It’s an oft-quoted question, but it’s not entirely correct.
The number of foreign players who have made it to Serie A, according to data compiled by Football Italian newspaper Milan, is almost twice as many as in the top flight.
In fact, the average number of players from outside Italy is actually less than one, according the report.
That’s because the number of international signings in Serie A is higher than the number from outside Europe, especially when the two leagues are split between the Champions League and the Coppa Italia.
But there are many factors that contribute to this discrepancy.
For starters, many teams that have been involved in a transfer spree, like Roma and Inter, are not very big, meaning that the money they are willing to spend has more to do with the desire to strengthen a squad than any particular player.
More importantly, many clubs are willing, despite the fact that the salaries of foreign coaches have gone up, to sign players who are more experienced.
Of course, that can be partly attributed to the desire for more competition in the league, which has meant fewer foreign signings.
And there is still a bit of room for improvement.
Milans data does not show how many foreigners have made their way to the lower divisions, but some of them are still being employed in the Italian top flight, especially the ones who have spent more time there.
As a result, it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of the actual number of foreigners playing in Serie B, the lower tier of Italian football.
Nevertheless, a quick look at the table above gives an indication of how many foreign players have been signed by Italian clubs.
At the bottom of the table, there are just nine foreign players: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Macheda (Sampdoria), Claudio Marchisio (Juve), Andrea Ranocchia (Sassuolo), Davide Santon (Siena), Carlos Tevez (Sevilla), and Paolo Maldini (Fiorentina).
Of those, three of them were in the lower leagues: Machedon, Tevez, and Tevez’s former Sampdoria teammate.
On the other hand, there were two Italian players who made it into Serie B: Gianluca Zambrotta and Roberto Pereyra.
Zambrotta joined Sampdione in 2010, a year after leaving Fiorentine.
Pereyras joined Fiorence in 2012, a few months after leaving Sassuolo.
It’s worth noting that the data only shows the number who have gone on to the Serie A. However, as Milanes reported, it does show that foreign players from Italy have made a significant contribution to the top tier.
If you’re interested in more analysis, you can check out our article on foreign players in Serie C.