Ranking the Premier League’s 31 recent imports from Serie A as Tonali joins

Ian Watson
Romelu Lukaku, Rodrigo Bentancur and Arthur Melo all arrived in the Premier League from Serie A.

Amid Sandro Tonali’s move to Newcastle, there have been concerns expressed in the Mailbox about buying from Serie A. And it seems those fears are not entirely misplaced.

Here’s how we’ve ranked the 31 imports from Italy in the last three seasons. Tottenham have done pretty well, which you might expect given the influence of Fabio Paratici and Antonio Conte. But there are very few obvious hits…


31) Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Oh boy. Let’s be fair, none of us forecasted that Lukaku would flop quite so hard after making the £97million move back to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan. Inside a few months, he was publicly pining for Inter while blaming his problems on Thomas Tuchel’s tactics. Returned to Inter on loan and now in no-man’s land, with Chelsea looking to sell but no one willing to give them what they might want. But at least he turned down Saudi Arabia.


30) Arthur Melo (Liverpool)
A panic signing and, apparently, not even Liverpool’s first pick of Juve midfielders; they initially fancied Denis Zakaria. Arthur was among the floppiest of flops. His only senor appearance came in 13 minutes at the end of a 4-1 mauling at Napoli.


29) Weston McKennie (Leeds)
Signed for compatriot Jesse Marsh, who was sacked a week after McKennie arrived on loan from Juventus. No-one covered themselves in glory at Leeds through the second half of the season, but McKennie was bad. Really bad. Hooked on the hour in his final game to a chorus of ‘You fat b*stard’ from unimpressed Leeds fans.


28) Denis Zakaria (Chelsea)
It seems Liverpool wouldn’t have fared much better had they got Zakaria over Arthur. For Chelsea, he made five starts in a wretched side. West Ham seem to have seen something in him, though…


27) Thomas Strakosha (Brentford)
Weird one, this. Strakosha appeared a decent signing last summer, perhaps one capable of pushing David Raya for the No.1 spot. But the Albanian never laid a glove on Raya and with Mark Flekken signed for next season, Strakosha’s prospects appear bleak.


26) Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)
A massive anti-climax. Koulibaly was linked with the Premier League for years as a £100million defender. He finally arrived last summer at Chelsea for a third of that price and has already been packed off to Saudi at a loss.


25) Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham)
Michail Antonio summed it up by speaking of Scamacca’s technical quality but his inability to play as a front man in a David Moyes team. Which really should have been a consideration before the Hammers chucked £35million at Sassuolo. Likely to return to Italy this summer.


24) Cengiz Under (Leicester)
The Turkey winger was signed on loan in an attempt to fill the void on Leicester’s right flank but he managed a grand total of nine Premier League appearances before being sent back to Roma. Under was excited about returning to work with Jose Mourinho, who promptly packed him off to Marseille.


23) Samir (Watford)
The centre-back lasted just half a season at Watford after signing on a three-and-a-half-year contract from Udinese in 2022. Seemingly played as often as he did on the basis he was left-footed.


22) Lyanco (Southampton)
The Brazilian defender made 30 appearances for Saints last season – only 11 starts – after taking his own sweet time to settle following his £6million move from Torino in 2021. A process he never fully completed and Saints are now trying to get rid rather than take him to the Championship.


21) Pierluigi Gollini (Tottenham)
So underwhelmed were Tottenham fans by the few glimpses they saw of Gollini in 2021/22, it has made many of them wary of all Italian keepers. Guglielmo Vicario isn’t Gollini – but he needs a decent start to reassure Spurs supporters that they haven’t made another mistake by taking the cheaper option.


20) Allan (Everton)
Everton wrote off £21million when they tore up Allan’s contract, two years after they bought him from Napoli. The Brazilian did okay for Carlo Ancelotti but Frank Lampard decided he didn’t fancy the midfielder, especially when he bought three more last summer.


19) Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest)
The 31-year-old Switzerland international did a passable job in Forest’s midfield for much of last season but has a tendency to switch off defensively. Which is perhaps why he was dropped for the run-in following an 11-match winless run. With Freuler on the bench, Forest then lost one in six to stay up.


