Name: Antonio Candreva
International Caps: 21
Position: Right Winger
A week ago today, most football fans in England wouldn’t have heard of or seen Candreva in action. However, the 27 year old announced himself on these shores by running Leighton Baines ragged and delivering the assist for Mario Balotelli’s match-winning header in Italy’s 2-1 victory over the Three Lions. The winger, expected to start against Costa Rica this afternoon, is reportedly on the radar of Arsenal and Liverpool.
Candreva impressed in the Confederations Cup last summer and was identified by many as the Azzurri’s man of the match in their opening victory this summer. The 27 year old enjoyed a productive season at club level too, racking up twelve goals and six assists. These statistics make for even greater reading when Lazio’s final position of 9th in Serie A is taken into consideration.
A strong long-distance passer, Candreva is proficient at picking out team-mates with deep crosses and poses a threat on the counter-attack. With that latter point in mind, the 27 year old could fit seamlessly in with Arsenal or Liverpool’s style of play.
The winger possesses a dangerous long range shot and a clear eye for goal, evident in his form for Lazio this season. Concerns linger over his pace but Candreva’s work rate helps to compensate, with the 27 year old always providing an industrious presence out on the right flank.
Despite Lazio signing Candreva outright from their co-ownership deal with Udinese only a few days ago, speculation continues to link the winger with the Premier League. The Italian himself has fuelled these rumours, suggesting that the prospect of Champions League football may prove too difficult to turn down. A valuation in the region of £20 million may be prohibitive, but if the Italian maintains his impressive form in Brazil, Arsenal or Liverpool could be tempted to negotiate.