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Will Deadline Day Signings Be Key for Palace, Hull, Southampton and Leicester? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hull City appear to have made an eye-catching acquisition in signing Andrea Ranocchia on loan from Internazionale. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Inter via Getty Images

Luka Milivojevic, Crystal Palace

The 25-year-old Serb has joined Palace from Olympiakos for a fee in the region of £12m and has been signed primarily to add extra steel and security in front of Sam Allardyce’s back four, although six goals in 17 appearances for the Greek champions this season is a more than decent return for a defensive midfielder. Milivojevic was highly regarded as a youngster in his own country, where Robert Prosinecki was an early admirer and instrumental in securing his services for Red Star Belgrade. From there the player went to Greece via a season in Belgium with Anderlecht and when Vítor Pereira moved from Olympiakos to manage Fenerbahce in 2015 he tried to take Milivojevic with him. Olympiakos decided their captain was too valuable a part of their title-winning side to allow to leave cheaply and Palace appear to have met an asking price that deterred a few others. It is not usually too difficult to work out what Allardyce wants in a defender but in addition to strength and discipline Palace will be hoping Milivojevic can bring organisational qualities and a degree of leadership to their defensive unit. Olympiakos feel they have lost their best player.

Kamil Grosicki, Hull City

The Polish winger’s club career has been a slow burner – he has reached the Premier League at the age of 28 after a decade spent in the relative backwaters of Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and France – though there is no doubt Hull have signed a fully fledged international. After making his debut for Poland in 2008 Grosicki is now just short of a half century of caps, and played in all five games at Euro 16 for the side knocked out by Portugal at the quarter-final stage. Exceptionally quick, in Poland he is rated alongside Jakub Blaszczykowski as the national side’s main attacking threat after Robert Lewandowski, though his willingness to track back has been criticised and at club level so has his temperament.

Whether Grosicki can be an adequate replacement for Robert Snodgrass is anyone’s guess. A strong and direct runner, he is not quite as versatile a player and may not weigh in with as many goals, although as Hull have also signed Lazar Markovic on loan it is possible Grosicki will be asked to play more of a central role. Everton, who like to think they know a good winger when they see one, have been linked with the player in the past but Burnley almost brought him to England first. The player had passed a medical and agreed terms at Turf Moor last season before Rennes unexpectedly upped their £7m price and the deal fell through.

Manolo Gabbiadini, Southampton

Southampton have done more than just obtained cover for the injured Charlie Austin with the acquisition of Gabbiadini from Napoli. With the striker costing £14m, rising to a possible £17m over the course of a four-and-a-half-year deal, Claude Puel has signed a player for the foreseeable future. That is the theory, anyway. There must have been a reason why the 25-year-old lost his place at Napoli, even if 16 goals in 56 appearances represents a reasonable return. Signed by Rafa Benítez shortly before the manager left for Real Madrid, Gabbiadini never really found favour with Maurizio Sarri and could not hold down a regular striking place even after the departure of Gonzalo Higuaín.

There is no reason why a player capped six times by Italy should not score goals on the south coast, although with Jay Rodriguez, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond still at the club (at least one was expected to go out on loan or be sold) and Austin back before the end of the season it remains to be seen how Puel will deploy his striking options. The manager is expected to ease the player in, as he was being used mainly as an impact substitute at Napoli and has played a full 90 minutes only once this season. Gabbiadini has revealed conversations with Graziano Pellè helped persuade him to try his luck with Southampton. For two seasons Pellè led the Southampton line as stylishly as only a powerfully built Italian can but he is now in China. Southampton must hope that is not a portent.

Molla Wagué, Leicester City

Leicester’s new centre-back acquisition does not appear to have much immediate prospect of displacing Wes Morgan or Robert Huth, which is just as well because there is no need to. The France-born Mali international has been signed primarily as cover and would probably not be ready for the step up in any case, having played only five times for Udinese in Serie A this season. Wagué is fresh from the Africa Cup of Nations, where Mali were eliminated at the group stage, although his club career has never really taken off since leaving Caen, where he played alongside N’Golo Kanté, for Granada in 2014. He has still to make a single appearance for Granada, who sent him out on loan to Udinese, for whom he has played 37 times in three years. Although Leicester’s league position is worsening by the week they are probably not that desperate yet. Claudio Ranieri feels he needs numbers to cover emergencies and give his first-choice defenders a rest, yet his regular backline is vastly experienced, and experience, especially of the Premier League, is precisely what Wagué lacks. The 25-year-old defender may be introduced at some point on Sunday but is unlikely to make his first start against Manchester United.

Andrea Ranocchia, Hull City

Not many players come to the KCom Stadium on loan from Internazionale, and on the face of it Hull have made an eye-catching acquisition in an Italian defender with 21 caps. Yet though Ranocchia briefly captained Inter following the retirement of Javier Zanetti he subsequently lost his place as well as the armband when Roberto Mancini returned as manager and has spent the past year on loan at Genoa and Sampdoria.

The good news for Hull is that Ranocchia is big, strong and powerful in the air. The slightly less good news is that, at 28, he seems to be slowing up and becoming a little error-prone. Some of his blunders at Inter were magnified via social media and the defender ended up being ridiculed by his own fans, though Antonio Conte remains an admirer and kept faith with the player when in charge of the national team. Looking on the bright side, Ranocchia could bring presence and leadership to a Hull defence that already seems to have tightened under Marco Silva. He made his debut as a second-half substitute in the goalless draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday and will relish the responsibility of trying to keep Hull up, although the Tigers need to score more goals themselves if they are to escape from an unpromising position.

(The Guardian)