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Top 6 Italians to have played in the Premier League ahead of Euro 2020 final showdown

Top 6 Italians to have played in the Premier League ahead of Euro 2020 final showdown

England vs Italy

England are, of course, set to face off with Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

The match will see several club teammates go head-to-head, with Jorginho of Italy and Mason Mount of England both plying their trade at club level for Chelsea.

Emerson Palmieri, also of Chelsea and Italy, is too expected to feature in the final. But, at present, Jorginho is arguably the most high-profile Italian honing his craft in the Premier League.

Over the years, though, there have been a number of top Azzurri talents to have graced the English top-flight with their presence.

Now, ahead of Sunday’s clash, we have taken a look back at some of the best to have done so in the Premier League era.

6) Mario Balotelli

After breaking through the youth ranks at Inter Milan and winning the Champions League under Jose Mourinho, Mario Balotelli was snapped up by a newly minted Manchester City in 2010.

The striker was viewed at the time as a fantastic young prospect, who could go to the very top of the game.

However, his antics on and off the field hampered Balotelli considerably. This, though, did not stop the Italian from scoring 30 and assisting seven in 80 outings for City, playing a key role in the club securing a first-ever Premier League title.

The now-30-year-old then went on to play out a much less prolific stint with Liverpool. Nevertheless, he will always be fondly remembered on the blue half of Manchester.

Top 6 Italians to have played in the Premier League ahead of Euro 2020 final showdown

KIEV, UKRAINE – JUNE 24: Joleon Lescott of England and Mario Balotelli of Italy during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

5) Graziano Pelle

Next up on our list is Graziano Pelle, who enjoyed a brief but memorable stint in the Premier League with Southampton.

Pelle was signed by the Saints in the summer of 2014 from Dutch outfit, Feyenoord.

The striker scored 12 and assisted two in 38 league outings in his debut campaign, playing a key role in Southampton finishing 7th – their second highest finish in PL history.

The following campaign then saw the Italian rack up 11 goals and seven assists in 30 ties, as the Saints matched their best-ever Premier League finish by coming 6th and securing Europa League football.

Pelle would then depart for China in the summer of 2016.

4) Fabrizio Ravanelli

Fabrizio Ravanelli’s stint in the English top-flight proved fairly brief, but he was still able to win over many with his starring displays for Middlesbrough.

The forward joined Boro in 1996 from Italian powerhouse, Juventus. And though he spent just one campaign on Teesside, the Italian managed to score 19 and assist three – playing a key role in Middlesbrough reaching both the FA Cup and League Cup finals.

Unfortunately for Boro, they were also relegated from the Premier League that year, before selling Ravanelli to Marseille during the ensuing summer.

Ravanelli returned to England in 2001 with Derby County, and enjoyed a decent, albeit less prolific spell with the Rams.

3) Roberto Di Matteo

Roberto Di Matteo would spend most of his career on the books of Chelsea.

The midfielder signed for the Blues in 1996, after departing Serie A outfit, Lazio.

Di Matteo went on to notch 161 appearances for the Londoners, across which he scored 23 and assisted six.

Three of those goals, meanwhile, proved extremely important for Chelsea in their hunt for silverware.

Di Matteo would score the opening goal as the Pensioners beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the 1997 FA Cup final.

He then netted the second goal of the 1997/98 League Cup final, which saw Chelsea once again beat Boro 2-0.

And, finally, the Italian notched the only goal of the game as the Blues saw off Aston Villa in the 2000 FA Cup final.

2) Paolo Di Canio

Controversial, unconventional, dramatic, outstanding – all words that could be used to describe Paolo Di Canio.

Whilst the Italian has been a divisive figure over the years, on his day, he proved himself to be an outstanding talent.

Di Canio first came to the Premier League in 1997, joining Sheffield Wednesday from Celtic. The forward went on to enjoy a superb breakout season in England, scoring 12 and assisting four in 35 Premier League ties for the Owls.

It was during his time with West Ham, however, when Di Canio truly earned his status as a Premier League legend.

Between 1999 and 2003, he featured 137 times for the Hammers, scoring some sensational goals – including that volley:

1) Gianfranco Zola

Number one on this list, of course, goes to Gianfranco Zola.

Zola would arrive at Chelsea in the same season as the aforementioned Di Mateo, and also played a key role in the club winning two FA Cups and a League Cup.

The forward brought an entirely new style of football to Stamford Bridge, with his quick feet, creativity and brilliant first touch a far cry from what the Premier League had become accustomed to when it came to central attackers.

Much like Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal, Zola played a key role in helping England shift away from the traditional 4-4-2 featuring two old-style centre-forwards, as the Italian instead preferred to operate just behind the striker in more of a no.10 role, or ‘trequartista’, as it is known in Italy.

All told, Zola featured 301 times for Chelsea, racking up 75 goals and 20 assists in the process.

Some of his best efforts can be seen below:

This article was edited by Conor Laird.

Chelsea betting odds, next game:

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Tottenham 9/1 13/2
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3 Liverpool FC 4 8 10
4 Everton FC 4 6 10
5 Manchester City 4 10 9
6 Brighton & Hove Albion 4 2 9
7 Tottenham Hotspur 4 0 9
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Gray, Demarai Everton FC 3
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 3
Sarr, Ismaila Watford FC 3
Greenwood, Mason Manchester United 3
Ings, Danny Aston Villa 2
Saint-Maximin, Allan Newcastle United 2
Benrahma, Said West Ham United 2
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 2
Toney, Ivan Brentford FC 2
Fornals, Pablo West Ham United 2
Torres, Ferran Manchester City 2
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 2
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 2
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 2
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