When Graziano Pelle, 30, came to England two years ago, few had heard of the Italian striker. Ronald Koeman had and polished his rough diamond into a Premier League marksman, as well as an Italian international.
The Dutch manager, newly installed as Everton boss, remains an admirer and is keen to bring the Southampton star to Goodison Park. He faces competition from Chelsea and like Koeman, their manager knows the player well.
Antonio Conte spent the summer prowling the touchline, kicking every ball – sometimes literally – as Italy reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, losing to Germany in an extraordinary penalty shootout.
He got to know Pelle well and is impressed not just with his work-rate but also the seven goals he has scored in his 17 internationals. Two came this summer, one against Belgium, the other Spain, in arguably the Italians best performances.
Now both managers believe the striker can improve their Premier League fortunes next season. Koeman’s need may be more pressing with Romelu Lukaku, 23, expected to leave but Conte also faces losing Diego Costa, 27, and needs a new target man to compensate.
For Pelle, it’s been hard work reaching this levels. He paid his dues at Lecce, Catania, Crotone and Cesena, before stepping up a level in Holland and his native Italy.
It must be something about the sea air. Goals have been hard to come by elsewhere but in Rotterdam with Feyenoord, and at St Mary’s, they have come easily. A move to Everton, in another port city, may suit him down to the ground.
Read all transfer ins and outs, completed deals visit football transfer news.