Friday September 15 2017
Berardi resists the big time

Domenico Berardi has had opportunities to join a bigger club, but is too afraid to leave his Sassuolo comfort zone, argues George Rinaldi.

When former Sassuolo Coach Eusebio Di Francesco outlined that Domenico Berardi “is ready for a big team,” it seemed inevitable the 23-year-old would part with the Neroverdi and move on to the big time.

Instead, it was the tactician who would switch to Roma in the summer of 2017 – leaving Domenico to fend for himself at the Mapei Stadium.

It had not been his best season, though. In fact, his five-goal haul is the lowest he has ever achieved not only in Serie A, but the second tier too.

He faced his first real challenge that year, picking up a knee injury when playing Pescara in August 2016 that would keep him out for 24 matches. Berardi had his luck avoiding any long-term issues prior to that knee problem, missing just eight games since 2012 due to injuries.

At Sassuolo however, Domenico has a home where no matter what the problem is, he has the unanimous support of every single player, Coach, physio and fan. He is comfy where he is; scoring goals and grabbing assists that provide entertainment.

On the other hand, maybe that is the issue? Comfort. Having played for just one club in his career, the forward could have lumbered himself with the ‘big fish small pond’ scenario.

There is no doubt of his talent, but does the Italian favour being the star man in a mid-table team than a bit-part player in a greater club?

At first glance, this might seem true. Juventus decided to backtrack on their attempt at signing the forward due to his indecisiveness regarding the transfer. The Bianconeri had originally co-owned him with Sassuolo, but gave up their 50 per cent back in 2015.

Since then it seemed inevitable Berardi would end up playing his professional football at the Juventus Stadium, but instead backed out of a proposed move a year ago amidst fears of reduced playing time, having seen Simone Zaza’s struggles. Following his change of mind, it has been Inter who have held the most interest, though Barcelona have also been scouting out a possible switch.

Yet, Berardi remains as the main man at Sassuolo. The big cheese. He had the chance of a big move and went against it, despite all his previous statistics proving he could make the step up. Before the 2016-17 season, he had 34 goals across 84 starts, averaging a goal every 0.4 games, which equates to nearly a goal every two matches.

His goal-scoring ability is enough for any team to want to take him, and perhaps back in 2015 he was right to stick with Sassuolo, so he could grow into the current player he is today.

But now, at 23, it’s time to make his move. Take a leaf out of Paulo Dybala’s book. The Argentinian was part of a brilliant duo with Franco Vazquez at Palermo and successfully took the leap to Juventus aged 21.

Berardi’s move could have run parallel with the aforementioned Dybala a year later, but instead he stuck to his roots.

The argument that Berardi’s temper put him off possible suitors is now a thing of the past. Nowadays it is more his own mentality of whether or not he can make the step up that is halting his progress as a footballer.

Berardi needs to break the mould and exit the comfort zone that is keeping him away from the big time.

Have your say...
Which is why we need coaches like Zeman who give the youth a chance
on the 19th September, 2017 at 10:51pm
Berardi is a mediocre talent...just like most Italian "talent" these days... not worth writing about
on the 19th September, 2017 at 12:02pm
@ Sam
you talk about a 'golden generation' back in the 90's and you are right.. it was compared to now but what's changed since then?
Well lets have a look.. in the 90's max 3 foreigners aloud in starting line-up and guess what? who made up the rest of the 1st team? You guessed it ITALIANS!!!
It ain't rocket science is it?
on the 17th September, 2017 at 2:11am
The issue with Berardi is his lack of mental toughness and comfort level at Sassuolo. If he wants he can leave to join a top team in ITALY or abroad, as the talent is there but sadly he seems lazy and lacks motivation.

Overall, Italy does not protect or nurture the youth properly. but in this instance, its simply the players willingness to stay. He's like Di Natale, willing to stay at a lower depth team as the big fish.

