Italy Coach Roberto Mancini sees Nicolò Zaniolo as a “Paul Pogba style box-to-box midfielder,” while Nicolò Barella is reminiscent of Marco Tardelli.
The young pair are going to be central to the Azzurri project going towards Euro 2020, but the CT has big plans for the Roma teenager.
“Zaniolo plays as a trequartista at the moment for Roma, but considering his athleticism and technique, I see him as a box-to-box midfielder in the style of Pogba,” Mancini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
There is also promise in the form of 21-year-old Cagliari midfielder Barella, currently in a €50m bidding war between Napoli, Inter and Chelsea.
“I was telling Tardelli at the Coverciano training ground that Barella moves a lot like him. He has technique, quality, rarely loses the ball, is good in the air despite not being tall, never gives up and tends to push forward, but needs to also score a few more goals.
“Considering his age and the relative lack of Serie A experience, he has a strong grasp on his role already. Barella can set the example for the young Italian players out there who can give a little more to make that step up.
“He has enormous potential for growth and if he does leave Cagliari, he must be certain that he gets to play regularly. If he does go to a big club and is a first choice, then he can improve far more. However, if he risks spending half the season on the bench, he should stay put.”
There are other young Italian talents flourishing at the moment, including Fiorentina sensation Federico Chiesa.
“It’s natural for him to stall a little, with all the pressure that has been put on his shoulders. He needs to score more goals, as that is important for someone in his role. Maybe he should ask his father Enrico for some advice on how to improve his finishing.”