After a season spent ravaging opposing defences alongside Ciro Immobile at Torino, Alessio Cerci was in high demand over the summer.
With 13 goals and 10 assists in the bank in Serie A last term, the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal were all said to be interested in his services.
But a move to the Premier League wasn’t written in the stars for the Italy international, who instead joined Spanish champions Atletico Madrid for €15 million on deadline day.
The former Granata man has found going tough with the La Liga title-holders, however, playing just 119 total minutes of football and failing to earn a start so far.
And admission of his unhappiness sitting on the Atletico bench reportedly has Arsenal and United poised to go back in for him in January to bolster their respective attacks.
Following are three questions posed by United and Arsenal’s links with Cerci.
Do either of the sides truly need him?
Cerci is a versatile customer, able to play out wide and get to the byline or as a second striker in the hole behind a main centre-forward.
Louis van Gaal already faces a weekly headache of how to fit the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Falcao and Juan Mata into his starting eleven at United.
Signing Cerci would only complicate things in attack, where he would be in line to compete with Rooney and Mata for the supporting roles, so his presence seemingly isn’t required.
At Arsenal he’d find a bit more space, able to occupy any of the positions in behind the striker in either the 4-2-3-1 formation or 4-1-4-1 set-up.
There would still be plenty of competition for him but Cerci is the type of player Wenger would love to try to get the best out of, even if the Gunners need help in other areas.
Will Atletico let Cerci leave in January?
Atletico boss Diego Simeone is said to have personally requested that Cerci be signed over the summer, a sign of commitment to the player from the Argentine.
Still, having him sit on the bench with a €15 million price-tag isn’t doing anybody any good, unless Simeone is biding his time as the 27-year-old adapts to new surroundings.
Cerci’s statement that he ‘didn’t go to Madrid to not play’ is a sign that his patience is already wearing thin and could be agitating for a move upon the turn of the New Year.
Asked whether the Italian would be sold in January, Atleti president Enrique Cerezo said on Thursday: “Let’s wait until December, but I do not think so”.
How would Cerci fare in the Premier League?
The Roma youth product is a high-energy player with pace to burn and lovely technique that it took him longer than expected to harness.
As a youngster Cerci had a reputation for giving less than his all on the pitch and going full tilt off of it in his personal life, but those days appear to be gone at this point.
Despite his reliance on elegant qualities rather than strength, the Italian is a player who relishes physical challenges and has good stamina and a high work rate about him.
This, coupled with the fact that he’s hungry after spending months on the bench, suggests that he has the tools necessary to be a success on English shores.