Arsenal FC and Manchester United have joined the race to sign Torino forward Alessio Cerci.
The 26-year-old, who recently made an appearance in the second half of the international friendly between Italy and Germany, has been in inspiring form this season for Torino. Cerci has already scored 8 goals in 11 starts in the league along with three assists. The Italian international is a versatile footballer who can play both as a winger and as a second striker. Giampiero Ventura has been using him on the right of front three in his 4-3-3 formation recently, but when the Italian side have played with a front two, Cerci has been played alongside Ciro Immobile upfront.
His goal scoring form has improved dramatically. Last season he scored eight goals in 32 games in the Serie A for Torino and he has already equalled that tally this season. Ventura has provided him with an added sense of freedom, changing him from a winger to a second striker and Cerci is flourishing in the new role. The former Roma man was signed from Fiorentina in 2012 by Torino, under a co-ownership agreement. At the start of this season Torino purchased the other half of the ownership from Fiorentina.
Cerci has drawn interest from a lot of clubs since the summer transfer window. Napoli were interested in signing him and even held talks with his agent. But a move failed to materialize as Torino turned down a bid from the Naples based club. Atletico Madrid have also been monitoring his progress and are expected to make a move for him in the winter transfer window. The Spanish club are sceptical about the future of in-demand striker Diego Costa and have earmarked Cerci as his possible replacement if Costa leaves in January or in the summer.
Recent reports from England suggest that both Manchester United and Arsenal have also joined the race for the signature of Alessio Cerci. United scouts have monitored Cerci for the last few months and David Moyes is willing to make a bid for him in January. While United don’t require any more names in their forward line, Moyes might be looking to use him as winger. Nani, Valencia and Ashley Young have had a disappointing season so far as none of them have performed consistently. Cerci could add a bit of spark on the wings and could also prove to be a source of goals from midfield.
But Manchester United will face competition from Arsenal, who are also interested in signing the Italian international. Arsene Wenger is desperate to add another striker in January, but is well aware that big names hardly look to change clubs in the winter transfer window. Arsenal have been linked with Benzema and Dzeko, but Wenger might settle for a lesser name, someone who could play as a striker upfront when Olivier Giroud is rested. Cerci will also be an useful option on the right and provide competition to Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who have suffered from injuries this season.
Torino are desperate to hold on to Cerci, but are finding it hard to negotiate an extension on his current contract which expires in 2015. If they fail to tie down Cerci to a long term deal, they might well look to sell him and make the most out of this demand. But Giampiero Ventura will not entertain any bid under £16m for Alessio Cerci.