With Serie A returning to its most competitive status and the 2018 World Cup fast approaching, Freebets have picked out five U21 players to watch from Italy’s top tier:
Unbelievably, it’s now been over two years since AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma burst onto the scene in style. Only eight matches short of 100 professional appearances, Donnarumma is regarded as the likely future best goalkeeper in the world. Capped four times by Italy ahead of veteran Gigi Buffon, Donnarumma stands at a magnificent 6 ft 5 and uses that height to full effect. With outstanding reflexes, unbelievable aerial presence and supreme confidence, there’s no doubt this 18 year old will be football superstar for the next 10-20 years.
After a terrific breakthrough year in Serie B with Cesena, Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie didn’t wait around to stand out in the Atalanta squad. Blasting in six goals in 30 games, Kessie operated as the engine room for Gian Piero Gasperini high flying side. With just a year of top flight experience, ambitious AC Milan came calling and Kessie signed for the Italian giants. With great energy, strength and ball skills in his favour, the 19 time Ivory Coast international has a big future ahead of him in Italy.
One of two talents on this list signed cheaply by Sampdoria’s superb global scouting network, Patrik Schick was picked up from Sparta Prague after spending a year out on loan at Bohemians 1905. It took just a few games for the Czech frontman to impress, appearing in 32 league contests in the Italian top flights and bagging 11 goals. That tally, including a sensational Dennis Bergkamp-esque goal, earned interest from Juventus, who saw a 30m euro deal fall through because of a medical. Roma seized advantage and snapped up the lanky forward soon after; he’s got all the tools to be successful in Serie A long-term.
Guinean youngster Amadou Diawara was enduring a quiet youth career in his native land when Italian Lega Pro minnows San Marino brought him to Europe in 2014. That move was the catalyst for Bologna Director of Football Pantaleo Corvino shelling out £420,000 to bring him to the Serie A after just one season. Maurizio Sarri instantly spotted his box-to-box midfield talents and gave him a giant move to Napoli last summer and he’s excelled when given chances. Now 20 years old, Diawara doesn’t feature every week, but he’s improving in playmaking, winning back possession and positioning constantly – so much so, that Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura wants him to switch allegiances!
The least recognisable name on this list is probably Sampdoria’s second best recent recruit. Signed for just 1.5m euros from Pescara, Torreira had just made two first team appearances when La Samp came calling. Gifted with strong ball skills, crazy acceleration, high levels of energy and astonishing low centre of gravity, Lucas Torreira is one of Uruguay’s brightest talents in years. Making 46 appearances for Sampdoria already, Torreira has helped the Italian club progress since earning his spot, helping them achieve a 10th place position last season and a current rank of 6th as it stands. Given his consistency, he could end up picking from a number of huge clubs in the near future!