Serie A: Youngsters Set to Sizzle in the Second Half of the Season
The Italian first division is off and running, and while familiar faces are hovering near the top, there has been plenty of drama unfolding so far this season.
Teams like Juventus, Milan, Napoli, Udinese, Roma and Inter have some big names helping lead their lines, but the play of young up-and-comers has caught the eye of critics and pundits alike.
Footy has the tendency of showcasing unknown and inexperienced talent, and Serie A has long been a league where youngsters make a name for themselves. Some players have started life in Italy very smoothly, while others are slowly getting their feet wet.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be long before we are talking about these young guns and I expect big things out of these guys during the second half of the Serie A season.
Erik Lamela, Roma
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The 19-year-old Argentine was brought to Rome for a cool €19 million during the summer and the expectations that followed Erik Lamela to the Stadio Olimpico were lofty.
A River Plate graduate, Lamela starred for the Buenos Aires club and shot to prominence in a short time. He amassed 34 appearances and scored five goals last year, yet his consistent play couldn’t keep the cherished club from succumbing to relegation.
Naturally, River was forced to watch big names exit and Lamela was courted by Europe’s elite. He is a prototypical “trequartista” but has the capabilities to play on the flank as a deep-lying central midfielder or even a complementary striker.
He has played five times for the Roman outfit so far and scored one goal, and his first three months in Italy have been mixed. But don’t let his slow start fool you, because Lamela has world-class potential and should explode during the second half of the season—pending anymore bust-ups with teammates.
Bojan Krkic, Roma
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Another Giallorossi player, Bojan Krkic made the switch from Barcelona over the summer in hopes of garnering steady first-team opportunities.
Holding a dual citizenship, the 21-year-old pledged his allegiance to Spain and the former Barcelona stalwart was once regarded as the next gigantic thing in world footy. But life at the Camp Nou was frustrating for the striker and in order to prevent his career from fading, he left the club for bigger endeavors.
Roma acquired the services of Bojan for €12 million—albeit under very complicated circumstances—and that appears to be bargain judging by his early performances. He has been efficient, scoring three goals in his 8 appearances while providing speed, trickery and depth for Luis Enrique’s side.
Krkic still has plenty of critics questioning him though but he will use the second half of the season to quiet such detractors. He’s been playing for so long and has achieved so much that it is hard to imagine what else he needs to do to shut people up, but Bojan will remain motivated as the season unwinds.
Diego Fabbrini, Udinese
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Relatively unknown coming into the season, Diego Fabbrini shredded up the second division last season and deservedly earned the right to try his luck in Serie A.
The Italian youngster experienced a rise in the ranks at Empoli before coming over the Udinese. The Zebrette’s are two points adrift from the top of the table and heading into the latter half of the season, Fabbrini’s role is likely to increase.
The 21-year-old has featured 12 times for Italy’s U-21 squad and looks to fight for his first senior cap come 2012. A quick dribbler who is blessed with pace, Fabbrini is poised on the ball and is heavily praised due to his footballing intelligence.
And although he has featured only a few times so far this term, Fabbrini is too talented to keep on the bench and his time will certainly come. The race for the Serie A title is very tight and Fabbrini will make his mark in the new year.
Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan
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The product of an Egyptian father and Italian mother, Stephan El Shaarawy made his Serie A debut 55 days after his 16th birthday and hasn’t looked back since.
El Shaarawy, with his recognizable haircut, came to Milan from Padova after making his way to the Genoa first team. His loan season at Padova proved to be immensely important for his progress, and he was a key component to the team’s late-season bid for top-flight status.
The lanky attacking midfielder has blazing speed and amazing body control, and his ability to unravel a backline draws him some heavy comparisons. He came to Milan with loads of confidence and it looks as if El Shaarawy is ready to take it to the next level.
He has managed to find the net once in his five appearances so far, but even if his minutes are limited, he has turned in some mature performances. Expect El Shaarawy to continue his exploits in the second half and help Milan fight for the Scudetto.
Gabriel Torje, Udinese
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Many were wondering how Udinese would respond after off-loading their prized possession Alexis Sanchez, but with the signing of Gabriel Torje, they look to have captured an adequate replacement.
Dubbed “the Romanian Messi,” the 22-year-old debuted for the Zebras back in September and quickly won over the hearts of fans. His attractive and cheeky style of play validates the association with the Barcelona striker and he has quickly adjusted to his new surroundings.
Torje is a versatile winger who is fearless on the dribble and boasts an impressive playing resume. He is also an experienced international for the Romanian national team and looks to have a permanent place in his country’s setup.
He hasn’t gotten off the mark for his new club, but is likely to break his scoring duck shortly. Udinese has emerged as a competitive squad in Serie A and the Romanian gives the fans plenty to of reasons to be optimistic.
The next slides are a visual treat for readers, as I have selected amazing compilations starring these Serie A youngsters.
First is Erik Lamela, who demonstrates his South American flair with ease.
The :22 mark is a touch of pure brilliance.
Next is Bojan, who from his video demonstrates a clinical instinct and Luis Enrique is praying for his young Spaniard to replicate some of these clips.
Skip to 2:01 to see Krkic masterfully brush aside a defender en route to a classy finish.
The elastico at 6:10 is excellent, but this performance against the Germany U-21's shows Fabbrini's true qualities as a no. 10 type player.
He can dribble, pass, shoot, swing in a cross and possesses an all-around game.
Stephan El Shaarawy
The finish at :42 seconds was scored during Padova's play-off match against Navaro last year.
With strikes like that, it shouldn't be a problem for El Shaarawy to step up for Milan
This eight minute video showcases Gabriel Torje's skills and goals for his former team Dinamo Bucurest—from last year alone.
As you can see, there is a reason Torje is hyped and is expected to become an elite footballer, and the thunderbolt at :56 backs these claims.