4 Things Domenico Berardi Can Learn from Arturo Vidal
Domenico Berardi: a 19-year-old phenom seemingly destined for greatness.
Arturo Vidal: one of the best midfielders in the game—possibly the best player—and the brightest star on Italy's strongest team.
What brings the two together for us today? The inevitability of their becoming teammates—likely as early as next year.
Berardi can give Antonio Conte precious tactical flexibility and precocious goalscoring ability in next season's campaign—all without breaking the bank. Yes, the second half of his rights will likely cost more than the €4 million that Juve paid for the initial chunk but compared with going out and buying a similar player, it's going to be loose change.
Despite his immense potential, there is still a lot for Berardi to learn. There are few players on the squad who can teach him better than Il Guerriero.
What can Vidal do to help Berardi become a better player? Let's take a look at what lessons the younger player can learn.
Vidal has a special relationship with Antonio Conte and has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to the Bianconeri. His actions have spoken just as loud as his words—he's signed two separate contract extensions this year, the most recent in February to extend his deal to 2018.
If Berardi performs to expectations, interest will likely come early and often. With a player like Vidal staying true to the Bianconeri it will be easier for a younger player like Berardi to stay on board without being tempted by the massive money of some clubs.
Nothing has yet been published that has referred to Berardi as a slouch on the training ground but one has to work very hard to match the pace that Vidal reportedly puts up.
Adam Digby of WhoScored.com cited an example of Vidal's ferocious training earlier this season. At Juve's preseason training camp, Vidal independently led teammates through strenuous drill, pushing them to work harder and achieve greater heights.
If Berardi takes his supreme raw talent and puts it forward on the training ground with the same ferocity and dedication that Vidal does, his performance could blow through the stratosphere.
Berardi has scored 12 times this year for a team that is languishing in the drop zone. His numbers have been very impressive—but also somewhat deceptive.
Per WhoScored, more than half of his 12 goals this season came in the space of two games. Three were scored in a hat-trick against Sampdoria, and four more—a full third of his total—came in his virtuoso four-goal performance against AC Milan.
Vidal, on the other hand, consistently performs to the best of his ability nearly every week. While he can certainly score in bunches—he has two league braces and that Champions League hat-trick against Copenhagen this year—his consistency is something to be truly admired.
He hasn't gone more than three appearances in all competitions without either a goal or an assist. The sample size isn't small either—he's appeared in 38 total games this season, including every match in European competition.
Some of Berardi's streaky scoring record can be attributed to the fact that he plays for such a bad team. Sassuolo is 13th in the league in possession and 15th in shots per game. It's no surprise that a team in its maiden campaign in the top flight isn't exactly ready to compete with the best, and that poor quality definitely deprives Berardi of some opportunities.
Still, even on a bad team ,a player like Berardi should be converting the chances he does get with more regularity. Watching a player like Vidal do so week in and week out will be an inspiration to up his own game.
This one might come as a surprise considering the reputation for bookings Vidal has garnered over the years. However, there is a distinct difference in getting booked for an aggressive challenge that was a bit off and getting the ref's attention for being incredibly stupid.
Berardi has succeeded in the latter more than once in his time at Sassuolo.
Towards the end of last year's Serie B campaign, Berardi got into a fight with Vincenzo Fiorillo, then the goalkeeper at Livorno. The fracas got both players sent off and Berardi banned for three games, missing the first three Serie A games of the year.
Earlier this month, the youngster spent all of two minutes on the field as a sub against Parma before a flying elbow to an opponent earned him a straight red card. He hasn't seen the field since and was dropped from the Italian U20 squad for European Championship qualifying as well.
That's two red cards in the space of less than a year. Compare that with Vidal, who in slightly less than three seasons has been sent off only once. Not only that, he has lowered the number of bookings he's received in each of his three years with the team, going from 12 in the league to 11 to only six this year. Maturity—and his natural tackling ability, which is absolutely superlative—has kept him out of trouble.
Time is sure to rein in Berardi's wild side to an extent but having a role model like Vidal will also be valuable. Berardi comes in the same mold as the Chilean—hard-nosed and always eager to tackle—and can learn a lot about the finer arts of playing that way while still avoiding the referee's book.