5 Predictions for Domenico Berardi's Juventus Career
Domenico Berardi has been the breakout player in Serie A this season, and he's probably a lock to be the best young player in the league as well.
The Azzurrini international has flourished for Sassuolo this season and dispatched any doubts as to whether he could make the step up to the top tier of Italian football, having played a huge part in helping the Neroverdi to promotion.
The 19-year-old is co-owned by Juventus, and given the outstanding talent he possesses, it is probable that he will eventually join the Old Lady, perhaps as soon as next season.
Here are five predictions for Berardi if and when he begins his career in a black and white shirt.
Berardi Will Start the 2014/15 Season a Bianconero
It has been discussed by the Italian media already, but Berardi should move to Juventus next summer ahead of the 2014/15 season.
Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport floated that idea back in November last year, with Juve probably needing to acquire the remaining 50 per cent of the player's rights, having bought their half of the player last summer for €4.5 million plus a co-ownership for Luca Marrone.
It is inevitable that the player's value will have soared after this season, meaning that the opportunity to buy the other half of the player will come at an increased cost to the previous €4.5 million, but Juve will inevitably strike a deal for one of Italy's best young players.
Antonio Conte would obviously be keen to bring the player to Turin, as his versatility to play all across the front three means that he will help transform Juve into a side capable of playing with a 4-3-3 formation.
Berardi to Immediately Become an Automatic Part of Italy's Squad
Once he joins Juventus, whether it will be solely down to representing one of Italy's biggest clubs, his outstanding potential or evidence that he can succeed at a higher level with more esteemed company, Berardi should be an automatic selection for Italy squads as of next season.
Berardi's versatility across the final third will make him highly useful for an Italy side that has many tactical dimensions.
Perhaps the World Cup will come too soon, but moving forward, when various players will have played their final tournament for the Azzurri, Cesare Prandelli, should he stay, or his successor will surely want to replicate Juve's probable plans to accommodate one of the most special talents in Italian football.
Berardi to See off Competition to Be at Least 4th Choice Next Season
With Berardi potentially arriving next season for the reasons in the previous slide, we can immediately project where he will sit in the pecking order.
Given Juve's willingness to float Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella—who has been omitted from the Europa League squad for the second half of the season—in the transfer market last month, it is probable that he will immediately find himself ahead of these players, as they will likely leave Turin in the summer.
Sebastian Giovinco can offer something similar to Berardi, but his smaller frame and lack of explosiveness when dribbling the ball make him an inferior option, in my opinion.
One would have to assume that Carlos Tevez will partner Fernando Llorente, or Pablo Osvaldo, should his loan move become a permanent one this summer.
This would mean that Berardi would be pencilled in as the fourth choice, or potentially an immediate back-up to Tevez, given his extra mobility that a partnership of Llorente and Osvaldo may lack.
This would be progression, in my opinion, ahead of a first-choice place at a Serie A side in the bottom half of the table.
Berardi Could Force His Way into the XI in New-Look System
Berardi will have the opportunity to force his way into the starting line-up as early as next season.
This is because Antonio Conte is intent on experimenting with a 4-3-3 formation.
Fernando Llorente and Pablo Osvaldo—should he arrive from Southampton on a permanent basis next summer—will battle it out for the centre-forward role.
Carlos Tevez will play from the left, allowing him to cut inside on to his right foot, meaning that Berardi, as a left-footed player, could become highly useful coming inside from the right on to his left foot.
He would add pace and more directness to the side, with an ability to take players on in one-on-one situations.
While the 3-5-2 will likely still be a large part of this Juve side, especially in the league campaign, Conte knows that evolution is necessary to succeed in Europe.
With the 3-5-2 formation struggling to translate to the Champions League, Berardi will inevitably find himself with opportunities to play immediately from the beginning once he has joined Juve.
Domenico Berardi has scored 12 goals in 17 matches in Serie A this season.
Having played all across the front three, that is an outstanding return for a player who is not an out-and-out centre-forward.
With a reduced amount of playing time, which will mean it will be tougher to build consistency, we can probably expect his return to fall, despite playing for a side that will certainly have a greater amount of possession and a larger amount of chances created.
Juve's current back-ups in attack are Sebastian Giovinco, who has just one goal in 10 appearances, Fabio Quagliarella, who has one goal in 14 appearances, and Mirko Vucinic, who has two goals in nine appearances.
With the knowledge that Berardi can blossom into a starter for the club, I would expect Conte to use the player with more care than he has done with the strikers mentioned above.
We could look at Giovinco and Quagliarella's numbers from last season—ignoring Vucinic, who was a guaranteed starter before Llorente and Tevez arrived.
Quagliarella played 27 times and scored nine times, while Giovinco played 31 times and scored seven times.
With this in mind, a return of at least seven goals could be expected, but with his versatility to play out wide and start in big games when Conte decides to utilise this system, I sense he can comfortably notch 10 goals in his debut season.
When you consider Juve will have Tevez, Llorente and probably Osvaldo chipping in with a larger amount of goals, the Bianconeri attack should be much more potent.