Serie A has always been a safe haven for Argentine footballers. Carlo Garganese looks at those plying their trade in Serie A currently…Leonardo Talamonti (Atalanta), defender, 26 – first arrived in Italy in 2004 when he joined Lazio from Rosario Central. However he returned back to his homeland with River Plate a year later. The stopper has spent the last two seasons on loan at Atalanta, but he made just nine Serie A appearances last term.
Fernando Tissone (Atalanta), midfielder, 21 – talented young midfielder, who was picked up by Udinese’s renowned scouting network while playing for Lanus in 2005. Despite showing promise he joined Atalanta a year later. Last season he had a fine campaign, playing 35 times in Serie A, scoring three goals.
Maximiliano Pellegrino (Atalanta), defender, 28 - the younger brother of former Valencia hero Mauricio had played his entire career at Velez Sarsfield before joining Atalanta last summer. The giant centre back had a sound debut campaign, making 26 league outings.
Joaquin Larrivey (Cagliari), striker, 23 – came to Sardinia last summer with a big reputation from Huracan, and was labelled by some as the ‘new Gabriel Batistuta’. However things did not go according to plan for Larrivey, and he scored just one goal all season.
Albano Bizzarri (Catania), goalkeeper, 30 – had spent most of his career in Spain after originally leaving Racing Club for Real Madrid in 1999, also playing for Real Valladolid and Gimnastic. Arrived on Italian shores with Catania last year, but mainly played second fiddle to number one Ciro Polito.
Matias Silvestre (Catania), defender, 23 – grew up in the Boca Juniors youth team, and graduated into the seniors, winning a host of medals, including the Copa Libertadores. He arrived on loan at Catania in January, helping them avoid relegation, and could now make the move permanent.
Mariano Izco (Catania), midfielder, 25 – skilful midfielder who joined Catania from Tigre in 2006. Featured heavily last season, playing 32 times, and is perhaps best remembered for performing two nutmegs in succession during a match against Juventus.
Pablo Alvarez (Catania), defender, 24 - yet another Argentine plying his trade at the Stadio Massimino. Like Silvestre, also arrived in January of this year, from Estudiantes, but only played six times before the end of the campaign.
Pablo Ledesma (Catania), midfielder, 24 – Catania’s big summer signing so far. A former River Plate youth team graduate, Ledesma has been a crucial player at Boca since joining them from Talleres in 2003. He helped them win the Copa Libertadores, four Argentine titles and an Intercontinental Cup.
Mario Santana (Fiorentina), winger, 26 – despite his relatively young age, Santana is something of a Serie A veteran now, having appeared for Venezia, Palermo and Chievo Verona since arriving from San Lorenzo in 2002. A skilful and tricky winger, the Argentine international has been at Fiorentina since 2006.
Pablo Osvaldo (Fiorentina), striker, 22 – a star of the Italy Under-21s, Osvaldo is one of the peninsula’s most promising young forwards. Osvaldo, a dual Argentine and Italian citizen, was born in Buenos Aires and made his name at Huracan before being snapped up by Atalanta in 2006. He then moved on to Lecce, before the Viola came calling last summer. Scored five Serie A goals in his debut campaign, including the crucial winner against Torino on the last day that took the Tuscans into the Champions League.
Luciano Figueroa (Genoa), striker, 27 – best known for his spell at Villarreal between 2004 and 2006, Figueroa has had something of an injury nightmare in recent years. An intelligent striker, he joined Genoa in 2006, and showed signs of working his way back to his best form last season. He has scored nine goals in just 15 games for his country.
Javier Zanetti (Inter), defender/midfielder, 34 – utility man who has become a legend at Inter since joining from Banfield in 1995. Argentina’s most capped player, Il Trattore has won three consecutive Scudetti with the Nerazzurri and will undoubtedly go down as one of the club’s all time greats.
Julio Cruz (Inter), striker, 34 – one of the most under-rated strikers in Serie A during his eight years in the peninsula. Three fine years at Bologna saw him join Inter in 2003, and despite often being used as a substitute he has never disappointed, with an almost one-in-two scoring record.
Nicolas Burdisso (Inter), defender, 27 – joined Inter in 2004 from Boca Juniors, and has won many trophies despite being something of a critic-splitter. Mainly a backup, his versatility along the backline has been useful, even if he had a poor season last campaign.
