The Premier League has seen many Italian footballers come and go from generation to generation. Italy is one of the most passionate footballing nations. The European nation is home to great clubs like A.C. Milan, Internazionale, Juventus, Roma, Napoli and a host of others. Many players from the nation tend to play in the domestic Serie A but some have plied their trades in other European countries including England.
The story of Italian footballers in the Premier League is somewhat fascinating. Italy as a nation are very fantastic on the international front but only a few players from the nation have really lit up the Premier League. You may have to go as far back to the days of Zola and Vialli to see how well Italians starred in the Premier League.
It is not that they have not been playing in England in recent times but the truth is they have not really made much impact. If we were to be talking about the impact of foreign players in the Premier League in the last 20 years, you’d easily point to a handful of players from other nations but not Italy. This is why we have decided to gather a few Italian footballers and see how their journey panned out in the EPL.
10. Patrick Cutrone
Cutrone rose through A.C. Milan’s youth system and broke into the first team in 2017. His performances were eye-catching that it was reported in the media that Milan has unearthed another talent. It was not going to be as he was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer of 2019. It is safe to say he joined Wolves at the wrong time as they already have established forwards in Traore, Jota, and Raul Jimenez. Their performances made sure his playing time was limited and he has since been loaned to Fiorentina in the last transfer window.
9. Matteo Darmian
Manchester United have not had an assured left-back since Patrice Evra left Old Trafford. Luke Shaw and co. have all tried their best but none of them are as good as the Frenchman. Matteo Darmian was brought in from Torino to fill the void in 2015. He never really settled in and his time with United was blighted with injuries. Darmian was one of the Italian footballers who did not enjoy a good time in England. He was sold to Parma in 2019 after four frustrating years at Old Trafford.
8. Gianluca Vialli
Vialli was one of the Italian footballers with Chelsea in the late 90s. The Italian forward joined Chelsea from Parma in 1996 at a time when Manchester United were the dominant force in the Premier League. There was no chance they’d win the EPL but they had a prolific forward in Vialli. He spent seven years with the blues making over 200 appearances in the league and scoring 59 goals. Vialli helped Chelsea in achieving domestic success leading them to one FA Cup and one league cup trophy.
7. Graziano Pelle
Pelle’s time in England was not too good and not too bad. The lanky striker had journeyed through Italy and the Netherlands playing for various teams until Southampton signed him in 2014. The transfer was a no-brainer as he just scored 23 league goals in 28 goals for Feyenoord. He spent two years with the Saints scoring 23 goals in 68 league appearances before moving to China with Shandong Luneng. He is banging in the goals there but the decision to move to China ended up costing him a place in the national team.
6. Roberto Di Matteo
Who can forget Roberto Di Matteo? He was among the Italian footballers with Chelsea in the late 90s. The midfielder was signed from Lazio in 1996 and he played for Chelsea till 2002 making over 100 Premier League appearances and scoring 26 goals. He helped Chelsea to two FA Cups and one league cup in the domestic scene. As a manager, he led Chelsea to win the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in the 2011/2012 season. This guy is a legend.
5. Mario Balotelli
Next on our list if Italian footballers is Super Mario. There is no doubt that Balotelli is a very talented footballer but his bad attitude never allowed him to reach the top of the pile. His journey in England began with Manchester City in 2010. He will be remembered for that last-ditch pass that led to Aguero’s last-minute goal against QPR when City dramatically won the league in 2012. Other than that, it was all controversies including setting his own house on fire. He also played for Liverpool but flopped there as well. His career has been on a downward slope since then.
4. Manolo Gabbiadini
Gabbiadini like Pelle also played for Southampton. He was signed from Napoli in 2017 and was with the Saints till 2019. The 6-foot forward never really had a prolific season at any of his previous teams so it was no surprise that he only scored 10 league goals in 51 games for the Saints. He did score two goals in their league cup final loss to Manchester United in 2017 but that was as good as it got. Gabbiadini currently plays for Sampdoria in the Serie A.
3. Gianluca Festa
Festa was one of the Italian footballers to first enter the Premier League. The central defender was signed from Internazionale by Middlesbrough in 1997. He immediately settled in adding some steel to Middlesbrough’s backline. He even scored on his debut. Festa was a tough tackler and he added his own share of goals from defense as well. He moved to Portsmouth in 2002 spending one season before returning to Italy.
2. Paolo Di Canio
Di Canio played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham, and Charlton Athletic n England. It was with the Hammers that he however established himself as a Premier League legend. He scored 47 goals in 118 league games for West Ham including that outrageous volley against Chelsea. He never won any domestic trophy.
1. Gianfranco Zola
Zola is definitely the best of all Italian footballers to ever play in the Premier League. He joined Chelsea from Parma in 1996 playing for them till 2003. He scored 59 league goals for the west London club but much more than that he led them to trophies too. His trophy haul includes two FA Cups and one league cup. He also won one community shield. Zola is a living Chelsea legend.