IN many respects Emanuele Giaccherini could be forgiven if he wanted to leave Sunderland after just one year on Wearside.
A difficult start to life at the Stadium of Light led to him missing out on the World Cup in Brazil, the showpiece he had been working towards for the last few years.
Yet Giaccherini, who appeared at Euro 2012 for his country as well as in the Confederations Cup last year, has no desire to leave the Black Cats behind and is determined to prove he can shine in a red and white shirt on the Premier League stage.
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There were suggestions that Roma and Parma were interested in taking him back to Italy, while Turkish club Galatasaray were regularly mooted as a club wishing to give him a chance to recapture his finest form.
The 29-year-old, however, does not have any desire to leave.
“I am very happy to be here and I want to stay at Sunderland,” said Giaccherini, in a rare interview. “I want to do another season, better than last year. I hope to play much more and to score goals, create them, to show everyone what I can do for Sunderland.
“It will help that I have been here for a full summer.
I have one year more experience of the Premier League. It’s important for every game to improve and play better. I want to stay in the Premier League.
“It is the best in the world, so I want to prove I can play here and do well. The stadiums every week are always full. The people, the fans are very loud and there is a great atmosphere. There are a lot of champions who play in the Premier League.
The football is quick and less tactical. For me it is the best.”
What has made Giaccherini even happier to stay is that his family, his wife and two daughters, have settled in the North-East. It was a huge gamble for him on a personal level to leave Italy, where he played for Cesena, Forli, Bellaria Igea, Pavia and Juventus.
“I had always played in Italy, so after one year here I will be better because I wasn’t really used to that way of playing, here it’s a lot different,” said the £8m buy from Juventus. “It was a big switch for me to come to England.
“My wife adapted straightaway and my daughters go to nursery, so we are all happy. We enjoy our life here. That is important for me to know because I can just focus on my football.
What could help Giaccherini to shine is if he got to play in his preferred position. He has told Gustavo Poyet that he would prefer to play in the middle behind a striker, having spent the majority of last season as a wide player.
The time it took for him to adapt to the English culture and that he has not yet been given a run of games in his preferred position affected his form and, ultimately, cost him a World Cup spot.
Giaccherini celebrates scoring against Cardiff last season
“It was disappointing not to go to the World Cup, for me it was important to go to Brazil but the manager, Cesare Prandelli, chose other players,” said Giaccherini. “It was hard for me to accept because it was always my aim, but I will always be grateful to Prandelli because he gave me my chance. I played a lot under him.
“Now I want to do better than last season. I want more goals, assists, appearances.
I would like to play No 10 or in the middle of the pitch.
In some games for Juventus I was on the left, but mainly I played left-midfielder, not a winger. The manager chooses where I play, it’s up to him. If he asks me to play winger I will. But I prefer to play in the middle.”
And so Giaccherini waits.
He added: “We’ve been in Sunderland and Portugal for pre-season, so we all feel ready. I had a nice holiday in Italy, New York and Bermuda. I was happy to have had a break. Now all I think about is Sunderland.”