When Juventus made the decision to sign Federico Chiesa from Fiorentina last October, there were many that questioned if the eclectic winger was up for the task. An assist and a red card on his Bianconeri debut did nothing to squash the uncertainty that surrounded Juve’s call to tie themselves into a deal that could potentially cost up to €60m after the initial loan period ends.
However, fast forward a few short months and the former Viola attacker has become a pivotal part of Pirlo’s team. Chiesa has been The Old Lady’s best performer in 2021 so far and a major reason why Juve aren’t even further behind in the Betiton odds. Since making his Serie A debut in April 2017 at the age of 19 – against Juventus – Chiesa has long been touted for a big money move. Rumoured interest from Europe’s top clubs came and went and he remained in Florence for longer than had been anticipated.
The initial questions around his end product, decision making and tactical understanding have slowly drifted away, being replaced by excitement and anticipation as a result of game changing performances. Seven goals and two assists in this calendar year, along with standout displays against Milan and in last weekend’s encounter with Lazio have seen Chiesa become irreplaceable in Pirlo’s starting XI.
The demanding environment at the reigning Italian champions has seen ‘Fede’ flourish. He is talking like a champion and playing like one too. Mister Pirlo has made it known that he was the one who had requested Chiesa’s signing, saying he has “the prototype of a champion”. Chiesa is exactly what Pirlo and his new look Juventus required, a wide player whose attributes can help the Juve coach bring his strategy to life.
Chiesa is direct and his explosive pace coupled with his super dribbling ability allows him to evade defenders in a flash. The No. 22 is always searching for ways to make an impact, as he looks to drive at opponents and get into the box at every opportunity. Chiesa welcomes pressure from defenders and never shies away from the responsibility of taking the ball.
The Italy international has a competitive streak and is just as menacing without possession as he is with it. A willing worker with boundless energy, his industry was highlighted by his fantastic effort for Juve’s second goal in Saturday’s win over Lazio. The build-up to Alvaro Morata’s finish encapsulated everything that is great about his game.
Chiesa’s opportunism and tenacity saw him pounce on a short pass inside his own half. Having poked the ball away from a hesitant Mohamed Fares, Chiesa proceeded to spring a counter before calmly rolling through his Spanish teammate who finished expertly. It was Chiesa’s determination that made it possible, as he recognised the development of play and forced an error.
The 23-year-old’s defensive actions are crucial with Juventini offered a glimpse of what the Bianconeri’s future playing style could look like with Chiesa at the forefront of it. Against the Bianconlesti Chiesa set the tempo. He danced past defenders, hustled, pressed relentlessly and was the driving force behind a Juve team that we have rarely seen play with such intensity for long spells of a match. For the 82 minutes Chiesa was on the pitch he was dominant in all phases of the game.
Alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Chiesa has become La Vecchia Signora’s go-to man, the player that fans look toward to make a difference. He is well on the way to producing double figures for both goals and assists this term, a feat that would represent an impressive return for his first season at Italy’s biggest club. If Chiesa can continue to add more goals to his game, there is nothing stopping him from becoming a truly elite player.
Ideally suited for the modern era, Chiesa has further scope for development and is currently thriving off the trust of his coach and the greater responsibility that playing for Juve has brought him. Having already racked up over 150 Serie A appearances, Chiesa now has exposure to playing in the Champions League, is competing for trophies and is already an integral part of Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri. The player earmarked as Italy’s star of the future is showing signs of making good on that expectation.