Inter Milan's 21-year-old Algerian international centre forward Ishak Belfodil is a transfer target for Hull City (per The Hull Daily Mail) and West Ham United (per The Daily Mail) but should Premier League clubs target someone who has been a failure at the Nerazzurri?
Belfodil's time at Inter so far has been an unmitigated disaster.
Whether Antonio Cassano was included in the packaged deal for him or if Inter paid £8.5 million for co-ownership of Belfodil remains unclear (you can say that about most Serie A deals), as per Football Italia:
Originally Cassano was meant to arrive with Matias Silvestre on loan plus €10 million [£8.5M] for Belfodil, but plans changed.
"The Cassano and Belfodil moves were completed separately. We are happy to have sold Inter 50 percent of a great player like Belfodil," [Parma president Tommaso] Ghirardi [said].
Belfodil is angling for an exit heading into a FIFA World Cup year because he is an afterthought in the mind of Inter manager Walter Mazzarri.
Having more red cards (one) than Serie A goals (zero) hasn't helped Belfodil's case.
Inter have an undisputed No. 9 in Rodrigo Palacio, who is one of the preeminent strikers in Serie A right now, hence why every single one of Belfodil's league games under Mazzarri have been sub-affected.
When Belfodil did lead the line, in the 1-1 draw against Cagliari (a team he once scored a brace against as a Parma player), he did not score or create a goal.
To compound his misery, one of his competitors, Argentine young gun Mauro Icardi, came off the bench and scored (he also scored against Juventus).
If Inter were to pick between the two, they would choose Icardi because he is a world-class prospect while Belfodil's ascent to top-flight professional football has been a struggle and it could foreshadow him dropping into lower league football.
He was rejected by renowned French academy Clairefontaine, didn't make an impression at Paris Saint-Germain, same story at Lyon and played eight Serie A games on loan at Bologna.
Even last season at Parma, he only started 66.7 percent of games and spent an extended period of time out of position on the wings.
Bottom line: He is an unpolished player and another transfer mishap from Inter sporting director Marco Branca.
La Gazzetta dello Sport have already included Belfodil in their transfer flops of the season.
GdS Flop XI Flop XI: Padelli; Wallace, Felipe, Novaretti, Ziegler; Schelotto, Lodi, Biglia; Belfodil, Matri, Ljajic pic.twitter.com/sUbDAHvCEt— Adam Digby (@Adz77) November 18, 2013
Belfodil is considering leaving Inter in the January transfer window.
"I hope to play more often and this is not happening for now at Inter," Belfodil said, per APS (h/t Sky Sports). "The market window is coming, I have to talk to my leaders and I would like to be competitive in view of the World Cup."
"Sources close to Belfodil have told Sky Sports that a number of Premier League clubs are interested in taking him in the New Year," Simone Bargellini at Sky Sports wrote.
It confirms rumours of Belfodil being linked to Premier League clubs and here is why it makes sense.
Premier League Fits Belfodil
Belfodil is a 6'4", 190-pound centre forward with the upside to transition into a complete No. 9.
He likes to take on players when he is in possession which is why he had a run out wide last season under Parma manager Roberto Donadoni.
|League Only||Games (Starts)||Dribbles|
|Inter 13-14||8 (1)||9|
|Parma 12-13||33 (22)||52|
|Bologna 11-12||8 (1)||12|
Not only is Belfodil confident with the ball being played to him on the ground, he is an aerial threat which bodes well for potential suitors in Hull and West Ham.
At Hull, there is Ahmed Elmohamady carrying the ball deep into the opposition territory and sending in crosses (he has attempted 113 crosses in 18 Premier League games).
Sam Allardyce's West Ham are third in the Premier League when it comes to aerial duels per game, so it presents Belfodil ample opportunities to score headers.
"I no longer play only looking at the goal and I am willing to run without the ball if this creates space for a teammate," Belfodil said, per La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t WhoScored). "My model centre-forward is Ronaldo, the Brazilian one. Today I watch [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic a lot."
The common characteristic between Belfodil, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic is strength on the ball.
One example was how he backed into Cagliari defender Lorenzo Ariaudo, who was shoving Belfodil in the back while wrenching at his arm.
Belfodil was too strong and pivoted past Ariaudo and Radja Nainggolan, who rushed in to help, to score for Parma.
Another example was when Belfodil shrugged off Roma centre-back Leandro Castan's shirt-pull and shoulder charge.
Belfodil kept his forward momentum and calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
He has so much potential but he is raw and at times undisciplined (two red cards for the striker in a period of a year).
"Belfodil alternates great moves with errors, so he is still young and has to learn," Mazzarri said, as per Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia). "With the red card, it’s again a lack of maturity. A mature player would realise the situation, keep his cool and get out of there."
Undisciplined is a word you can use to describe Belfodil's shooting (eight league goals from 59 shots since the 2011-12 season).
His finishing needs improvement if he wants to become a prolific goal-scorer.
These are the negative traits in Belfodil's game possible Premier League suitors should consider before signing him on loan.