English centre-back Chris Smalling has seen his reputation soar after enjoying a successful loan spell at Roma during the 2019-20 campaign. He could now be subject to a summer transfer tug-of-war after Serie A champions Juventus expressed an interest in signing him from Man Utd on a permanent deal. Former Red Devils star Ashley Young has also enjoyed a late career renaissance after signing for Antonio Conte’s Inter side.
English players are increasingly willing to head abroad to ply their trade nowadays, with several stars lighting up the Bundesliga and La Liga. The success of Smalling and Young in Serie A could pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps. Several Englishmen have been linked with moves to Italian clubs this summer, so who could be next to make the move?
The England international has all the attributes to flourish if he makes the move to Serie A this summer. A couple of years ago, he was rated as one of the world’s best left-backs and linked with a £45 million move to Man Utd. However, he stayed at Spurs and his career fizzled out somewhat due to injuries and a slight dip in form. Rose found himself out of favour after Jose Mourinho took over as Tottenham manager, and he spent the second half of the season on loan at Newcastle.
He showed glimpses of his best form while marauding up and down the left touchline for the Magpies, and that put him firmly in the shop window this summer. Rose is now 30 years old, and he fits the bill for an Englishman moving to Serie A. There was once a time when the finest English talents would seek a move Italy, including Paul Gascoigne and David Platt, but Serie A clubs no longer have the financial might to compete with their English counterparts. The new trend is for aging, slightly washed up stars to go out to Italy in a bid to prove their doubters wrong. It worked for Young and Smalling, and now it could be Rose’s turn. He has been linked with a move to Lazio during the transfer window, and it could be a great decision for both parties.
The Man Utd winger is a few years younger than Rose, Young and Smalling, but his faltering career is definitely in need of a jump-start. Lingard looked like one of the brightest English talents of his generation when he burst onto the scene in 2015. He scored wondergoals, dazzled with his pace and flair and played a starring role for England in their World Cup campaign. Yet his stock has plummeted of late after his form nosedived, the goals dried up and he became a marginal figure at Old Trafford.
Lingard is now 27 years old and he may need to leave Old Trafford in search of regular football. He has had to deal with tough personal issues, and a move abroad could benefit him and his family. Roma are said to be competing with Borussia Monchengladbach and Newcastle in a bid to capture his signature. He could enjoy playing alongside former Man Utd teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan in Rome, and possibly Smalling if the centre-back returns.
Barkley is another talented English midfielder that has seemingly lost his way over the past year. He was once touted as the next Gascoigne, while Barcelona legend Xavi hailed him as the next big thing, but thus far he has failed to live up to his potential. Everton eventually let him go to Chelsea for just £15 million in the summer of 2018, and he has been a peripheral figure at Stamford Bridge. Competition for places in the Chelsea midfield is fierce, with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all vying for a starting berth, and Kai Havertz on the brink of moving to West London, so Barkley may have to leave the club.
He upset his teammates by missing a penalty in a 1-0 Champions League defeat to Valencia – he stepped up to take it without consulting teammates, bypassing the regular penalty takers – and landed himself in trouble when pictured topless in a nightclub before the return fixture in Valencia. Serie A managers might therefore be wary of signing him, but his potential is undeniable. He would not get into the midfield at Juventus or Inter, the favourites in the Serie A soccer betting, but he could make a solid option for a club battling for the top four.
The versatile Englishman won two Premier League titles during his time at Man City and ended up earning 20 caps for the national team. He moved to Everton last summer, and he was tasked with shoring up the Toffees’ midfield. However, Delph was unable to lead the club to new heights, and they slumped to a 12th placed finish. Fans have started joking that the Everton training ground has become a fire hazard due to the amount of deadwood it contains, and Carlo Ancelotti would probably delighted to move on Delph and several others this summer.
He has not exactly shone for Everton, but he still has the attributes to enjoy a resurgence in Italy. The pace of the game is slower in Serie A, and Delph spent several years playing for Pep Guardiola at Man City, so he should be able to read the game well. His versatility is a key asset, as he can play in central midfield or at full-back, and he could bring a touch of steel to an Italian club next season.
Hart was immediately deemed surplus to requirements when Guardiola took over as Man City manager. It was a brutal blow for the England number one, who had helped lead the club to two Premier League titles under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini. He is a fantastic shot stopper, but he lacks the passing ability to play Guardiola’s preferred brand of football. Hart was shipped out on a season-long loan spell to Torino, and he spent the next season with West Ham, before signing for Burnley in a permanent deal back in 2018.
However, Hart has been unable to establish himself as the Clarets’ first-choice goalkeeper. Nick Pope came within a whisker of clinching the Golden Glove this season, and Hart was forced to play understudy. He is now 33, but he should have a few years left in the tank, and he enjoyed his time in Serie A, so he could be tempted to move back to Italy if a club is prepared to take a chance on him. Hart has 75 England caps and was the country’s first-choice goalkeeper until Guardiola ditched him in 2017. He could be a great asset to a Serie A club if a talented manager helps him rediscover his best form.