The last six years have seen Juventus enjoy incredible success, winning four consecutive Serie A titles, reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League and lifting the Coppa Italia for a record 10th time.
Few men have played a bigger role in that sustained dominance than director general Beppe Marotta, overseeing the club’s transfer activity astutely since arriving in the summer of 2010.
Arguably the only area he has yet to improve significantly is the club’s ability to develop stars from within their own youth sector, something he insisted in one of his first interviews with the Juventus channel.
“Our objective for the future is to create a Juve in the style of Barcelona,” Marotta said (h/t Football Italia). “It takes instinct to find the most promising players and bring them to Vinovo, but also courage to give them a debut in the first team.”
It must be noted that the club has enjoyed on-field success with its under-19 side, winning the prestigious Viareggio Tournament twice and the Italian cup once under the guidance of the current management.
But putting that—and the club’s willingness to field young talent from other clubs—aside, Juventus have still yet to bring a home-grown player into coach Massimiliano Allegri’s squad on a permanent basis.
The likes of Federico Mattiello and Mattia Vitale have made fleeting appearances, but perhaps the most likely to make that leap is Moise Kean. Born in the town of Vercelli to the north-east of Turin, he has rapidly progressed through the ranks since he joined the Bianconeri, constantly playing above his age group.
This season—despite still only being a 15-year-old—he has been a regular in the club’s under-17s side, netting 17 goals in 16 appearances. Taking up either the central role in attack or starting on the left flank, Kean boasts a stunning blend of pace and power while also being far more physical than those around him.
Standing 6' (1.82 m) tall and predominantly right-footed, he told La Gazzetta dello Sport (link in Italian) last month that his biggest strengths are his pace, aerial ability and his accurate shooting, attributes that are immediately apparent when watching him play.
Kean has also been drafted in Juve’s Primavera (U19s) side on a number of occasions, with coach Fabio Grosso including the striker in his squad for the UEFA Youth League this term. He remained an unused substitute in the 2-1 victory over Manchester City but did make a brief appearance against Sevilla in December.
That was followed by another late cameo in the domestic league against Virtus Entella this month, just days before his most notable contribution to date. Sent on in the 64th minute of a cup tie against Fiorentina, the Bianconeri were holding a narrow 2-1 lead, and Kean immediately helped the side protect their lead.
Doing a diligent job of holding up the ball and harassing defenders, Francesco Cassata’s injury-time pass presented him with the opening he had waited for, nudging the ball beyond the goalkeeper to cement Juve’s place in the final.
It was a performance that shows he can perform at the next level, and he will hopefully continue that progress. Despite his Ivorian heritage, Kean has made the decision to represent the Italian national team and has also made steady progress at various levels in the Azzurri shirt.
He began with two goals in six games for the U15s, managed three in his four U16 appearances and already has two in three matches for the U17s, including the effort shown above in an excellent 1-1 draw with Spain.
Kean has already begun to attract attention across the continent, employing Mino Raiola to act as his agent and reportedly drawing the interest of Manchester United, according to Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star, and Manchester City (per the Daily Mail, h/t Turrell).
Juventus hope to sign him to a long-term deal when he turns 16 at the end of this month, and Moise Kean may yet be the player who helps the Old Lady put faith in the young talent she possesses, just as Beppe Marotta promised.