Coral’s Serie A squad of former Premier League players
With Serie A tantalisingly close to a return, and Roma signing up a seventh former Premier League player in Edin Dzeko on loan from Manchester City, Coral experts up the anticipation by presenting our starting XI of players to have switched from the English to Italian top-flight.
Here are our picks, plus subs…
Goalkeeper: Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Former Liverpool cult hero and custodian Reina first followed ex-boss Rafa Benitez to the San Paolo on loan, and sandwiched a stint at Bayern Munich in-between, before returning to the Little Donkeys permanently.
The Barcelona-bred goalie has spades of experience that puts him ahead of Wojciech Szczesny in our XI.
Originally a Nerazzurri academy graduate, given his Inter debut by a certain Jose Mourinho, Santon returned to the fold following three full seasons with Newcastle United.
Centre back: Alex (AC Milan)
Bullish Brazilian defender Alex struggled to break up the lauded partnership of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho, then later David Luiz, at Chelsea and was eventually offloaded to PSG in 2012, before finding his way to the San Siro.
Centre back: Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan)
Despite a fairly disastrous debut season in the blue and black half of Milan, formidable Serbian centre half Vidic is still classed as one of the Premier League’s greatest rearguard enforcers. A real tough cookie, players don’t come more passionate than the former Manchester United leader.
Left back: Patrice Evra (Juventus)
It was tough to leave Ashley Cole on the bench but, while both flying full backs were in competition to be considered the best in England, it is ex-Red Devils favourite Evra who has taken to Italy like a duck to water winning a Serie A and Coppa Italia double with Juve last term.
Defensive midfield: Gary Medel (Inter Milan)
Tenacious Chile international Medel just beats out Nigel de Jong to man our engine room, with his versatility, never-say-die attitude and superior passing ability earning the former Cardiff City anchorman the nod.
However, the fiercely ambitious future France superstar made just a handful of senior outings at Old Trafford before leaving for Turin on a Bosman. Three successive Scudetti suggest it was a wise move.
Central midfield: Jonathan de Guzman (Napoli)
Canada-born Dutch international De Guzman’s career path has not quite hit the heights expected, but the 27-year-old still scored some crucial goals for former loan club Swansea City, before opting to join Campania club Napoli, evens for a top three finish, permanently instead.
Right wing: Gervinho (Roma)
Ex-Arsenal attacker Gervinho stunned the Stadio Olimpico as he scored nine and assisted 12 in his first season, despite arriving from the Emirates with a reputation as a forward flop.
Left wing: Mohamed Salah (Roma)
The Egypt international whipped-up a transfer frenzy this summer, with former loan club Fiorentina, Inter (7/4 for a top three finish) and Roma all vying to lease him from parent club Chelsea.
After excelling with Viola last term, netting six in 16, Salah eventually chose to join the Giallorossi, and will now have to prove himself all over again.
Centre forward: Edin Dzeko (Roma)
Dangerous Dzeko has the chance to become a leading man again, after Man City allowed their Bosnia and Herzegovina international to exit the Etihad. Can he be Serie A top scorer? watch this space.
Substitutes: Wojciech Szczesny (Roma); Maicon (Roma); Vlad Chiriches (Napoli); Ashley Cole (Roma); Nigel de Jong (AC Mialn); Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan); Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina).