Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd crave capture of Lazio’s Antonio Candreva
Premier League heavyweights Arsenal (80/1 for the title), Liverpool (now 11/5 second-favourites) and Manchester United are all keeping tabs on Lazio attacking midfielder Antonio Candreva.
The 27-year-old, who can operate wide right, off the front or as a playmaker, has caught the eye at the Stadio Olimpico this season.
Candreva is Lazio’s joint leading scorer, alongside Germany veteran Miroslav Klose, with eight in all competitions. He also has 10 assists.
With 18 Italy caps to his name, Candreva became a regular on their roster under pragmatic Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli during qualification for the World Cup.
He was also a part of their squad that went to the Confederations Cup in Brazil last summer.
Candreva’s versatility has been an asset for both club and especially country, as Prandelli has a penchant for adapting formations and personnel in reaction to different opponents.
The player is co-owned by Udinese, but this is likely to be resolved in the summer as Lazio want to make him a permanent acquisition.
Italian rules allow two clubs to own stakes in footballers, but Udinese are willing to waive all rights to Candreva. His approximate valuation by them and Lazio is rumoured to be in the region of £7m.
All three of the Premier League clubs chasing Candreva are keen to strengthen their midfield options in the next transfer window. They would be getting a player in his prime, but Italian footballers have not always been a success in England’s top-flight.
For every cult hero like Paolo Di Canio and Gianfranco Zola, there are players such as Alberto Aquilani, who flopped at Liverpool.
Resembling former Rangers and AC Milan destroyer Gennaro Gattuso in appearance, Candreva is reportedly intrigued by the prospect of playing in the Premier League, however, so Brendan Rodgers may make a bid for him.
Given the glut of Gunners midfielders, it is difficult at this stage to see where he would fit in under Arsene Wenger.
Candreva would most likely be deployed as a deeper-lying playmaker at Old Trafford, but Red Devils manager David Moyes has rumoured higher-profile targets, although he could represent a cheaper alternative to Toni Kroos and others.
Potential English suitors and a worldwide audience will all get a closer look at Candreva at this summer’s World Cup. Italy have been drawn in Group D alongside the Three Lions.
The Azzurri are 13/8 favourites with Coral to win this pool (and odds-on at 4/9 to qualify for the knockout phase), which also contains Uruguay and Costa Rica. Back the four-time World Cup winners to go all the way for a fifth global title at 25/1.