Juventus have snapped up two youngsters with great prospect – Alberto Masi and Hasan Pepic. Marotta is certainly keeping an eye for the future of Juventus, as these signings attest.
These days it has become extremely common for a sensationalism seeking media to portray any emerging talent as the “next xyz”. In most cases players who are touted to the next great thing often wither out because they have to carry the weight of the attached tag. Juventus will be hoping some of the youngsters they have signed do not fall prey to this media hyperbole. Nicola Leali has been called “next Buffon” while another new acquisition, Alberto Masi has been called as “next Nesta”.
Born on 2nd September, 1992, in Liguria region of Genoa, Alberto Masi started his career as part of one of the major clubs in the region – Sampdoria. At the age of 17, Masi was sent to local club Lavagnese in Serie D where he played 19 times before spending one season in Sampdoria. Season 2011/12 saw him on the move once again, though to a more illustrious name this time – Pro Vercelli. Pro used to be one of the greatest club sides in Italy in early 20th century but had gradually lost their footing in recent times. Masi joined the club languishing in Group A of Lega Pro Divisione, effectively third division in Italy. He made his league debut on 18th September during a 1-0 win over Monza but soon made the starting spot his own.
As the season dawned to an end, Alberto Masi had accumulated 24 games for his new club, 22 of them in starting line-up. His defensive showings were often compared to the “Chinese wall” by an increasingly elated Pro Vercelli official site. Pro eventually scraped into a play-off position and their record of conceding 19 goals in 34 matches was second best in the league. He also notched up his first goal in senior level in this period by scoring against Pavia on 6th November, 2011.
Masi carried his impressive form to play-offs as Pro Vercelli first knocked out league runners Taranto (eventually relegated due to Calciomercasso scandal) and then won the two legged final against Carpi FC to achieve their first Serie B promotion in 64 years. The youngster was in his elements in the final lap, playing every single minute as Pro curved out 0-0 away draws in both ties. His impressive displays had attracted scouts from bigger clubs.
Sampdoria and Pro Vercelli were unable to decide on a transfer fee for him so they relied on the uniquely Italian approach of blind bidding with the latter getting complete ownership of Masi. Just two weeks later he was shipped off to Juventus in a co-ownership deal, quite a big leap for the young man.
Masi is a composed and elegant defender for his age, which originally started the Nesta comparisons. This article on parlacalcio.co.uk gives a brief description on his style:
As a defender he is composed, athletic, with the ability to think his way out of defence rather than simply put his boot through the ball. Don’t expect lung busting runs. Masi will quickly sweep up on the edge of his box by either playing the ball across the back four to a man in the clear, or look to release his midfield. He’ll rarely leave his keeper exposed by being caught up field.
As a player, he is as comfortable on the ball as he is assured in positioning himself without it. He may not have the strength of another Juventus defender, Giorgio Chiellini, but then Masi’s approach is based more on anticipation, both of ball and man, than it is, last ditch heroics.
He was booked just five times in his 2087 league minutes, one of them being a direct red card. He has been described by Pro Vercelli ‘keeper Alex Valentini as “an intelligent defender” who is already mature enough to play in Serie B. Masi is essentially an investment for the future as Juventus central defence is already full of quality players who still have years left in their career. Both Marotta and Paratici were in Sampdoria when Masi started his career and they are reported to be long time admirers of him.
Click here to know more about Masi.
Hasan Pepic will become the second Montenegrin player in Juventus after Mirko Vuncinic. The rumour that Pepic had already agreed to sign for Juventus was floating around for a while but the club was reportedly waiting for him to receive his German passport so that he didn’t take up a non-EU slot. The signing is yet to be made official.
Born on 16th March, 1993 in Podgorica in erstwhile Yugoslavia, Pepic plied his trade in German football structure for his entire career. He initially played for clubs like SF Rammingen and SSV Reutlingen but soon attracted attention of the big club to which these clubs acted as feeders – VfB Stuttgart. Aged 16, Pepic made his debut for Stuttgart U17 team against local side Tus Ergenzingen in Regionalliga Süd, the fourth tier of German football.
Pepic steadily progressed through Stuttgart’s youth ranks, playing for the U19 side before moving to Karlshruhe U19 team in 2011. Pepic represented Stuttgart U17 and U19 teams for 22 times combined during his stay at the club. The young Montenegrin finally began to impress in Karlshruhe U19. He made his debut against his old side, Stuttgart U19 on 20th August, 2011. Though Karlshruhe lost 4-2, Pepic was in fine form, assisting both the goals scored by his team. Eight days later he notched up his first goal for Karlshruhe as he scored during a 2-1 win over Freidburg U19. Pepic would continue his good form in next few months as Karlshruhe notched up seven wins in ten matches. Pepic didn’t score any more goals but he did assist seven goals in that period, including two in a 3-0 win over Hoffenheim U19.
Pepic’s encouraging performance for U19 team saw him move up a level to Karlshruhe reserve team. He made his debut against Hoffenheim reserve team. In total, Pepic accumulated 4 appearances for the reserve team, along with his eleven matches for the U19 team.
Hasan Pepic is essentially a left sided player and has played mostly as a winger or a wing-back. He is a pacy player, with good technique and has the ability to cut back from the wings. Pepic has mainly excelled as an assister till now and his ability to score goals leaves a lot to be desired. However, he is still very young and can only get better with age.
Pepic’s attribute as a player means he can fit into Conte’s 3-5-2, should he mature properly as a player. Right now, Paolo De Ceglie is the only out and out left back/wing-back Juventus have while the likes of Chiellini and Giachherini have slotted in as stop gap options from time to time. However, like Masi, it is highly unlikely that Pepic will have any part to play in Juventus in next 1-2 seasons.
In all likelihood these two will be loaned out so that they can get familiar with the nuances of Italian football. They do represent the encouraging recent tendency of Marotta-Paratici regime to scout out young prospects.
All stats courtesy of http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/