This season’s race for the Scudetto is hotting up. With just 10 games to go, three points separate Milan, Inter and Napoli, while Juventus are just seven points behind the leaders. With it being arguably the closest league in Europe’s major league’s and the standard being so high, fans of Italian football have been treated to some fantastic football this season. One thing that has been clear in recent years in Serie A is the emergence of so many exciting young players gracing the league, and playing a huge role in their team’s success. Here, we look at some of those players, with a view to this summer’s transfer window and if they could potentially be on the move, either to another club in Italy, or to one of Europe’s elite foreign clubs.
Nicolo Barella isn’t just one of the best young players in Italy, he’s up there with the best midfielders in world football at the moment. At 25 years of age, he’s one of the older players on this list, but such has been his impact for Inter and the Italian national team, he had to be mentioned. He was unable to show his abilities on the world stage due to being suspended for both legs of Inter’s Champions League defeat to Liverpool, but the Reds manager Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for the mezzala. Before the first leg, Klopp said: “It’s not bad for us! Barella is a really, really good player. He has all the things you want from a midfielder. But the replacement might be Vidal so that’s experience at its best. He played everywhere [at the] top level.” Barella has been linked with a move to the English club, dating back to last summer, and it will be interesting to see if betting sites offer odds on him to move to Liverpool in the summer in the coming months. A product of the Cagliari youth academy, Barella excels in quality passing and is more than capable of bringing the ball forward from midfield. He has also shown to be incredibly good at shooting from distance, and is capable of playing as a 10, or as a box-to-box midfielder, due to his versatility as a playmaker and as an energetic battler. If a club is planning on securing Barella’s signature this summer, it will cost a pretty penny, as he is established as one of the best players in Serie A, and a vital part of Inter’s team.
Given how good Dusan Vlahovic has been since moving to Italy, it’s easy to forget that he is just 22 years of age. He burst onto the scene for Fiorentina last season, scoring 21 goals in 37 Serie A appearances and then backed it up with an incredible 17 goals in 21 games in the league this year, before his blockbuster January move to Juventus for €70 million, plus €10 million in performance-related bonuses. The Serbian marksman has continued his form since his move to Turin, scoring three in his first five league appearances, plus a goal 33 seconds into his Champions League debut. He has already established himself as one of Europe’s most lethal marksmen in his short career, and looks set to terrorise Serie A defenders for the next decade and beyond. Juve legend Fabio Cannavaro was recently full of praise for the Serbian striker, saying he would be one of the most influential players in the title race, telling Football Italia: “Juventus have signed an incredible striker in Dusan Vlahovic. He can hold the ball and is very determined when he attacks the space, centrally or on the wings. He looked a bit tired lately but he has played many games, at his age, it’s easier to recover.”
When Pierre Kalulu arrived in Milan, very little was said about his arrival. Kalulu was just a teenager when he joined from Lyon for a fee of €1.19 million, but was yet to play in a senior game for the French club. He was seen mostly as a right-back, but since his transition to centre-half, he has gone from strength to strength since his debut, when he scored a goal in his first-ever start. Kalulu has 18 Serie A, five Champions League, and three Coppa Italia appearances to his name this season, and has become a trusted member of Stefano Pioli’s side. Against Napoli, in an extremely important game with title implications, Kalulu put in a dominant performance. After the game, he said: “It was pleasing because it was a tough game against a really strong team. That gives it extra importance, they are also direct rivals. It was nice to get that win.
“I have learnt the importance of this shirt, this team, the history of this club, I knew it before but not the whole extent of it and I fully get how big this club is in Italy and the world, I’ve learnt the importance of working hard each day.”
At just 21 years of age, Sandro Tonali has already racked up well over 100 Serie A appearances and six games for the national team. He is often likened to legendary midfielder Andrea Pirlo, due to his similar style of play as a regista, and matching haircut. This is something he has disagreed with, telling Corriere della Sera two years ago : “The Pirlo comparisons started because of that haircut. They don’t bother me, but they are not suitable. We are different on the pitch, and Pirlo had supreme qualities. I don’t know who would be able to reach those heights.” He’s an elegant and energetic midfielder with a fantastic range of passing, as well as the ability to break up tackles at the base of midfield. Pirlo himself said in May: “Tonali doesn’t look like me as a player. He is much more complete, both defensively and offensively. He is a mix between me and other players. He is not my heir because he plays differently, but he will surely become a great footballer.”
With talk of Alessio Romagnoli possibly leaving in the summer, there has even been suggestions that Tonali will take over the captaincy at Milan. Former Rossoneri star Massimo Ambrosini said: “Tonali has all the qualities to be the Milan captain in the future. However, he is not the only one. Think of Simon Kjaer, for example. He is a natural captain and the leader of his national team.”
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