There are echoes of Marco Verratti about the news Pietro Pellegri is heading to Monaco. While at the time of his move to Paris Saint-Germain, Verratti had never even played in Serie A, Genoa striker Pellegri already has three top flight goals in eight games under his belt, despite not turning 17 until March.
Juventus had entered into advanced negotiations after Milan and Inter interest a few months back, but ultimately Pellegri made the right decision.
There is no better club in world football for developing youth than Monaco, where the likes of Kylian Mbappé have been allowed to thrive and move on to bigger things. There will be relatively little pressure on Pellegri in the Principality, he’ll have the option of Champions League football and isn’t massively far away from his hometown of Genoa.
If Pellegri had gone to Juventus, he would’ve been placed in the Primavera youth team with the other teenagers, then no doubt loaned to a Serie B outfit or a side struggling against relegation. He’d get frustrated at going backwards in his career and before the age of 20 would be seeking a new challenge anyway. What’s the point?
Milan and Inter were no better, as the Rossoneri can’t even find room for €40m investment Andre Silva, let alone a 16-year-old, and the club is in a constant state of turmoil. The Nerazzurri have an excellent youth academy that churns out talents, none of which ever seem to make it into the senior squad.
Pellegri has already made a name for himself. He made his debut at the age of 15 years and 280 days, matching Amadeo Amadei’s all-time Serie A record, and scored his first goal on ‘Totti Day’ when almost ruining the captain’s Roma swansong by giving Genoa a shock early lead at the Olimpico in May 2017.
First under Ivan Juric, followed by Davide Ballardini, the 6ft 4in baby-faced Italian striker started to get a few more looks early on this season.
Impressively, the coveted centre-forward bagged a brace against Lazio back in September, demonstrating uncanny strength for a teenager his age and an unrelenting hunger to find the back of the net. At this point, although he wasn’t exactly a staple in the Rossoblu starting line-up, Pellegri showed tremendous growth, scoring two goals in six matches in just shy of 300 minutes of football.
Reports around Italy and France confirm Pellegri has chosen last season’s Champions League semi-finalists over the Italian club in a record-setting €25m move to the Stade Louis II. Under this pending switch, the wonder-kid is expected to earn €1m per year in wages. But certainly, there is more to Pellegri’s decision than meets the eye - and it’s likely not down to dollars and cents.
Juventus are financially independent, meaning they have the funds to pull off this move and could have likely matched what Monaco offered. However, the French side’s interest was overtly expressed not only in the complete economic package they submitted, but perhaps more importantly, the guarantees handed to him from a sporting sense with this impending move.
Monaco are constantly being raided of their top talent, and it’s because they are arguably unrivalled when it comes to nurturing young players and selling for a mass profit. Owner Dmitry Rybolovlev and manager Leonardo Jardim have built something special together at Monaco and understand how to win on the transfer front. This investment in Pellegri aligns with their club philosophy. By offering a high wage, better opportunity for minutes in a great environment for youth, and the guarantee of not being bounced around from club to club, it became an ideal fit.
Furthermore, at the tender age of 16, Pellegri can parlay this spell down the line into a return to Italy if he so wishes, or perhaps outside his home country - assuming he kicks on.
Some will say €25m is a risk for the Stade Louis II outfit, but their track record with these moves reaped tremendous rewards. Monaco, a hotbed for moulding youth and selling at a later date for an astronomical profit, win the sweepstakes for Pellegri, who also comes out with plenty of guarantees and a newly created limelight around his name in Europe.