After Italya s disastrous elimination from the 2014 World Cup last year, there have been calls for radical changes in Italian football. There is a valid concern that quality young players are not coming through or are not being used properly to make a difference at the international level. Although it will be hard to argue against the fact that this is the worst ever phase for the national team, still there might be some individuals who can make a decisive impact ahead of the 2016 Euro Championship and help Italy put up a challenge in France. Here we shall discuss some of the best young Italians who we feel can bring Italy back to the top and become integral members for the next decade.
The Genoa keeper widely considered as Gianluigi Buffona s successor has had another impressive season in Serie A this year. Still only 22, Perin has been with the club for six years making his debut back in 2011. He spent some time away on loan with Pescara and has made over 100 first team appearances. He has regularly displayed the strength required for an international level keeper while he also boasts a 6ft 2inches frame. He might not be exactly what Buffon was but he has the potential to become one of the best in the world. He adds a lot of personality, is very acrobatic and his lightening fast reflexes guides him a lot although he has great positioning skills as well. With years of experience, ita s easy to forget the Italian is still only 22, a fact further deceived by the command he displays in and around his area. His handling stands out too, making full use of his superb speed and reflexes to already become a fine shot-stopper, improving his footwork as well. Having cut down on the number of errors he makes, Perin has steadily improved over recent seasons, cementing himself as one of the favorites to succeed Buffon when he eventually retires. Indeed, despite only having just one full international cap, he has been a regular member of the Italy squad for the last two years, including the World Cup in Brazil last summer.
A product of the Roma academy, Alessio Romagnoli has excelled at every youth level and has represented Italy at U16, U18 and U19 level, correlating with his rise through the Roma youth ranks. Romagnoli made his Serie A debut when he came on as a sub in the 80th minute a replacing Totti – in a 4 a 2 win over AC Milan in late December. Originally an attacking midfielder when he was scouted by Roma aged 9, the youngster was converted into a defender where his height and reading of the game have been put to better use. When Zdenek Zeman was Romaa s manager, he was immediately impressed and decided to promote him to the senior squad. He was sent out on loan to Sampdoria earlier this season where he has been excellent at the heart of the Blucheratia s defence. His performances have seen him called up to Italya s Under 21 side, and along with Juventus-owned Daniele Rugani, ita s hard to argue that he is far off a senior call-up. Romagnoli plays a no-nonsense type of game, and has a good passing range. Hea s also quite tall making him an imposing presence despite his tender age. This also allows him to win his fair share of aerial battles, as he beats out smaller opponents. He also has a strong frame for his age and he uses it very effectively when muscling out opposing attackers. His versatility a being able to play at left back a also allows him to find more playing time and helps him to develop the technical side of his game. He is a player that will do anything to make a block, and put his body on the line going in hard for the cause. Romagnoli is not a player that is easily overawed by his situation. In fact, sometimes he is a little over-confident in his approach. However, that is more desirable than a lack of confidence and it will be interesting to see how the young Italian continues to grow in stature as he learns the art of defending in Serie A. He undoubtedly has time on his side though, his fast-tracked development holds him in good stead for the future, especially for a possible Azzurri call-up.
Already called up by Antonio Conte for the National team, the 20-year-old defender currently plying his trade with Empoli and co-owned by Juventus possesses all the necessary attributes required to make it at the top. Combining a powerful physique with intelligence to read the game, he boasts a winning mentality and the humility to recognize his weaknesses. Tenacious, aggressive and tactically intelligent, Rugani is excellent with his feet and renowned for his intelligence. He understands the game and thus never dives in to tackles. Everything is done at just the right time to avoid needless yellow cards, making him the perfect, graceful defender. He attempts to learn something from all the great defenders he’s watched in the past; combining everything he learns to continue developing. Regularly crediting his parents for raising him to be a man with serious outlooks, he appreciates the value of hard work. Humble and hungry, he’s the first to training and the last to leave while the luxury life footballers enjoy is not one that particularly interests him. Juventus have kept their eye on the player they know only too well and come summer, they will likely bring the defender to Turin. Italy may have disappointed in the art of defending in recent years but perhaps Rugani will live up to expectations and inspire a generation.
