The last two Italian bad-boy strikers to hit British shores have been resounding failures, with Dani Osvaldo and Mario Balotelli flopping at Southampton and Liverpool respectively, but that shouldn’t put Premier League lesser-lights off newly free Antonio Cassano.
Osvaldo and Balotelli, who are both still registered as Premier League players, have managed a desperately underwhelming tally of three goals in 25 combined top-flight appearances for their respective sides, despite being sold for fees exceeding £30m between them.
It’s clear now that then-Saints gaffer Mauricio Pochettino and current Reds chief Brendan Rodgers made bad bets on the Azzurri pair at such high prices, but no such risk is attached to former Real Madrid, Milan and Inter sharp-shooter Cassano.
The 32-year-old’s Parma contract has been cancelled following the troubled northern-Italian outfit’s sale to new owners in December, after being stripped of their Europa League status this season for financial irregularities and docked a point in Serie A.
Cassano has been linked with returns to former stomping grounds Sampdoria, Inter and hometown club Bari, but a plethora of Premier League patrons ought to be preparing packages to secure his educated feet.
During his 13 full seasons so far in Serie A, which were only interrupted by a lacklustre spell at the Bernabeu between 2005-07, Cassano bagged over 100 goals in 357 appearances and breezed past the ten-strike mark in four campaigns.
However, only once has ‘Il Gioiello di Bari Vecchia’, or ‘The Jewel of Old Bari’, managed more than the 12 he fired home last term for Roberto Donadoni’s side, a tally that ensured Cassano made Cesare Prandelli’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Considering the 5ft 9in goal getter will come without a transfer fee, the likes of Newcastle, QPR and West Ham should be salivating at the thought of picking up Cassano on the cheap.
Papiss Cisse and Ayoze Perez account for 19 of the Geordies’ 26 top-flight goals this term, meaning temporary head honcho John Carver needs to diversify up front.
Where the second-bottom Super Hoops would be without striker Charlie Austin is easy to imagine, as the former Burnley man has kept his club out of the basement with 13 of their 23 Premier League efforts since promotion.
Harry Redknapp could clearly use someone of Cassano’s quality up front, as could his old Irons side, whose feted strike trio of Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll have only just reached double figures in all competitions between them this term.
Cassano is 6/5 to make a Premier League appearance during the rest of 2014/15.