18) Matías Viña (Bournemouth)
Vina is Roma’s problem once more after Bournemouth passed on their option to buy the Uruguay left-back permanently for £13million.


17) Sasa Lukic (Fulham)
Only four Premier League starts since signing from Torino in January and Fulham lost all of them. Not sure yet if that’s just a coincidence.


16) Mikkel Damsgaard (Brentford)
We had massive hopes for the Denmark international having watched him tear up the Euros in 2021. But injuries have been a massive factor in his struggle since signing from Sampdoria last summer. While rebuilding him physically, Brentford are also trying to play him in a more central role so we’ll reserve judgement until next season.


15) Jakub Kiwior (Arsenal)
Might be decent, might not. The fact Arsenal are desperate for another centre-back suggests he’s seen as little more than a back-up.


14) Robin Olsen (Aston Villa)
Villa was Olsen’s third English club, with a spell at Sheffield United separating stints with Everton and Villa. Sat very obediently on the bench but is perhaps best remembered for being assaulted by a moron celebrating Man City’s final-day title triumph in 2022.


13) Robin Olsen (Everton)
Signed for the Toffees on loan in 2020 to serve as a back-up to Jordan Pickford, which he did perfectly adequately.


12) Hamed Junior Traorè (Bournemouth)
A January arrival, initially on loan from Sassuolo, Traore instantly added some much-needed creativity to a Bournemouth side before his season was prematurely ended by a foot injury. Still, he did enough for the Cherries to part with £21million to make it a permanent arrangement.


11) Ola Aina (Fulham)
The defender played across Fulham’s back four while on loan from Torino in 2020/21. Evidently, they were impressed enough to make a play to re-sign him as a free agent when his contract expires in Turin at the end of the week.


10) Amad Diallo (Man Utd)
Diallo has been brilliant – for Sunderland. We’ve no idea yet whether he’ll shine for United or even if he’ll get a chance. Which is strange to say of a rookie who might end up costing £30-35million.


9) Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
Carried United through parts of the dark, dark 2021/22 season, before attempting to torch Old Trafford when Erik ten Hag wouldn’t indulge his whims.

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag and Cristiano Ronaldo

8) Ivan Perisic (Tottenham)
Showed glimpses of the class we all know him to possess but the veteran struggled for consistency in last season’s Spurs squad – as did anyone not named Harry Kane. Likely to be packed off given Ange Postecoglou’s preference for a back four.


7) Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)
Provides decent cover on either side of Mikel Areteta’s defence when he’s not injured.


6) Aaron Hickey (Brentford)
“We are pleased with his first season, but there’s much more to come from him,” said Thomas Frank, summing up Brentford’s buy from Bologna. Man City have been linked with the Scotland international but Brentford know he’ll probably be worth plenty more in another year.


5) Timothy Castagne (Leicester)
The Belgian has been one of Leicester’s most consistent performers since his move from Atalanta in 2020 and no one played more minutes for the Foxes last season. Sure to get a decent move, perhaps back to Italy with Juventus.


4) Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Returned from Italy a Serie A title winner with Inter and stayed at Villa Park for two seasons despite initially signing for just one. Played for three managers and was equally consistent under each of them.


3) Cristian Romero (Tottenham)
Technically solid and great fun to watch on account of his dubious temperament. Ange Postecoglou needs to rebuild Tottenham’s defence, but it is likely to be remodelled around Romero, assuming the new boss can keep him engaged.


2) Dejan Kulusevski (Tottenham)
Arrived at Spurs from Juventus at the same time as his mate below and made a similarly positive impact. Kulusevski admitted he didn’t play well enough in the second half of last season but there is excitement over what Postecoglou might might get out of him.


1) Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham)
Bentancur became one of Spurs’ most influential players and they sorely missed him when he succumbed to a knee injury in February that ended his season and will cause him to miss the start of next term too.

Read next: Most expensive keepers ever | Most expensive defenders