Italy has had some underwhelming displays on the international level with the generation of the past decade not living up to the Azzurri’s standard. The squads during past World Cups they were a part of (and not a part of) were deemed as failures as young talents have been hard to come by.
However, Italy has seen somewhat of a golden generation emerging. Some players that have started it have been Bernardeschi (25), Romagnoli (25), Belotti (25), Gagliardini (24), Rugani (24), Caldara (24), Barella (22), Calabria (22), Mancini (22), Pellegrini (22), Chiesa (21), Cutrone (21) and Donnarumma (20). The upcoming generation of Italian talent seems to not stop there as there a few young teenage wonderkids coming up the ranks that are impressing.
Sound familiar? Daniel carries the last name of other legends who have donned the Rossoneri shirt like his grandfather Cesare and his father Paolo, who is currently Milan’s sporting director. Daniel has a lot to live up to but his career will be a little different as he is closer to the oppositions’ goal in the attacking midfield and winger positions rather than in defense like his father. He has been sparking interest around Italy this past year as the 17-year old has been playing in Milan’s U-19 team contributing 9 goals and 1 assist in 12 starts as well as 7 substituted appearances. He has a great shooting technique, impeccable vision and a wicked free kick as a few of his goals have been from an unstoppable set piece. He has been called up to Italy’s U-18 team and Milan is preparing to reward him with a new contract since his is due to expire in 2021. Look out for more of Daniel Maldini in the future as Milan is a club that is known to develop the best young talent in recent times and allows their young Italians to have many chances.
Sandro Tonali has been sparking a lot of interest this year being dubbed the “new” Andrea Pirlo not only because of his regista position or vision but also because of his hairstyle. His movements are that of Pirlo’s nature and he is also in charge of the set-piece deliveries as well, aiding the idea of being “the next” Pirlo but he has a bit of “Gattuso” in him in terms of grita, another word for grit in Italian. He was a part of Italy’s Euro U-19 team that took on Portugal in the final during the summer of 2018, impressing people so much that he was called up to the Italy squad by Roberto Mancini last November as an 18-year old. He has been a vital part of Brescia being in 1st place in Serie B, and at this rate people will be able to see his talents next year in Italy’s first division Serie A whether it is for Brescia or another team. He could also be taking part in a different league as Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus, Milan and Inter have all been linked with the young midfielder. Tonali has also been placed 7th in the 2019 NxGn, which ranks the top 50 wonderkids all around the world in the past year.
The striker has been once been labeled the “new” Messi and he has also been compared to Ibrahimovic due to his 6’2 physical stature as an 18-year old. Manchester United, one of the clubs linked with him, were so interested after a youth tournament in 2015 that they reportedly offered his father a job to persuade them to move to England. The striker came through the ranks of Genoa and made his first team appearance in December 2016 allowing him to be the joint-youngest player in Serie A history at the age of 15. Later on that year at Totti’s farewell game, he became the youngest player to score in Serie A born in 2001. He continued to make waves the following year as he became the youngest player to score two goals in a Serie A game as a 16- year old and because of this, all of the elite clubs around Europe were after the Italian striker. It turned out that he chose to move to Monaco in January 2018 for 25 million euros due to their recent history of developing young talent, most notably Mbappe. He became the youngest player to debut for Monaco at 16 years old and also was the first player born in the 21st century to score in Ligue 1. He has been through injuries in the first half of the 2018/19 season so there hasn’t been as much buzz with the 18-year old but he has been ranked 24 in the NxGn 2019 with there being a case he would’ve been so much higher if it wasn’t for injuries.
Being involved in one of the steals of the summer, Inter Milan traded their youth player Zaniolo and Santon plus 24 million euros for Roma’s Nainggolan, who hasn’t featured that much for Inter this campaign. Zaniolo was part of Italy’s Euro U-19 team with Tonali and he was also a part of Inter’s successful Primavera team last year. Roberto Mancini surprisingly called the young midfielder to the Italian national team before even making an appearance for Roma in the beginning of the 2018/19 season causing heads to turn. Roma’s former coach then gave him his Giallorossi debut in the Champions League against none other but the goliath and three-time reigning champion Real Madrid in the group stage. He has a built physique for a player with so much skill and innovation along with a daring eye for goal for a midfielder. Former Inter coach Stefano Vecchi claimed, “In my opinion, he’s a midfielder of quality and energy, a ‘Gerrard’ or ‘Lampard.’” The 19-year old started drawing attention globally after being the youngest player since Totti to score three goals in Serie A and scoring a double against Porto in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. Prepare to see more of Zaniolo as he is going to be a key part of Roma’s future.
Last but not least is Moise Kean, the 19-year old Juventus striker. He hasn’t had much playing time for the first team but don’t take anything away from him because the talent is immense and it is quite hard to get into the starting line-up of Juventus when they have 5-time Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Dybala, Mandzukic, Douglas Costa and Bernardeschi. He has been talked about in Italy for years ever since netting 21 times in 10 games for Juventus in Italy’s U-15s. He made history when he became the first player born in the 2000’s to make an appearance in one of Europe’s five major leagues as a 16 year old in November 2016 in a 3-0 win against Pescara. He was the first player born in the 2000’s to make a Champions League appearance and the first player born in the new century to score in one of Europe’s top five leagues as well in May 2017. If all of those records weren’t enough, he was the first player born in the 2000’s to be called up to the Italian national team the past November. The powerful forward is dangerously strong and explosively quick as he can play anywhere in the attacking third. He is starting to get more minutes in Serie A, which can be seen when he started against Udinese this year bagging a brace. The player was ranked 9th this year in the 2019 NxGn and expect Kean to be the answer to Italy’s striker need. Kean just recently scored for the Azzurri becoming the youngest player in over 60 years to score for Italy in their 2-0 win over Finland in a Euro2020 qualifier.