7 Juventus Youngsters Who Could Taste 1st-Team Action in 2016/17 Season

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistJune 4, 2016

VIAREGGIO, ITALY - MARCH 30:  Guido Nahuel Vadala (L) of Juventus is celebrated after scoring his team's second goal (penalty) during the Viareggio Juvenile Tournament match between FC Juventus and US Citta di Palermo on March 30, 2016 in Viareggio, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Juventus have only just begun. Even as the Bianconeri completed a second successive league and cup double last month, the message coming loud and clear from Turin was that the club was planning to extend their dominance for years to come.

Even as his team left the field following their Coppa Italia victory, coach Massimiliano Allegri told a press conference that his side was looking forward to the 2016/17 campaign "which will present new challenges, namely the fight for a sixth straight Scudetto, retaining the Coppa Italia and performing well in the UEFA Champions League."

In order to do so, the Juventus hierarchy has already begun work on improving the options available to Allegri, including the addition of 18-year-old midfielder Rolando Mandragora, a signing discussed in this previous post.

Paolo Giovannini/Associated Press

Further to that, director general Beppe Marotta revealed in an interview with Tuttosport that he plans to continue the same strategy he has employed since joining the Turin giants back in May 2010.

"If we're dominating now, it's precisely because we always did our best to keep a compact group," Marotta said last week (h/t Football Italia). "Except for certain specific situations and cases when it was inevitable."

If the acquisition of Mandragora hinted at Juve’s commitment to youth, the club official then went on to say that "we know we have to gradually bring down the average age of our defence, which let it be said, delivered an exceptional service so far and can still guarantee it."

As such, what follows—in no particular order—is a look at seven young players from within the club who could make an appearance for the first team during the 2016/17 and what impact they might have over the course of next season.

Andrea Favilli

Unlike many of the other names listed here, Andrea Favilli has already made his first-team debut for Juventus, drafted in earlier this year after a string of injuries left Allegri with a lack of options in attack.

The 19-year-old striker was brought on as a late substitute in the match against Frosinone back in February, partly as a reward for his impressive form with the club’s Primavera (under-19s) side where he weighed in with 20 goals and eight assists in 32 appearances.

Pol Lirola

Arguably the player here best placed for a sustained spell with the first team, Spain native Pol Lirola has impressed many observers of the youth sector since joining the Bianconeri from Espanyol in July 2015.

The 18-year-old told Juve’s in-house television station JTV (h/t La Gazzetta dello Sport, link in Italian) that he sees Stephan Lichtsteiner as a role model and hopes to one day reach the standard set by the Switzerland international.

In 36 appearances for the Primavera this term, Lirola has showcased a superb defensive attitude and ability to read the game while also contributing three goals and eight assists to prove his quality when joining the attack.

As they seek a long-term understudy to eventually succeed his hero Lichtsteiner in Allegri’s first XI, Juventus could do much worse than handing the man from Mollet del Valles in Catalonia an opportunity to earn that spot.

Luca Clemenza

One of the breakout stars of the Bianconeri youth sector this term, Luca Clemenza shot to prominence during the first few months of 2015/16 before missing the second half of the campaign with torn ligaments.

Able to play anywhere in attack and even fill in as a midfielder if necessary, the 18-year-old contributed 14 goals and three assists in all competitions and will be eager to get back into action once he has recovered from his current injury.

Filippo Romagna

Already captain of the club’s under-19s, Filippo Romagna may get a first-team opportunity in the coming months thanks to his consistency, maturity and versatility. Able to play as a central defender or even in midfield, the diligence and tactical intelligence of the 19-year-old Italian have arguably shone brightly enough to see him as a reserve for Juve’s more established defenders.

Guido Vadala

Chile's Palestino goalkeeper Dario Melo (R) stops a kick from Argentina's Boca Juniors forward Guido Vadala (C) during the Copa Libertadores 2015 group 5 football match, at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / AL

A major decision awaits Juventus regarding the future of Guido Vadala. According to a press release on the club's official website, they will pay €3.5 million to loan the Argentina native—who arrived as part of the deal that saw Carlos Tevez return to Boca Juniors—until December 2017.

Yet they can also invest a further €9.4 million to make that move permanent and may well be tempted to do so after seeing him turn in some stellar performances in their famous black and white striped shirts.

Featuring either as a winger or support striker in his 32 appearances for the Bianconeri, 19-year-old Vadala has so far weighed in with six goals and six assists, his direct style perhaps something the first team has lacked in recent seasons.

Mattia Vitale

While attacking talent like Vadala and Clemenza often dominates the headlines, Mattia Vitale has quietly established himself as a major prospect for Juventus. The 18-year-old midfielder has a no-frills style but made two first-team appearances, drawing praise from Allegri during an interview last season.

"He is a very interesting player," the coach told the official UEFA website. "He can play as a box-to-box midfielder or just ahead of the defence. He will grow by training and playing with the first team."

However, the left-footed Vitale was sent on loan to Virtus Lanciano in January and made 19 appearances for the Serie B side. Should Juventus look to offload their plethora of underperforming midfielders—a matter discussed in this previous post—he may yet get the chance to prove he is worthy of replacing them.

Moise Kean

If players like Vitale and Lirola could prove to be valuable homegrown reserves, then there is little doubt that Moise Kean remains the biggest prospect among the current members of the Juventus Primavera.

The 16-year-old has already made a surprisingly far-reaching impact with both the Bianconeri and Italy’s international youth sides over recent months, his size and strength often making him look like a man among boys.

MANZANO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 16:  Bioty Moise Kean of Italy U17 celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the international friendly match between Italy U17 and Serbia U17 at Stadio Comunale  on February 16, 2016 in Manzano, Italy.  (Photo by Di
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Standing 6' (1.82 m) tall and predominantly right-footed, he told La Gazzetta dello Sport (link in Italian) back in January that his biggest strengths are his pace, aerial ability and his accurate shooting.

Those attributes are obvious to anyone who has seen the impressive forward—who also has Ivorian heritage—take to the field, and Juve have been unafraid to send him into action against much older players.

His record of 19 goals in just 21 under-17 appearances hints at the raw talent Kean possesses, while he also needed just 26 minutes of action to find the net in his one Primavera (U19) Cup outing.

Meanwhile, his performances for the Azzurri began with two goals in six games for the U15s. Kean followed that up with three in his four U16 appearances, and he has already bagged another five in eight U17 matches.

A client of Mino Raiola, Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star has noted that the player has drawn the interest of both Manchester United and Manchester City, but Juventus will hope to see him continue to blossom in Turin.


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