With Serie A looking to the future and investing in youth this season, Dave Taylor highlights 10 youngsters who have that special something.
Despite losing icons like Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Del Piero, Serie A still has ‘predestinati’ likeMattia Destro, Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile, youngsters with the potential to take their places. At the moment comparing them is a bit like going to see a tribute band like the Strolling Bones and expecting to see rock idols. Instead you know they are not the real thing, they know they are not the real thing but most importantly you still had a great night out and it only cost you a tenner. Everybody knows that the likes of Insigne and Destro are almost idols themselves, so let’s look at some other wannabes who have that X Factor to become stars of the future.
Luca Marrone (Juventus 28/3/1990)
The Italian U21 star shone in pre-season for Juventus and, although a central midfielder, his versatility and various injuries saw him dropped into defence in the opening day win over Parma. As in previous games he maintained his concentration throughout and made all the right moves, coolly operating 10 metres behind Andrea Pirlo while also acting as a sweeper. He has played at every level for Juve’s youth sides and was a crucial part of the Primavera side that won two Viareggio Carnival Cups.
Manolo Gabbiadini (Juventus-Bologna 26/11/1991)
Although a top graduate of the renowned Atalanta nursery, Manolo struggled to break into the first team with German Denis as first choice. However, he did star for the Azzurrini, scoring nine goals in 13 games. Completely at home with the ball, he has an exciting ability to bypass opposition defenders and devastate with a thunderous left foot. Sent on loan to Bologna from Juve, he will be hoping to be the one to fill the hole left by the departed Marco Di Vaio, albeit with competition from Alberto Gilardino.
Luis Muriel (Udinese 18/04/1991)
One of the stars of relegated Lecce last season, thepromising Colombian international forwardscoredseven goals in 25 games, including two outstanding strikes in the 4-2 defeat of Roma. At just 20 years of age he returns to his mother club, where his pace and clever footwork should see him flourish even further under Francesco Guidolin.
Nicola Leali (Juventus-Virtus Lanciano 17/02/1993)
A teenager with such fabulous potential that at 16 he became the regular ‘keeper for Brescia’s Primavera side. Likened to Gianluigi Buffon, he commands his area, is amazingly mature for one so young and as such will not be unnerved by the comparisons. His shot-stopping skills, positioning and lightning reflexes made former Juventus Coach Gigi Maifredi remark, that the youngster will make “Italian football history.”
Mattia De Sciglio (Milan 17/06/1990)
Mattia is still learning his trade but made his Serie A debut last season and never let anyone down. Has been given the number two shirt and in the mould of Marcos Cafu and Mauro Tassotti is an explosive powerful right back, who can also play on the left. A regular with the Italian U19 side, he was also called up as an unused substitute in the recent Azzurri-England game.
Richmond Boakye (Juventus-Sassuolo 28/01/1993)
After joining Genoa in 2009, at just 17 he made an historic start to his career becoming the first Ghanaian to score on his debut. Last season he really hit his stride scoring 12 in 34 games on loan at Serie B side Sassuolo and helped them into the promotion play-offs. Obviously his goal-scoring feats did not go noticed and Juventus acquired him on a co-ownership deal. After playing in pre-season he has returned to Sassuolo on loan.
Diego Fabbrini (Udinese 31/07/1990)
‘Fabbri’ made his name in a break out season with Empoli before moving to Udinese last summer. Yet although it took him some time to settle, towards the end of last season he was unmarkable and one of the main reasons Udinese finished in the top three. With the balance and flair to take him past players, he has also caught the eye of Azzurri Coach Cesare Prandelli with a debut cap against England.
Paul Pogba (Juventus 15/03/1993)
The former Manchester United youngster is physically strong and can operate as a defensive or an attacking midfielder. A French U21 star, he is capable of tremendous free kicks and coupled with his inherent ability to pick out teammates with accurate passes is an outstanding prospect. In short he is the perfect example of the side that Antonio Conte wants to build at Juve: young and innovative.
Federico Viviani (Roma-Padova 24/03/1993)
The young central midfielder was one of the stars of Roma’s Scudetto winning Primavera side and possesses a fine footballing brain with a vision and pace to match. One of his specialties is to break down the opposition attack and get his own side back onto the offensive. Seen as one of the players that Roma will build their future around, he has been loaned to Padova to gain experience, as Daniele De Rossi stands in his way in the first team for now.
Alberto Masi (Juventus 2/09/1992)
The elegant central defender impressed with Pro Vercelli in the Lega Pro first division and was a leading light in their promotion into Serie B last season. A natural footballer he is most comfortable on the left side of a flat back four and is more suited to a cerebral game than the outright physical, not that he shirks a tackle when it is needed.