Graziano Pelle: Player Profile

Pelle Replicating His Eredivisie Form In The Premier League

Personal information 
Full name: Graziano Pelle
Date of birth: 15 July 1985
Age: 29
Place of birth: San Cesario di Lecce, Italy
Height: 1.94 m (6 ft 4 in)
Playing position: Striker

Club information 
Current team:

Youth career 2001–2004: Lecce

Senior career 2004–2007: Lecce 13 Appearances, 0 goals 
2005 → Catania (loan) 15 Appearances, 0 goals 
2006 → Crotone (loan) 17 Appearances, 6 goals
2006–2007 → Cesena (loan) 40 Appearances, 11 goals 
2007–2011: AZ 91 Appearances, 16 goals
2011–2013: Parma 12 Appearances, 1 goal
2012 → Sampdoria (loan) 12 Appearances, 4 goals 
2012–2013 → Feyenoord (loan) 33 Appearances, 29 goals
2013–2014: Feyenoord 33 Appearances, 26 goals
2014– Southampton 14 Appearances, 9 goals

National team 2004–2005: Italy U20 10 Appearances, 7 goals
2005–2007: Italy U21 11 Appearances, 0 goals
2008: Italy Olympic 5 Appearances, 0 goals 
2014– Italy 4 Appearances, 1 goal

Graziano Pelle has become the latest striker to tread the dangerous, highly scrutinised path from Eredivisie to the Premier League, and Southampton fans were understandably wary of what £9 million was going to bring them. Pelle has already scored an impressive nine goals in his first 14 appearances for the Saints, driving his team to second spot in the EPL behind Chelsea and the big man doesn’t look like slowing down.

With Pelle, Saints hope they've found the exception to the rule. Ronald Koeman knows his game inside-out and he knows a player or two. It'd be a massive surprise if he got his wires crossed on a player he'd personally presided over scoring 50-plus goals in two seasons. Pelle is a polished target man, playing in his prime, and he's not your typical fox-in-the-box poacher. Pelle heads well, finishes instinctively, drags markers around superbly and is capable of the odd flick or trick to spring a runner into space. With Dusan Tadic and Morgan Schneiderlin providing ammunition, it's an ideal goalscoring trio. Koeman will mould his Saints team around Pelle and make allowances for him in any system or shape he plays. He'll be involved in everything—a true focal point—and, at the very worst, enable others around him to shine. The nomadic Italian, now 29 years of age, is in his prime yet still hungry to improve. Pelle is an ideal replacement for Rickie Lambert and outperformed the Englishman in several key areas last season. The Italian striker was the star at Feyenoord for the last two years. With his power, strength, finishing ability and control, he makes the perfect fit for Southampton. With the amount of quality around him and providing great service, he could replicate the partnership he had in Rotterdam with Jean-Paul Boetius, Ruben Schaken, Lex Immers and Tonny Vilhena which allowed him to net 55 goals in 66 games across two season in the iconic red and white.

Like Lambert, Pelle benefits a great deal from acting as the pinnacle of a team’s attack. He can act as a target man, putting his strength and aerial ability to use, or as the fulcrum in a side which, like Feyenoord and Southampton, will play more passing-based, technical football. That he is so highly regarded and respected in the Netherlands may come as a surprise to any who had witnessed him before his time at Feyenoord. The 2013-14 season for Feyenoord was a remarkable one for the Lecce-born player. He was made captain of the team for a large part of the season and showed to be an inspiring leader through his determination and commitment. However, with Feyenoord hot on the heels of Ajax at the top of the table, Pelle grew tense and frustrated as his wonderful work up front was being rendered irrelevant by defensive weaknesses. Now, after two years of reinventing himself in Rotterdam, he has moved on to a greater challenge; the English Premier League. It’s always difficult to judge how strikers will get on in different leagues after succeeding in the Eredivisie, but Pelle seems to be one who can go on to succeed if he carries on playing the way he has been. His first touch and all round game have improved in his time at Feyenoord; furthermore he is much more confident and sure of his talent.

Although it is worth remembering that the Eredivisie is not the Premier League in terms of standards, the stats certainly show that Koeman got an incredible response out of the striker during their time together at Feyenoord and there is little reason not to expect Koeman to once again get the best out of the big goal machine.