How Serie A Became a Safe Haven for English Castaways

Since the launch of the Premier League in 1993, the balance of power slowly but surely shifted towards the English shores. Gone were the days when some of the biggest of British stars had to cross the English channel in order to make a name for themselves on the “continent”. Suddenly, Serie A was no longer the envy of the world, and while English football is still flourishing until this day, Calcio is navigating in a sea of problems.

And yet, a new trend has emerged in the last few years; A section of English players are once again intrigued by Italian football.

While these men are far from being the cream of the crop in England, We’re still talking about reputable names.

Perhaps the two men who instigated the whole movement were Ashley Cole (who moved to Roma in 2014) and more notably Joe Hart who shocked two nations when he made the switch from Manchester City to Torino in 2016.

At the time, the Three Lions goalkeeper was amongst the most recognizable shot-stoppers in the world. But when Pep Guardiola told him that his services were no longer needed at the Etihad Stadium, he decided to seek an unusual path.

But within the last two years or so, this pattern is becoming more and more recurrent. From Ashley Young’s experience at Inter, to Chris Smalling’s switch to Roma, some English veterans are now hoping to reignite their careers in Serie A, away from the overly-critical British tabloids.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t just the old and experienced, but even some of the up-and-coming young talents are now viewing Italy as a country where they can sharpen their skills and make names for themselves.

Last January, Fikayo Tomori found himself as a castaway at Chelsea. So the young defender packed his bags and landed in Milan. Twelve months later, the Rossoneri defender is now recognized as a household name at San Siro and one his best center backs in the league.

His former Blues teammate Tammy Abraham then followed suit, as the lack of playing time forced him to leave the nest. But instead of trying to build his career at some midtable Premier League club, he opted to take one of the many roads that lead to Rome.

The striker became an instant hit in the Eternal City and a crowd favorite. So perhaps his swift success story encouraged his compatriot Ainsley Maitland-Niles to follow suit.

Interestingly, when the Giallorossi hosted Juventus last Sunday, three of their starters were actually English – that’s more than any other nationality (including Italian) in José Mourinho’s first XI.

Such stat would have been unimaginable just few years ago, but it’s now a reality.

The English have arrived!

Of course they are. After all, three of them (formerly from Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea) are now leading the charge at the heart of the Italian capital.

Furthermore, another Red Devil has made the move to Italy this month. We’re talking about Axel Tuanzebe who arrived to bolster Napoli’s defensive department.

For several decades, Italian football has been painted in an generally bad light in the English media, mostly focusing on negative aspects, including incidents related to racism.

But with the growing number of English players within the ranks of the top Serie A boys, perhaps the British fans will now be introduced to a more enticing look of Italian football.

Undoubtedly, some of those stars will shine with their Italian clubs, but others will fail to adjust to their new environment and sail back home on the first occasion.

So while the English are surely here, the question remains; Are they here to stay?