan in their first Serie A game in 11 years.
So far in two Serie A matches he's found the target with four of his six shots and has won an impressive 7.5 aerial duels per match.
If this form holds, Toni could be an interesting piece for one of Italy's bigger clubs in the fight for European qualification. Verona may be loath to sell him if they are in a relegation fight themselves, but if a team deems him a need and makes a big enough offer their hands will probably be tied.
With the World Cup looming, Toni is looking to show Cesare Prandelli that even in the twilight of his career he—like Antonio Di Natale at Euro 2012—can be an asset to the Azzurri in the tournament. An impressive year with Verona would be a huge help to that cause, but a move to a bigger club with similar results could be even better for him.
Colombian international Luis Muriel is one of the hottest talents in the Serie A, and he's going to get some long looks from big clubs that want to beef up their strike forces.
Muriel has already scored twice in the league this season, coming off the bench on opening weekend to pull Udinese closer in a 2-1 loss to Lazio, then playing the full 90 against Parma, scoring a penalty to put the match to bed 3-1. He also scored twice in the Europa League qualifying round. Francesco Guidolin has so much faith in the youngster that he has bequeathed him the No. 9 shirt for the campaign.
Dubbed the "Colombian Ronaldo" by Goal.com (seen here via Yahoo! Sports), Muriel's speed and ability to dribble and finish have all brought comparisons to the Brazilian legend. Muriel himself patterned his game after Ronaldo and is an Inter Milan supporter because of him. Inter may look towards him at some point, but interest has been coming from another part of Europe recently.
Muriel was recently the poster child for how Twitter can send transfer rumors ablaze when a journalist's misinterpreted tweet led to reports all over the internet that Liverpool was targeting the Colombian as a replacement for Luis Suarez.
Suarez is staying with Liverpool for now, but the Uruguayan's volatility means that things could always go south by the January window. Udinese is developing a reputation as a talent farm in Serie A, and while they avoided another sale this year, a significant offer would leave them little choice, especially if their early Europa League exit is combined with a poor start.
Claudio Marchisio is the most interesting of cases.
A local boy and academy product, Marchisio is the Juve's second vice-captain and one of the best midfielders in the world. But the midfield is now crowded at the Juventus Stadium, and il principino is sidelined with an injury suffered in the Supercoppa Italiana against Lazio.
That injury has allowed 20-year-old Frenchman Paul Pogba—a breakout performer a year ago—to slot into the starting lineup. Pogba scored minutes after coming on for the injured Marchisio in the Supercoppa, and in the first two games of the league season he notched a pair of exquisite assists.
Marchisio seemed unsettled over the summer, and The Independent reported Manchester United was interested in his signature as they tried to reinforce the center of their midfield, but for now Marchisio is content to stay at his boyhood club. Whether that will be the same in the winter if Pogba forces him to the subs bench is yet to be seen.
With Andrea Pirlo's contract expiring this year, it may be that Pogba will simply slot into that spot next year with no long-term effect on Marchisio's place in the team. But this is all in the future, and if the Frenchman wins a permanent spot in Antonio Conte's starting XI, Marchisio may get itchy feet.
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