Giaccherini joined Sunderland from Juventus in the summer of 2013, but after two seasons where he was in and out of the Black Cats’ starting lineup, he returned to Italy on loan.
The 31-year-old enjoyed a better campaign with Serie A side Bologna on loan, but it still came as quite a surprise to see Italy head coach Antonio Conte include him in the squad for the European Championship.
Giaccherini, though, has justified his selection as he has played a key role in Italy’s impressive victories over both Belgium and Sweden, subsequently seeing Conte’s side reach the knockout stages.
The former Cesena man opened the scoring against Belgium in the first game, but it was his all-round tidy display during Friday’s 1-0 win over Sweden which has prompted such praise.
Giaccherini took 31 touches and maintained an 84.6% pass-accuracy rate, and it was his delightful cross which Marco Parolo could only head against the woodwork which very much sealed AS’s Iniesta comparison.
The Barcelona maestro teed up Gerard Pique for Spain’s winner in the 1-0 win over the Czech Republic with a super cross, and Giaccherini whipped in an almost carbon copy which Italy somehow failed to score from.
Sunderland’s attacking midfielder has made all the right noises in France thus far, though it still may not be enough to convince boss Sam Allardyce as the player’s future at the Stadium of Light remains in question.