With four goals in his first five matches for the Saints, Graziano Pelle has hit the ground running in England after being seemingly plucked from obscurity.
The 29-year-old followed manager Ronald Koeman to Southampton from Feyenoord after signing for £9 million, scoring an impressive 50 goals in 57 appearances for the Dutch club.
Until joining Feyenoord in 2012, Pelle had never really cemented himself as a prolific striker in Europe, with inconsistent spells with the likes of Sampdoria, Parma, AZ Alkamaar and Cesena.
However, his last two seasons in the Eredivisie was where he finally came of age, with the 193cm striker developing a supreme eye for goal which is now being recognised by Italian national team boss Antonio Conte.
Pelle was reportedly placed on a ‘pre-list’for Italy’s recent friendly with Holland and their Euro 2016 qualifier Norway, and Conte has acknowledged he is keeping tabs on the Saints striker.
He has played for the Azzurri at U21 level and at the Olympics, but never at senior level. If Pelle was to be selected for the national team for Italy’s next Euro 2016 qualifier against Azerbaijan on October 10, he would join the Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez in making their international debut while at the club.
Koeman made Pelle his priority signing since crossing over from Feyenoord, and it appears that the transfer fee of £9 million could prove to be one of the seasons best buys.
Brought in to replace the outgoing Rickie Lambert, Pelle has done a fine job in the early stages of the season to suggest he can fill the England international’s shoes.
The Italian scored twice in Southampton’s 4-0 romp of Newcastle last weekend, and possesses all the qualities to make it as a fine attacker in the English top-flight.
He is quick and agile for his size, is good in the air and has a lethal left-foot, Pelle developed a fine all-round game in Holland and has certainly continued his good form in England.
In the mold of Lambert, Pelle is also a late-bloomer.
Only two years ago he was playing in Italy’s Serie B, and now Pelle finds himself playing in arguably the best league in the world.
Southampton have thus far defied all the odds after losing several key players and their manager over the summer, and seem to have this knack of signing and producing new stars.
The 1-0 win over Swansea at the weekend was further justification into their resurgence as a football club, with Pelle again featuring prominently with an assist.
Pelle may be 29 years of age, but should he continue his brilliant form, it will go a long way into seeing a successful top half finish for the Saints this season.
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