90min
Serie A

Best possible destinations for Manuel Locatelli

Max Cooper
A star is born
A star is born / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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Finally, the rest of Europe is privy to the information Serie A viewers (and avid Football Manager players) have been screaming from their balconies for the past two seasons: Manuel Locatelli is one of the best midfielders on the continent.

All it took was an immaculate and breakthrough performance on the international stage for the 23-year-old, scoring twice in Italy's 3-0 destruction of Switzerland.

It was an evening which confirmed gli Azzurri's place as new sneaky favourites for Euro 2020, and produced one of the most dominant and balanced midfield displays that we've seen in the summer tournament.

At the heart of that was Locatelli, who added another €10m or so to his ever-increasing price tag. The Sassuolo star is the most in-demand central midfielder in Italian football right now, and his future is destined to lie away from Emilia-Romagna.

The former Milan star's incredible array of skills means he can play in a variety of roles across the middle of the park, making him the ideal signing for several European giants in the transfer window. But which club needs him the most, and which is the best move for the midfielder?

90min assesses Locatelli's lengthy line of admirers.


7. Arsenal

Manuel Locatelli
A superstar too bright for Arsenal / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Is the year 2004? No. So why are Arsenal being linked to the best players in the world? In the nicest way possible, the Gunners do not stand a chance in this race - and any slim hopes they harboured have been dashed by Locatelli's dazzling displays on the European stage.

Arsenal simply can't compete in terms of salary, current ambitions or future hopes of silverware, and there's absolutely no reason that Locatelli would choose north London over several other destinations.

Mikel Arteta would certainly love to deploy him in his midfield, and they do need a player like him in their team - but in the same way that Burnley need a player like that in their team - he's just above their level right now.

Sorry, but it's not the step up in his career that the Italian will be looking for.


6. Liverpool

Thiago Alcantara
A stacked midfield / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool fans will be desperate for some investment this summer, having put up a pretty pathetic title defence. Locatelli could be a possible signing, especially with Naby Keita continuing to disappoint in red.

But would Locatelli be best suited to Liverpool's system? Realistically, he's not replacing Fabinho in the base of the midfield, and Thiago Alcantara is the pass-master of the team.

That leaves captain Jordan Henderson's spot, which would be hard to pinch. So, on paper, that Liverpool midfield is untouchable, and Locatelli would be left attempting to make his few minutes count. He deserves better than that.


5. Paris Saint-Germain

Manuel Locatelli
Ready for a move / Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain have been doing some serious business in the transfer window this summer, with the signings of Georginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnarumma set to improve an already star-studded side.

Along with Marco Verratti - the man Locatelli will have to dethrone from Italy's midfield when the superstar returns from injury - PSG have some wonderful options in the middle of the park.

Locatelli would certainly add to their plethora of riches, but the team (and the atmosphere) may not be the best place for his personal growth and development as a player.


4. Real Madrid

Toni Kroos
Locatelli could be the new Toni Kroos / Markus Gilliar/Getty Images

Locatelli has drawn comparisons with Real Madrid maestro Toni Kroos in the past, although his ability to dribble with the ball and burst between the lines makes him a more rounded - if not as technically gifted player.

But with Madrid's central options coming to the end of their respective careers, los Merengues must be looking for some young blood to bring the energy and drive back to their midfield.

Locatelli would fit perfectly into this Madrid team, although it could be argued that the quality of the squad has dipped so much, that Santiago Bernabeu is no longer the tempting prospect it once was.

Do they even have money, anyway?


3. Juventus

If Juventus want to prove that they are ready to become the top dogs in Italy once again, then they have to pay Sassuolo however much they ask for Locatelli, and give the player what he wants.

He is the answer to so many of the problems they've encountered in the past two years, with their unbalanced and abject midfield options eventually biting them in the behind.

Locatelli has the potential to become their new Andrea Pirlo - not as a coach, but as their midfield general, dictating the game and providing the control and terrifying aura that they've lost since Massimiliano Allegri left in 2019.


2. Manchester City

Pep Guardiola
Thinking about that midfield / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Speaking of Football Manager, this seems to be the most common transfer in the history of the video game - and we can see why. Locatelli could be the natural heir to Fernandinho's throne.

The young Italian can shield the defence and play as a holding midfielder, although that would not utilise his offensive set of skills. He could add the layer of protection required to allow Kevin de Bruyne to flourish and Ilkay Gundogan to go back to scoring every week, however.

In terms of ability, he would slot right into this Manchester City side, and his flexibility to be able to play anywhere across the midfield makes him an ideal Pep Guardiola player. Can't see much wrong with this one.


1. Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba
Potential future midfield partners / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Ask any Manchester United supporter, and they'd probably tell you they're only a centre-back and a holding midfielder away from being a force in European football once more.

Locatelli is the answer to half of their problems. Like with Man City, he would be used as a shield for the defence, rather than a box to box player or mezzala, meaning his goal record would be stunted.

But Man Utd don't need another attack-minded midfielder - just ask Donny van de Beek. In terms of how much the club needs him, and how well-suited he would be to their team, this is the best partnership of the lot.

Locatelli, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes. Just hand them the title now.


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