Hernan Crespo (Inter), striker, 33 – absolutely prolific striker, who is approaching the end of a superb career. Crespo has excelled at a whole host of Serie A clubs since joining Parma from River Plate in 1996, scoring goals galore for the Gialloblu, Lazio, Inter, Milan, and then Inter again. Played in three World Cups for his country, and has scored 36 goals in just 65 international games.
Esteban Cambiasso (Inter), midfielder, 27 – one of the best holding midfielders in the world, Cambiasso has been a revelation since his free transfer move from Real Madrid in 2004. Some consider the bald-headed schemer as Massimo Moratti’s best-ever signing.
Walter Samuel (Inter), defender, 30 – nicknamed ‘The Wall’, Samuel is an old-school defender who takes no prisoners. Had four superb years at Roma, helping them to the Scudetto in 2001, before returning to Serie A with Inter in 2005 after an unhappy year at Real Madrid. Has been troubled with injuries at San Siro.
Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), winger, 31 – plays his international football for Italy, but of course was Argentine-born. Has only ever played one season in his homeland, with Banfield in 1997/98. Joined Verona in 2000, and then Juventus two years later, picking up a host of honours. Also won the World Cup with the Azzurri in 2006.
Sergio Almiron (Juventus), midfielder, 27 - son of the 1986 World Cup winner by the same name, Almiron Jr spent his formative years at Newells Old Boys before moving to Udinese in 2001. Spells at Verona and Empoli followed, and he impressed so much at the latter that Juve took the chance to sign him last summer. Despite being tagged the 'new Sebastian Veron', Almiron struggled badly, and was shipped off on loan in January to Monaco. Is likely to be sold permanently this summer to a new club.
David Trezeguet (Juventus), striker, 30 - one of the most prolific strikers ever to have played in Italy since arriving from Monaco in 2000, with over 150 goals at a rate of just under 0.60. Trezeguet may play his international football for France, but his father is from Argentina. David's first club in fact was Platense, who are based in Greater Buenos Aires.
Cristian Ledesma (Lazio), midfielder, 25 – widely recognised as one of Lazio’s best players, Ledesma grew up in the Boca Juniors youth team before being picked up as a teenager by Lecce in 2001. He moved to Lazio in 2006 and had a brilliant first season, helping them into the Champions League. Not so impressive last campaign.
Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio), goalkeeper, 24 – one of South America’s most highly rated young goalkeepers, Carrizo was due to sign for Lazio from River Plate last summer before paperwork problems. He will instead make the move in time for the 2008/09 season.
Leandro Grimi (Milan), defender, 23 – has found little space at Milan since joining in 2007 from Racing Club, first being loaned out to Siena, and then to Sporting Lisbon in January this year. Latest rumours suggest that this deal could become permanent.
Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli), striker, 23 – a revelation in his first season at the club, winning comparisons to the club’s greatest ever player, Diego Maradona. Lavezzi is an explosive forward with an extremely bright future. Like Maradona, the former San Lorenzo man has a hot streak after being involved in a furious, and somewhat hilarious, road rage incident in Naples last year.
German Denis (Napoli), striker, 27 – Denis will be Lavezzi’s partner up-front after just joining from Independiente, where he was prolific. Nicknamed ‘The Tank’, Denis has had an unsuccessful spell in Italy before with Cesena in 2002/03 where he scored just three goals. However he is tipped to do much better this time around.
Nicholas Navarro (Napoli), goalkeeper, 23 – Navarro joined Napoli from Argentinos Juniors last season, having won the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup with his country. Made three Serie A starts last term.
Hernan Paolo Dellafiore (Palermo), defender, 23 – born in Buenos Aires, but moved to Italy as a youngster. Grew up in the Inter youth academy before being sold to Palermo in 2006. Spent last season on loan at Torino. Has chosen to play his international football for Italy, and is a current member of the Pierluigi Casiraghi’s Under-21s.
Hugo Campagnaro (Sampdoria), defender, 28 – had an excellent first season for Sampdoria, helping them qualify for the UEFA Cup. His displays have led to interest from Juventus, however he is likely to stay at the Stadio Ferraris. Prior to joining Samp, he spent five years at Piacenza, who picked him up from Buenos Aires-outfit Moron in 2002.