2014 World Cup, 20 of the Azzurri’s 23 squad members were contracted to Italian clubs, although this number reduced to 18 for the European Championships in France.
There are a few examples, however, of Serie A players succeeding in some of Europe’s other top leagues, among them the seven players who have scored in each of the continent’s top four leagues.
Here are just four examples of Serie A stars who haven’t become homesick when they’ve taken the leap and moved abroad.
The understudy of the great Diego Maradona at Napoli, the “little magician” was largely underappreciated during his time in Italy, winning just 35 caps for his country and falling out of favour at Parma in 1996. Zola, then aged 30, became one of the first real star foreigners to play in the Premier League when he signed for Chelsea and, after arriving at Stamford Bridge, never really looked back. In 2003, he was voted the club’s greatest ever player, and rumour has it that he was so valued that Roman Abramovich tried to buy Cagliari to prevent Zola from returning to his boyhood club.
Strictly speaking, Motta was born and raised in Brazil, but he’s been able to play for the Azzurri 30 times due to his paternal grandfather being Italian. When the defensive midfielder rocked up at Inter Milan in 2009, he did so after largely being a reserve at Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. However, after becoming a key member of José Mourinho’s Champions League-winning squad, Motta transferred to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, winning four Ligue 1 titles.
The World Cup-winning captain’s career was drawing to a close when he moved to Real Madrid in 2006, but the centre-back still managed to win two La Liga titles during his time in Spain. Remarkably, because the Serie A titles that he won with Juventus were revoked after the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, these were the only league trophies that the former Napoli, Parma and Inter legend managed to win during his career.
The Gabonese international’s professional career began in 2007 at AC Milan, where his father was – and still is – a scout. The club were then European champions, meaning that Aubameyang struggled to get a game in Italy. Loan moves to France followed, before transfers to Saint-Étienne and Borussia Dortmund – and plenty of goals in between – helped establish him as one of the world’s leading strikers.
Are any current Serie A players likely to emulate Zola, Motta, Cannavaro and Aubameyang during the summer transfer window? The odds offered by UK betting sites would suggest so.
With Premier League clubs flush with cash and the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich always looking to improve upon what they have, Serie A stars such as Paolo Dybala and Radja Nainggolan are in high demand. Who’ll be next to move?