Serie A titans Inter Milan must win the race to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi.
The Argentine, whose contract expires in 2016, is also being chased by Premier League duo Liverpool and Tottenham as both sides look to bolster their squads after difficult starts to the season.
But it is Roberto Mancini’s men whose need is greatest and moving for one of the quickest forwards in world football would be a huge statement of intent as they look to secure Champions League football at the San Siro next season.
Since signing on from Napoli in the summer of 2012, he has guided the French side to two consecutive league titles under the stewardship of both Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.
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Despite the big-name arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his former Napoli teammate Edinson Cavani he has remained a crucial clog of the machine and has featured in seven games in all competitions so far.
The 29-year-old has also been a regular fixture for the Argentinean national team, and was part of the side that made the World Cup final in Brazil this summer only to be narrowly beaten by eventual champions Germany at the Maracana.
He was expected to depart after the tournament due to PSG’s interest in Angel Di Maria, but the wingers decision to swap Real Madrid for Manchester United ultimately saw his compatriot stay in the French capital for the time being.
Premier League interest
Liverpool and Tottenham are both keen after a difficult start to the season has left both sides with an uphill battle to qualify for Europe’s top-tier competition.
Life after the exit of controversial maverick Luis Suarez was always going to be tough, but Brendan Rodgers’ men have slumped to new lows and were comfortably beaten by Neil Warnock’s struggling Crystal Palace side at the weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham have been fortunate that a flurry of late goals have seen their league position rise but, with current performances said to be frustrating notoriously-tough chairman Daniel Levy, the Argentine may swoop for Lavezzi in order to save his time at the club.
Yet much may hinge on how the sides fare and, if both fail to improve, PSG’s starlet could instead opt for a return to Serie A with one of Italy’s biggest clubs.
Mancini is keen on snaring Lavezzi to ease the burden on current goalscoring machine Mauro Icardi.
The youngster has been a shining light in an otherwise forgettable season and has the potential to be one of the best strikers in the world.
Dani Osvaldo’s return to his homeland has yet to yield much reward and the Italian striker may have to head back to parent club Southampton if he does not find the back of the net with increasing regularity anytime soon.
Lavezzi would be a symbol of hope and excitement that would get the Inter fans buzzing again. Mancini’s time in the job may yet depend on how many marquee, impact signings he is able to make.
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