Could Napoli's Manalo Gabbiadini replace Graziano Pelle at Southampton?
Southampton are looking to bring a forward in this month to replace Graziano Pelle, who moved to China this summer. According to Italian website Tutto Mercato Web, one of the players on their radar is Manalo Gabbiadini, who currently plays for Napoli. Southampton are believed to have made contact about the Italian forward and it could be a story that develops over the coming days.
He has played in Italy for numerous clubs including Juventus, Bologna, Atalanta, Sampdoria and Napoli. It is impressive that he has represented as many clubs as he has considering he is only 24. He has yet to settle at any club and has been a frequent mover as a result. The link to Southampton comes at an odd time as Napoli have recently sold Gonzalo Higuain and Gabbiadini could play a more prominent role at the club this season.
Gabbiadini has scored a goal in the league every 118.95 minutes across the last two seasons, despite being used sparingly at times. He is very good in the air and an effective finisher from outside the area. As well as his threat in open play, the Italian has the ability to score from free kicks and has done so frequently throughout his career.
Although he isn’t the quickest, Gabbiadini likes to gamble and make runs in behind the back four. His anticipation stands out and his movement as a result marks him as a constant threat. He differs from Pelle in that he is better technically and can drop deeper to influence the game, but he still possesses an aerial threat. Moreover, his first touch is superb and often allows him to create a yard of space to get his shot away.
It will be tough to get Napoli to agree to sell him as he has upped his game in pre-season and looks ready to take on more responsibility after the club lost Higuain. Over the weekend he scored four goals during the club’s convincing victory over AS Monaco. At the beginning of the summer, it looked likely that the Italian international would be leaving the Stadio San Paulo, but his performance against Monaco suggests he could still have a future at the club.
The forward might be interested in a move, as it would give him to opportunity to play in the Premier League and first team opportunities aren’t guaranteed at Napoli, despite Higuain leaving. They have spent big on Arek Milik and the Poland international hasn’t been signed to play a squad role. At €30m+, he is going to be a first team regular and as such, Gabbiadini could be used as a substitute once again.
Southampton would be a good fit for him, as they have a lot of creative talent in the squad, therefore chances will be created for the Italian. As for competition, Shane Long, Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez have all struggled with injuries in the past and none have managed to make the striking position their own. Long is likely to start the season as first choice, but Gabbiadini would replace the aerial ability provided by Pelle and is a better all-around player than Long. Also he still has a lot of time to develop and could yet become a Champions League calibre striker.
This isn’t going to be a straight forward transfer to complete as Napoli will want to bring another striker in before letting Gabbiadini leave. They signed the Italian for around £12m and they would expect a profit on that if they are to agree to sell him to Southampton. He would be a good signing for Saints as he brings some much needed aerial presence. Also unlike the current striking options available to Claude Puel, Gabbiadini has a consistent scoring record at a high level.
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