We profile Liverpool transfer target Piotr Zielinski
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 14/06/16 8:04am
After Piotr Zielinski attracts a £9.5m bid from Liverpool, we profile the Poland midfielder who has been showing promise in Serie A.
The 22-year-old had seemed set to complete a switch from Udinese to Napoli, but Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis told Corriere dello Sport: "Instead it now seems as if the player is doing everything possible to resist the move and not come here. He wants Liverpool."
Sky sources understand the Reds have made a £9.5m bid for the player. But who exactly is Zielinski? We take a closer look...
Name: Piotr Sebastian Zielinski
Place of birth: Zabkowice Slaskie, Poland
Position: Central midfield
Zielinski left Zaglebie Lubin in his homeland for Udinese in 2011 after the Serie A side had seen him play for Poland U17s.
After a successful trial, Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin spent 100,000 euros (£79,750) on the midfielder, who was 17 at the time.
It was not long before Zielinski was promoted to the first team, with the Pole coming on for Antonio Di Natale to make his Serie A debut in November 2012.
He went on to contribute two assists in nine league games that season, but he made only 10 league appearances the following campaign as Udinese struggled for form.
A loan to Empoli in 2014/15 resulted in three assists in his 28 top-flight matches and the loan was extended for a further season.
The 22-year-old has started to add goals to his repertoire, with five strikes - plus four assists - in 35 Serie A games in 2015/16.
I work hard in Empoli so that in June I may have a chance for such a big transfer.
Zielinski has primarily been used as a central midfielder during his four years in Italy, often in an attacking role alongside Riccardo Saponara at Empoli.
However, the technically accomplished Poland international can play out wide on the wings as well, or in the hole behind a lone frontman, such as Empoli's Massimo Maccarone.
Piotr Zielinski stats 2015/16
Serie A games: 35
Serie A goals: 5
Serie A assists: 4
Zielinski's accurate distribution is one of his main strengths and this season he has achieved a pass completion rate of 82.5 per cent and four assists in Serie A, according to whoscored.com.
With an excellent work-rate that allows him to press opponents and impressive dribbling abilities - he has attempted on average 2.5 dribbles per game in the league this season - Zielinski looks ideally suited to the style of play Jurgen Klopp employs at Liverpool.
Where would Zielinski fit in at Liverpool?
If Zielinski does move to Anfield this summer, then it could be in place of midfielder Joe Allen, who recently revealed his future at Liverpool beyond this season is in doubt.
Klopp did sign another central midfielder, Marko Grujic, in the January transfer window, with the young Serb loaned straight back to parent club Red Star Belgrade until the summer.
Much like Grujic, though, Zielinski is most probably being viewed as a player for the future, especially as Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho is already fully established as the club's main attacking threat from midfield.
Zielinski is currently in France with Poland, having won a place in his country's tournament squad. He was an unused substitute in their opener against Northern Ireland.
Did you know?
Zielinski has represented Poland at every age group from U15s upwards, while he has been capped 15 times by the senior side since making his full international debut in 2013, scoring three times in the process.
What he said?
"I work hard in Empoli so that in June I may have a chance for such a big transfer," he told Polish media outlet Futbolfejs.
"[Playing with Coutinho?] Of course. I think we could make a good pair. Time will tell what is going to happen."
What they said?
"Zielinski is on the right way to become a great player. He's good in training, a serious guy. He will have a top level career for sure," said Empoli boss Marco Giampaolo after a 2-2 draw with AC Milan in January.