Following Italy’s humiliating 4-1 friendly defeat to World Champions Germany in March, Antonio Conte may well want to give himself as many options as possible throughout his squad in terms of tactics and selection, perhaps moving away from his tried and trusted back three. Mattia De Sciglio could be the answer to the Azzurri Coach’s prayers. Despite having not yet reached his 24th birthday, De Sciglio is a vastly experienced option for Conte to call upon, having racked up nearly a century of appearances for Milan as well as 22 caps for his country, including a start at the 2014 World Cup. Such a calm head on young shoulders has drawn comparisons to fellow Rossoneri graduate Paolo Maldini and, whilst not reaching anywhere near those illustrious standards just yet, De Sciglio has proved himself not only on the domestic scene, but in Europe as well.
It’s not the emergence from the Milan youth team that has drawn parallels with Maldini. He can play comfortably on either flank and has even filled in as a central defender when an injury crisis rocked the club. Graduating through every age group of the club’s academy, he would make his full debut in late 2011 when he was still only 18 years old.
He quickly became a mainstay of the side as only five players would start more league games for Milan during the following campaign. His quality and versatility caught the eye of Cesare Prandelli, the Italy Coach giving him his first taste of international football in March 2013. De Sciglio would immediately look comfortable there too, eventually becoming a regular for the Azzurri and was part of the squad which finished third in the Confederations Cup that summer. Should Conte choose to trust his back three or revert to a back four, De Sciglio could be a key component with his ability to play full-back or wing-back. Equally able at both ends of the pitch, De Sciglio rarely slides into tackles, having both the pace and confidence to make standing challenges, while his ambidexterity also makes him comfortable enough to lead into them with either foot.
With that defensive assuredness evident in either full-back role, in attack he is far more effective on the left, cutting in onto his right foot to join the attack. Passing is an oft over-looked attribute of his, De Sciglio having never had a pass completion rate below 80% over his five seasons of senior football. Versatility, a calm and experienced head and good at both ends of the pitch. De Sciglio could be one of the first names in the squad.
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