Wednesday, December 3 rd, 2014
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Cristante joins Benfica: Milan lose one of the 11 Italian wonderkids
The defensive playmaker was considered one of the best Italian young footballers. Milan sold him to the Portuguese side in a 6 Millions deal
by Richard Clarke
Mattia Perin (Genoa), 1992, goalkeeper
With his wild hair and at times risky play around the box Latina born Mattia Perin is considered something of an eccentric in Serie A but an outstanding talent nonetheless. His debut season in Serie A with Pescara was a gruelling baptism of fire for the young goalkeeper with his side conceding a total of 84 goals as they finished rock-bottom of the table. However Last season Perin enjoyed a more successful campaign with Genoa where he impressed spectators with some excellent individual performances keeping a total of 11 clean-sheets in 37 starts. An improvement in discipline and judgement in the last 12 months secured his place in Italy’s squad for the World Cup where he served as an understudy to the legendary Buffon who may have had a thing or two to teach the talented youngster. 

Simone Scuffet  (Udinese), 1996, goalkeeper
A rival Perin will certainly face in his attempt to claim Buffon’s throne is Simone Scuffet. Udinese’s young shot-stopper was one of the true breakout stars of the 2013-14 campaign with some truly spectacular displays garnering comparisons with the great Buffon himself. Thrown in at the deep-end against Bologna the precocious Udine native kept a clean sheet on his debut and went from strength to strength with strong performances against Genoa and Milan. At the tender age of 17 Scuffet was impressively a contender to be on the plane to Brazil this year with the third spot eventually going to Perin; these two outstanding youngsters could form a rivalry reminiscent of Toldo and Buffon.  If the young talent from Udine can maintain his level of performance and development it won’t be long till a no1 shirt at one of Italy’s top clubs and a Nazionale spot become actualities. 

Nicola Murru (Cagliari), 1994, left-back
A Cagliari native and graduate of the Sardinian club's youth academy; Nicola Murru has represented Italy at every youth level. This young left-back (and left-footed) is at times reminiscent of David Alaba with his pacey bursts from defence, which often end with a powerful shot or a precise cross. Linked with Juventus and Inter Murru has caught the eye of many admirers this season with some impressive and mature performances for his hometown club.

Alessio Romagnoli (Roma), 1995, centre-back
A tall and strong central defender with a big future ahead of him. Left-footed, he can play easily as a left-back as well. In the Roma “Primavera” (the youth team) he proved to be able to manoeuvre as a deep playmaker, as a shield for his defence. Zdenek Zeman conceded him the first Serie A app in 2012-2013. In a Roma-Genoa 4-0 he scored with a perfect header, becoming the youngest scorer of that season. The Roman native enjoyed increased playing time under Rudi Garcia this season and looked competent and confident at the heart of Roma's defence; all the more notable given his tender age of 19. A future club captain in the making, Romagnoli has been a prominent fixture in all of Italy's youth sides. 

Lorenzo Crisetig (Inter), 1993,  central midfielder 
A versatile midfielder and product of Inter's youth academy Lorenzo Crisetig has amassed a substantial amount of youth caps for Italy. He has also featured for la Nazionale at an abundance of youth tournament's which will stand him in good stead when he looks to make the step up to the full national side. The left-footer has been on loan at Serie B side Crotone for the last 2 seasons where he has excelled in his 55 league appearances.  Crisetig is certainly ready to make the step up to Serie A and would be a worthy addition to any mid-table side.

Domenico Berardi (Juventus), 1994,  winger/striker
Arguably the most exciting young attacking talent to emerge in Serie A since the enigmatic Mario Balotelli. Berardi has the dangerous and rare blend of blistering pace and excellent technique which is reminiscent of a young Arjen Robben. Berardi has lit up the peninsula this season with some exceptional individual performances including a historic four goal haul against Milan; the 19 year-old forward managed 16 league goals in his debut Serie A campaign. Left-footed, he prefers to start from the right band but he has the potential to become a valid second striker also. Courted by Man Utd and Real Madrid it was the Old Lady that managed to seal Berardi's signature in a co-ownership deal. A future with Juventus is certainly on the horizon for the precocious forward who possesses all the talent to follow the example set by  Alessandro Del Piero and become a fan favourite and club icon.  Some discipline problems have impeded his development with the Under-21's but a recent improvement in attitude and temperament have mended these broken bridges.

Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria-Juventus), 1991, striker
Footballing greatness runs in the Gabbiadini family with Manolo's sister Melania holding the goalscoring record for Italy's ladies team. Another Juventus co-ownership, the Sampdoria youngster had an impressive campaign last year with a return of 8 goals while playing in an unfamiliar wing role. Gabbiadini possesses impressive pace for a tall forward and has a powerful left-boot to rival the legendary Vieri. The youngster has an enviable goalscoring record for the Under-21's with 12 goals in 24 appearances. With his first cap already under his belt next year will be a pivotal season for Manolo as he looks to turn his raw potential into proven ability and more importantly goals.

Andrea Petagna (Milan), 1995, striker
Phisically strong, techically gifted, Petagna is a complete forward. He's a natural centre-forward but he doesn't suffer the presence of another striker. He's a goalscorer but a good assist-man too. Petagna resembles Zlatan Ibrahimovic. These skills make Petagna one of the best emerging Italian forwards. His left-footed shot is powerful but he still has to improve with his right foot, and he still doesn't exploit his physical presence enough. In the 2012-2013 season he made his Champions League debut in Milan-Zenit San Petersburg.

Bryan Cristante (Milan), 1995, midfielder
Born in Italy from a Canadian father and Italian mother, he's 100% Italian. The best position where Cristante could be deployed is close to the defence, as a defensive playmaker. Phisycally strong, good in controlling the ball he has a powerful shot which makes his offensive raids very dangerous for the opponents. He's Milan's youngest debutante in Champions League: he played his first European game at his 16 years and 9 months.

Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), 1994, winger
Bernardeschi is one of the most gifted players of his generation. He has amazing dribblings and shooting abilities and he's a set-piece hit man. He's a left-footed winger who prefers starting from the right, to exploit his ballistic skills. He needs to improve with his right foot and he's still a bit dreamy during the non-possession phase. Fiorentina brought him back home again after a positive experience at Crotone (Serie B), where he scored 12 goals in 39 games.

Hachim Mastour (Milan), 1998, trequartista
He's the youngest in this overview. At the end of the 2013-2014 team, the young prodigy was included in Milan's first team when he still hadn't had his 16th birthday. Mastour was born in Italy from Moroccan parents and he already played in the Under 16 Italian national team. He's an astonishingly gifted,  left-footed trequartista, although he can play as second striker. Watching his tricks is an amazing experience, although sometimes he tends to exaggerate. His  technique, passing and dribbling are manifestly of another level compared to his peers. To have a clue of the consideration given to the kid, he was invited by Red Bull to perform in a footbal free-style show along with Neymar, who congratulated him for his skills. Actually, the best tricks in this video are Mastour's... But football is not only about freestyle tricks, and Mastour's career – although he's considered as a predestined star– still has to be built, he never had the chance to put himself to the test with professional footballers and, by the way, continuity is a hard goal to reach. Milan will have to plan carefully his physical development, as he's already worryingly injury-prone.
According to Transfermarkt, his value is 850.000 €... If he keeps growing, he will reach astronomical heights, even though he'll be 20 at Russia 2018. Will he be too young to be called or too strong to be ignored?

Tuesday, September 2 nd, 2014
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