The decision rests with Berardi and his desire to start fresh elsewhere.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 11:11pm
I'm not saying that we don't produce talented players. I believe that many of our youngsters don't have the mental strength & hunger to realize their potential & produce on a regular basis. Coaches need guarantees. A few poor results & they're gone. They see these guys in practice every day. I'm certain that most of our coaches would pick our players if they followed the coaches instructions & excelled in training. So maybe those "average foreigners" are applying themselves better?
on the 16th September, 2017 at 7:58pm
So why is it that france, spain, germany, portugal, belgium, croatia, serbia etc. all producing young talent and italy are not?
It seems to me young Italian prospects hit 23 or so and move on to bigger clubs then hardly get any playing time which stalls their progress, they never get to realise their full potential.
Berardi didn't do very well last season but don't forget he was injured for half the season and never managed to hit form after that which is not uncommon after a long lay off.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 3:54pm
Berardi is the most naturally talented Italian player of his generation imo

The downplaying of his achievements because he spent half a season injured and turned down Juve a few times is no big surprise
on the 16th September, 2017 at 3:07pm
maybe Berardi felt a sense of loyalty to Sassuolo....after having helped lead them to European football, he sat out most of last season with injury. Perhaps he wanted to stay and continue to help the club he's basically grown up at.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 1:38pm
Still a very dangerous player. I think a move to a higher level team with a change of scenery would do him good and force him out of his comfort zone. He should have moved earlier e.g. Dybala.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 12:04pm
I said this about Bernardeschi and i'm saying it about berardi. They are not that talented compared to the talent of other countries. I said bernardeschi would just be a bench warmer at Juve. The so-called ''Golden Generation' of italian youth as this lot were called is anything but that. As im 40 years old, I saw the youth in the 90's in particular and it was light years ahead of this lot. Italian football is a long, long way away from being where it used to be.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 10:22am
Berardi has been in decline for the last two years. If he doesn't improve this season, it just might be that he was overhyped at the first place. He should've moved after Sassuolo breakout year in 2016. Though I hope he can replace Candreva next year if he rediscover his form.

Gagliardini got many minutes in Inter, he will improve again this year.
On the contrary I think Bernardeschi made a mistake in joining big club a year before world cup. Especially because Juve has too many options upfront
on the 16th September, 2017 at 10:21am
The Italian kids aren't good enough. France are exploding with talent. Spain are pretty self explanatory. Germany, solid pipeline of kids.

What have the Italian kids done? Haven't come close in a tournament. Regardless of what others say shouldn't be starting on the top 3 Italian clubs except for maybe Rugani. Belotti will leave Italy soon. It's funny listening to people in 2017 complain about the same nonsensical things that my dad did 20 years ago about how it used to be and what we're not.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 8:45am
@Save Italian youth, I used to think that, and it is a part of the problem, but I just don't think that some of these players are good enough. We get carried away after seeing a few flashes of brilliance them & then compare them to the greats. I never thought that I'd hear myself saying this but I think that boss has a point about the weak mentality of our players, their inability to show up in every game & take them by the scruff of the neck. It's very fits & starts, and passive.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 8:32am
Allegri has launched Dybala, continued to develop Pogba and started one Bentancur at Nou Camp which lead him to a senior call with Uruguay. Yes none are Italian. I think there's your answer. The Italian kids just aren't that good unless their last name is Belotti. As for Bernardeschi as a die hard Juve fan, if he's going to replace Dybala when he leaves we're stuffed. Plain and simple.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 8:16am
Big fish small pond. It's clear as day. Nowadays he's always injured. 23 year olds can play on the big clubs if they warrant it. Dybala anyone? Icardi. Belotti defined his legacy at 23. Let's not even mention Asensio or Mbappe.

Berardi can't even make the national team. He's become irrelevant. The next miccoli. Embarrassing.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 7:53am
Only side resisting were the clubs interested. Way too overpriced and considering how overrated he is, Sassuolo will regret not taking the money.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 3:37am
he will leave when he is ready, he is still only 23 do not agree with this article at all, maybe if he was 26 and had not made the move id get it.
He is propabaly waiting to see how edf gets on at Roma and if edf is still at roma next summer, then maybe then he will join edf at roma.
on the 16th September, 2017 at 12:57am
Not sure if you noticed but it's blindingly obvious that Serie A's biggest clubs are giving less and less opportunities to Italian youth. Players Berna, Gagliardini. Pellegrini, Rugani, Locatelli, the list goes on and on...are being shut out by their coaches and replaced with average foreigners it's a disgrace. Can't blame Berardi for wanting to stay where he is.. why make a move to Juve or Inter just to sit on the bench all year with Allegri or Spalletti?
on the 16th September, 2017 at 12:44am

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