Best Young Players From Serie A To Watch In 2020-2021 Season
We have finally arrived at the end of this series. After looking at the top youngsters to watch out for during the 2020-21 season in each of the top four European leagues, we are now going to do the same for Italian Serie A.
Dejan Kulusevski, now 20, had a stellar record with Parma Calcio 1913 during the 2019-20 season. Kulusevski was initially on loan from Juventus FC but became a crucial player for Parma to help them land the 11th spot in Serie A this season.
Kulusevski made 36 appearances for Parma during the season– starting 33 out of those 36 and spending a total of 2,930 minutes on the pitch.
In those minutes, the Swedish international managed to score ten goals and assist a further 8– overperforming his 6.7 expected goals but underperforming his 9.0 expected assists.
Kulusevski is primarily a left-footed right-sided winger by trade. Watching him play makes it obvious that dribbling, speed, and skill on the ball are his strengths. These attributes are also what made him an excellent asset for Parma during the 2019/20 league campaign.
His dribbling stats were also astonishing during the campaign. He completed 87 out of his 154 attempted dribbles– resulting in a dribble success rate of 56.5 percent. He also ranked 4th in the league for the 'numbers of players dribbled past.' On a similar note, he landed the 7th position in the league for progressive carrying distance.
Along with his dribbling skills, his contributions to goals are also substantial with 137 Shot-Creating Actions and 4.21 SCA per 90. He ranked 6th in the league for this particular category. His Goal-Creating Actions weren’t too bad, either, as he was involved in 15 GCA.
In addition to these stats, a few others are worth mentioning as well. Kulusevski ranked 5th in the league for key passes with 76 and ranked 2nd in the league for pressures with 768.
His loan season with Parma comes to an end on the 31st of August 2020. It will be fascinating to see if he manages to stay at Juventus — who are set to start the 2020-21 season under a new manager in Andrea Pirlo — or has to go on another loan season elsewhere.
Sandro Tonali is another 20-year-old to fall on this list.
The Italian international generally plays in the defensive midfield position. He played in the holding role during this season in Brescia’s preferred 4-3-1-2 formation.
When we watch him in action on the field, a few things stand out immediately; those are his long passing, set-piece deliveries, his ability to bring the ball forward through dribbles or passes, and his ability to play under pressure.
Let’s start with his passing. Tonali provided seven assists in 35 games this season in the Serie A overperforming his expected assists of 5.4.
He is very much a Pirlo-Esque player when it comes to long passing. He likes to play long, progressive passes, and the stats support that.
In the league, he provided 65 key passes– 139 passes into the final third, 26 passes into the penalty area, and 248 progressive passes – averaging 7.4 progressive passes per 90.
Tonali recorded an impressive pass completion rate of 71.9 percent. SImilarly, he has 84.4 medium-range and 57.6 percent long pass completion rates.
His passes, whether from dead-ball situations or live-ball, contributed a lot to Brescia’s offense. Tonali was involved in 3.43 SCA per 90 and 0.36 GCA per 90 in the 2019-20 Serie A season.
As a defensive midfielder, Tonali does put up good defensive numbers. He recorded 41 successful tackles out of 52 attempted, successfully tackled 14 dribblers, made 557 pressures with 140 successful, recorded 41 interceptions, 57 blocks, and 46 clearances.
Tonali will be an exciting player to watch next season as he grows more into the game. He is even linked with moves to Juventus and Inter Milan. But only time will tell whether we will watch him at Brescia in Serie B next season or with another club.
Alessandro Bastoni is a year older than his two previous counterparts.
Inter Milan bought Bastoni in August of 2017 for €31.1 million after spending a few seasons on loan at Parma and Atlanta. Under manager Antonio Conte, Bastoni has become a starting lineup material. The center-back started in 21 of his 25 appearances in the league this season.
In his 25 appearances, Bastoni recorded decent defensive stats as the left center-back in Conte’s three-man defense. He made 21 successful tackles out of 38 attempts (being dribbled past by only 16 players). Similarly, he also recorded 246 pressures, 34 blocks, 26 interceptions, and 74 clearances. He also managed to contribute two goals from the defense.
Although Bastoni doesn’t prefer to play out from the back, he has decent passing stats. Bastoni had an 88 percent pass completion rate in the league alone. He completed 317 of his 420 attempted long passes, giving him a completion rate of 75.5 percent. He also provided 16 key passes, completed 92 passes into the final third and 13 passes into the penalty, and made 104 progressive passes in the league.
With such impressive defensive stats in a such a short time, Alessandro Bastoni will certainly be a treat to watch during the 2020-21 Serie A season.
Nicolo Zaniolo, like Bastoni, is just 21 years of age. However, Zaniolo is an attacking midfielder as opposed to Bastoni's center-back position.
Zaniolo played fewer games this season than he did during the 2018-19 season under Paulo Fonseca at AS Roma. He made only 26 appearances this season with 16 starts in comparison to last season’s 27 appearances and 20 starts.
Ironically, despite the lesser number of appearances, Zaniolo's performances have only been better on the pitch.
As an attacking midfielder, his main job is to be involved in front of the goal– whether by scoring goals or creating opportunities in any other way.
Zaniolo scored six goals in the 2019-20 Serie A and assisted further two. He outperformed his expected goals of 3.9 but underperformed his expected assists of 3.2.
His passing isn’t too bad, either. Zaniolo made 24 key passes, 26 passes into the final third, 18 passes into the penalty box, and 46 progressive passes. He was involved in 3.83 Shot-Creating Actions per 90 and 0.54 Goal-Creating Actions in the same time frame.
His dribbling is also another thing to watch out for as he completed 64.3 percent of his dribbles in the 2019-20 league campaign.
With Mkhitaryan’s loan spell ending at the end of August and Javier Pastore getting older, Zaniolo will definitely play more matches than this season. Therefore, you should keep an eye out for this talent next season.