Darmian began his youth career at AC Milan in 2006 and remained at the club for four years. During that time he spent a spell on loan at Padova. Later he moved to Palermo (where he made 16 appearances) and then Torino (where he has played 115 games to date).The 24-year-old is predominantly a right-back but he can also play as a left-back or as a right-sided midfielder. He has been extremely effective in the right back position, providing solidity to Torinoa s defense. Darmian played seven different positions for Torino last season, chipping in three assists and averaging nearly three tackles per match. He may not be the second coming of Roberto Carlos, but Darmian is solid and remarkably versatile, and at 24-years-old, he should have plenty of room to grow and develop. Making his competitive international debut against England in the World Cup, the 24-year-old Torino defender was superb at both ends of the pitch. Darmian has begun to steadily realise the promising talent evident from a young age. Growing up in the youth sector at Milan, he was coached early in his career by Franco Baresi and the father of his Italy team-mate Ignazio Abate. He had no shortage of role models at the San Siro giants where, originally fielded in central defence, he was called to the first-team squad. Training regularly alongside the likes of Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta could not fail to boost the confidence of the talented youngster. Carlo Ancelotti would give him his full debut for the Rossoneri at the age of 16 in 2006, the first of six appearances for the Milanese giants over the following three years. Like many Torino players, the last season would prove to be a breakout campaign for the maturing defender, coach Giampiero Venturaa s decision to switch to 3-5-2 drawing the best from the most talented players in the squad. With his intelligent and decisive performances regularly grabbing attention, Darmian has been firmly backed to succeed in international level.
Verratti has proved his potential and established himself as a regular at his club PSG. Verratti is a typical deep-lying playmaker. His positioning is generally deeper than the other midfielders, and his awareness of the situation around him is excellent. He manages to get into such good positions only because of his excellent awareness. This comes from keeping his head up all the time. What you notice about Verratti is that his head is almost always looking around when he isna t in possession of the ball. This allows him to paint a mental picture of the players around him, consequently allowing him to drop into an important position. On the ball, Verratti is very calm and composed. He is never rushed into playing the ball, wherever he is, whatever the situation of the match is. This often results in him picking out good passes. His passing is a key facet of his game and he uses it well to keep the team moving. Boasting a 90% completion rate, Verratti is very much at the heart of PSGa s creativity. Even his long passes are very accurate, with about 2/3rds of them being completed. Such excellent passing is rare to see, and adds to the attack of any team. The added benefit of this passing, especially coming from the deep areas that Verratti operates in, is that it builds attacks. This ability to play the ball from the back is useful in linking the defensive players to the attacking ones. On the counter, his long passing is crucial, because the ball needs to travel faster in such situations, and long passing increases the rate at which the ball moves to the strikers. In short, Verratti is Italya s young jewel and can be expected to reach a world-class level by the time of Euro 2016.
The night he will a never forget,a as Domenico Berardi put it, on the rise of the player on a night where he saved his coach Eusebio Di Francescoa s job and sealed Massimiliano Allegria s fate. The former AC Milan manager was eventually sacked and Berardi was now one of Italian footballs rising stars. At 19-year old, Berardi became the second youngest ever player to score four goals in a Serie A game, behind the legendary Silvio Piola. Although he was effective working as a wide forward last season, he was also adept at playing as a second striker. He impressed for his quickness, technique, and shooting abilities.The ability to beat defenders and score or build chances is rare. His tactical awareness is also very good. From a tactical point of view, Di Francesco deployed Bernardi as a wide forward in a 4-3-3 formation. Playing as an inverted winger, the left-footed Bernardi was able to exploit his stronger foot and the result was impressive. Berardi is talented and has all the tools to succeed: hea s strong in a one-on-one situation, he can score goals, and assist others. Despite his young age, Berardi is also calm from the penalty spot, with his coach leaving him the penalty-taking duties. He does have some weaknesses as wea d expect of any young player. His ability to retain possession will have to improve if he is to succeed at a top club, However if Berardi does calm and continue to perform efficiently, he could end up booking a place in Italya s Euro Cup squad and make a decisive impact next year in France.