A look at ten of the brightest young starts threatening to take Serie A by storm this season.
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Position: Attacking midfielder
Lamela is one of the most exciting signings in Serie A this summer, arriving from Argentine giants River Plate. Blessed with great athleticism, wonderful dribbling ability and a lethal left foot, he will be hoping to make a big impact on Serie A in his debut season. Lamela’s style of play is quite similar to that of fellow Argentine Javier Pastore who made a huge impact in his two seasons in Italy.
Lamela will probably have to bide his time at the beginning of the season with stiff competition in the attacking department. He is also likely to miss the start of the season with an ankle injury picked up in the U-20 World Cup.
Position: Attacking midfielder
Many will be hoping that Fabbrini is the new no.10 that Italian football has been crying out for. With an elegant poise on the ball and an extremely sharp football mind, how Fabbrini develops this season will be of great interest to Nazionale fans. An impressive couple of seasons in Serie B and with the u-21 national side have done enough to persuade Udinese to purchase his transfer rights from Empoli.
With Alexis Sanchez leaving for Barcelona in the summer, a gap has emerged that Udinese want filled as urgently as possible. Gabriel Torje (The Romanian Messi) and Roberto Pereyra (Lamela’s ex team mate at River and fellow Argie U-20 star) have also arrived so the battle to take Sanchez spot will be fierce. When the young Italian’s chance comes along he will need to take it, otherwise he could be waiting a while for another onw.
Bojan burst on the scene as a young teenager and was hailed as the next big star of Barcelona’s much vaunted youth system. Alas things have not worked out as they were meant to for the young Spaniard. With his career having come to a halt with the Catalans, he has decided to follow Luis Enrique to the Italian Capital.
You always got the feeling watching Bojan with Barcelona that their two styles did not quite marry, although he possessed the technical one-touch skills that you need in their system, Bojan likes to play with a bit more directness than the extremely patient Barcelona play. With the greatest player of all time along side him at Rome this season, you would imagine Bojan can only profit from this. With his clever movement and speed of thought the young Spaniard will surely be well amongst the goals as De Rossi, Pjanic, Gago and Totti look to pick out his clever runs. Converting his chances is an area that Bojan certainly needs to look at though.
Stephan El Sharaawy
Position: Wide attacker
Milan have been miserly, if shrewd, in the transfer market this campaign, picking up bosmans and cut-price deals for established players. What was surprising though was a relatively big outlay - €7.5m on 50% of 18 year old Stephan El Sharaawy’s transfer rights. Making your debut as a 16 year old in Serie A is quite a big deal, but since then he went off the radar, only re-emerging last season when he was loaned out to Serie B side Padova making a big impression, which prompted Milan to splash out on him.
El Shaarawy’s preferred position is on the left side on a front three, cutting inside and commiting players. It’s unlikely he will get to sample that position with Milan as Allegri has been quite rigid in his 4-3-1-2 formation and faces stiff competition from the likes of Aquilani, Seedorf, Robinho and Cassano for the role just off the strikers. It looks like El Sharaawy’s purchase is for the future but when Milan invest a considerable sum of money in a teenager, they have usually done their homework, see Pato and Kaka.
Castaignos arrived with little fanfare over the summer, the deal having already been agreed last spring. His impact in pre-season has been notable however. Physically powerful for a player of his age, standing 6ft2 with speed and power, means he is ready for Serie A right now. Comparisons have been made between the Dutchman and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry but Castaignos has alot to prove yet.
The new footballing philisophy that Gasperini will bring to Inter is sure to bring the best out of all his attackers, and that includes Castaignos. More freedom empowered in an attacking sense will surely provide Castaignos with ample scoring opportunities and as he proved in the Aviva - he can finish.
Club: Lecce (on loan from Juventus)
Position: Central midfielder
The youngster arrives of loan from Juventus and will be eager to make an impression to stay in his ambitious parent club’s plans. A really imposing physical presence in midfield, Giandonato will be hoping to show that he is capable of performing in Serie A at his young age. The youngster is not all brawn though, as he possesses great technical abilities (see his goal against Man Utd in Scholes testimonial).
In a team that is destined to be battling relegation, Giandonato is going to have to learn quickly at this level and as one of his sides more skilled and rounded players, there will be an extra onus on the teenager to show himself and what he’s capable of with the watching eyes of the Juventus management keeping a close eye on his development.
Position: Attacking midfielder
Merkel had a bigger role with the champions last season than most people would have thought, making the most of an injury crisis and equipping himself relatively well amongst his more experienced opponents. Which makes it more of a surprise that he was offloaded to Genoa this season - alebit on a co-ownership basis. Still a bit frail physically, his energetic and fearless attitude won many admirers and he should find playing minutes easier to come by in the port city.
He has expressed his desire to return to Milan and there’s no better way for that to happen than making a considerable impression for Genoa this season. Preferring a more advanced role, Merkel is the type of player who can adapt to any role across the midfield.
The Uruguayan would have been looked on to fill the void left by his fellow countryman, Edinson Cavani, last season. Unfortunatley for Hernandez he was hit by injuries. Now injury-free and eager to prove himself, he will be looking to figure heavily on the scoring front. With Pastore having departed already this season, the Uruguayan will be earmarked as Palermo’s biggest attacking weapon.
Very direct, pacey and strong. Hernandez has all the characterisitics to prove himself a thorn in the side for Serie A defences. His powerful shooting on his left foot are bound to test goalkeepers out aplenty. A good season with likely see him move on for a large sum of money - as Zamperini likes to do.
Gabbiadini was a relative nobody until he exploded on the scene at this summer’s Toulon tournament. At 19 the youngster has netted an impressive 6 goals in 10 appearance for the national U-21 side. After spending last season on loan at Cittadella, where he scored an underwhelming 6 in 25, he has returned to Atalanta in a haze of glory after his national team exploits.
Tall and instinctive, he will be hoping to establish his name in the Bergamo outfit’s starting team this season as they battle bravely against relegation, having alreadly being docked 6 points before the season has already begun. Whether Gabbiadini is the real deal or not is open for debate but you have to be impressed by his recent record.
Club: Chievo (on loan from Milan)
Paloschi made his name from scoring on his Serie A debut for Milan, aged 17. The following season he went on loan to Parma, then in Serie B, where he further enhanced his reputation with a decent goal return, since then the youngster has battled for game time at Parma and latterly, Genoa. Milan purchased his rights this summer and subsequently loaned him out to Chievo - where he looks set to be trusted upon to fire the flying donkeys away from relegation.
Paloschi is a natural penaly box striker, alert, composed and an excellent finisher, his downfall the past few seasons were coaches who preferred more established and experienced players. At Chievo I believe he will get the opportunity to prove himself in Serie A, I believe he’ll come out of it with a decent goal showing too.
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