5 of the best Argentines to play in Serie A: Maradona, Batistuta and more

With Italy playing Argentina on Wednesday in the Finalissima, Giancarlo Rinaldi picks out five of the best players from the Copa America champions to appear in Serie A.

There have been many fine Argentinians to grace Italian football, forming a special bond with their clubs and their adopted country. Rugged uncompromising defenders, mercurial midfielders and hugely prolific scorers – they have given Serie A a bit of everything. They have made their mark in droves down the years but few have been more memorable than this famous five.

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Diego Maradona (Napoli)

The Golden Boy must always stand – not literally perhaps – head and shoulders above his countrymen in terms of what he brought to Italy’s top division. Two Scudetti in a city which had never won the title before would have been plenty but the style, flair and passion he put into his time in Naples was second to none.

Maradona gave the Partenopei a team which was capable of jousting with the northern giants and, more often than not, knocking them off their pedestal. There were few finer sights in football than him running at terrified defences and even his pre-match warm-up was often unmissable. His death in 2020 was mourned as much by Napoli fans as it was in his homeland.

Omar Sivori (Juventus/Napoli)

Long before Diego, the original Argentinian enfant terrible was tearing it up in Serie A for more than a decade in the late 1950s and 1960s. One of the most technically gifted players of his age, El Cabezon (Big Head) was part of an influx of South American stars to Serie A in 1957 and one of its most successful imports.

Alongside Wales’ Gentle Giant John Charles he formed a formidable partnership at the Bianconeri winning a string of Scudetti and Italian cups. He finished his career with Napoli and also played for both the land of his birth and his adopted country with a mix of brilliance and volatility that anyone who saw him play would never forget.

Javier Zanetti (Inter)

The full-back and defensive midfielder would go straight into any all-time Hall of Fame for the Nerazzurri of players from any nation. Over the best part of two decades he was as dependable, loyal and impressive a performer as any coach could hope to have in his side.

The man they dubbed El Tractor thanks to his incredible engine stayed with the Milanese giants through many lean years initially before sweeping up pretty much every honour in the game in the later stages of his career. There was no discernible dip in his quality despite his advancing years and it is no surprise that he is now part of the backroom staff at the club he served so enormously well.

Gabriel Batistuta (Fiorentina/Roma/Inter)

Although he played for three Serie A sides, Batigol’s name will forever be associated with the purple colours of Tuscany’s finest. Signed as a hot prospect after impressing in the Copa America, he never looked back and stayed loyal to his new employers even when they tumbled into Serie B. At his peak, he was one of the most deadly goalscorers in the world with a mixture of power, pace and unerring accuracy that set all kinds of records for finding the net.

It brought him few trophies in his time in Florence but a late career switch to Roma got Batistuta the Scudetto his talents deserved. A true warrior of the football field, no defender ever relished a duel with a player of such gladiatorial magnificence.

Hernan Crespo (Parma, Lazio, Inter, Milan, Genoa)

It is easy to forget now but late 1990s Parma assembled a side which was the envy of the world and, more often than not, this man was leading their line. Strong in the air, but gifted on the ground, he made the boys from the Ennio Tardini a team to be feared both in Italy and further afield. It also earned him a big money move to Lazio where he would become Serie A’s top scorer at a time when some of the world’s best were plying their trade in Italian football.

Crespo flirted with the Premier League at Chelsea but returned for an enjoyable swansong on both sides of Milan and, in his twilight years, spells with Genoa and back at Parma. Not always an eye-catcher he was, nonetheless, a man whose name meant goals for the best part of a decade-and-a-half.

Watch Italy vs. Argentina in the Finalissima in the UK and Ireland exclusively on Premier Sports. Click here to sign-up for only £9.99 a month and get more than 50 matches in June.

2 Comments on “5 of the best Argentines to play in Serie A: Maradona, Batistuta and more”

  1. Is that Luciano Moggi in the Maradona photo, the one standing to the right of the balloons??? He was Napoli DS 87-91…

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