One of the most underrated stars in the European game is SS Lazio forward Joaquin Correa.
The 26-year-old has shone in the Italian capital for the past three seasons, but his light has been cast into the shadows by the mammoth names of Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
And the time has come for Correa to make a decision, and that decision is to leave Lazio. The Argentine has made it clear he has no intention of playing for the Aquile next season, and is ready to throw his transfer fishing rod out and pray for a bite.
Although previously expected to join Paris Saint-Germain, that particular move has been placed on ice, and he is now chucking some bait out into the deep, rich seas of the English Premier League.
Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton are all considering a move for Correa, believing he could be the answer to any potential creative problems they may face. But what sort of player would they be getting in the Copa America winner?
For three teams all desperate to lift silverware for their suffering supporters, having someone in their ranks who boasts that experience is absolutely crucial.
Correa has done that in a team that possesses arguably less quality than at least two of the aforementioned trio of English clubs, having starred and scored in Lazio’s 2-0 victory over Atalanta in the 2019 Coppa Italia final.
He killed the game with a brilliant mazy run and cool finish, something he demonstrated in the Supercoppa final too, only for that particular gem to be ruled out.
And that’s without mentioning he was part of Argentina’s Copa America winning side this summer. The man is a lucky charm.
In terms of what he delivers on the pitch, Correa is extremely technically gifted. The forward plays just off the main striker, occupying the space both in front of and behind his partner, giving opposition defenders plenty to think about.
He is a real live wire, and relishes the opportunity to size up his marker and dart beyond him with a shimmy and a neat piece of footwork. His dribbling ability is startling, as Merih Demiral found out earlier this season.
One moment he was keeping a close eye on the swiftly advancing Correa, and the next he was gone. A step-over and a drop of the shoulder was enough to floor one of the most talked about defenders in Serie A. Scary stuff.
Correa has really hit his stride in Serie A over the past couple of seasons, and has begun to post decent figures for the Eagles. In fact, statistics show he’s only getting better.
He contributed to 16 goals in all competitions in the 2018/19 campaign, 15 the following year (although he featured 11 times fewer in his second campaign) and 17 last season.
He has learned how to impact games more effectively during his three years with Lazio, becoming a more well-rounded and clinical forward. The boy is a talent.
There’s a reason why you’ve heard much less about Correa than any of Lazio’s other attacking superstars. That’s because he provides the perfect foil for them, helping them to flourish to their maximum.
His trickery and ability to drive with the ball or dart through challenges means teams often double up on him when he drifts out wide, dragging players out of position or away from the real threat.
Immobile has profited countless times from his teammate’s mere presence and reputation for disrupting defences, and any club with a great striker (Harry Kane) would benefit greatly from his selfless attitude.
it’s tough to pigeonhole an exact role for Correa, and that’s because he performs seamlessly in a number of positions.
The Lazio star can play as a supporting striker, a deep-lying forward, a false nine or a winger on either flank, and that flexibility allows any coach to tinker with the formation in-game and give opponents something to think about.
With Correa in the side, you could easily start with him as a lone striker, as part of a front two or even a dynamic, attacking front three. He brings new dimensions to the team.