Manchester City Target Pedro Obiang & 9 Other Serie A Young Guns To Keep An Eye On
Pedro Obiang (Sampdoria)
Sampdoria's fortunes plummeted in the 10/11 season; after securing Champions League football the season before under Gigi Delneri, the Blucerciati dramatically missed out on qualifying for the group stages and were then relegated to Serie B that season. Whilst some of their top stars left for pastures new, it gave some of the younger players a chance to make an impression, and Pedro Obiang was the one player who took full advantage, establishing himself at one of the most talented young midfielders in the country. The Spanish U19 international is incredibly raw, but is physically dominant and is improving with every game he plays and perfectly complements the creative Andrea Poli in Samp's midfield. It is easy to see why English clubs, most notably Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, are interested in him, and he's certainly a player to keep an eye on.
Stephan El Shaarawy (Milan)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure to PSG left an unenviable hole to fill in the Milan frontline, but the young striker has stepped up to the plate, already scoring 14 goals in this, his first season of regular first-team football at the San Siro. It is no exaggeration to claim that, without El Shaarawy’s goals, Milan would be languishing just outside the relegation zone. The kid dubbed Il Faraone has single-handedly led the Rossoneri to the knockout stages of the Champions League and up in to the top half of Serie A, and has already opened his goalscoring account for the national team. He is definitely the breakout star of this season.
Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
Zdenek Zeman’s glorious return to Serie A has been one of the most entertaining things to watch in Calcio this season, but it was all made possible by his success at Pescara over the past two seasons; they won Serie B last season thanks to the form of Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne, Napoli’s exciting left winger. Insigne, a diminutive forward, is extremely quick and skilful, and has performed admirably filling in for the departed Ezequiel Lavezzi as Napoli attempt to return to the Champions League. He made his national team debut in September and if he continues to develop in Naples it won’t be long before the whole of Europe knows his name.
Erik Lamela (Roma)
The talented Argentine arrived last summer with a hefty €17m price tag to live up to, and impressed in flashes under Luis Enrique and then Vicenzo Montella, but he has really blossomed this season in a more attacking system under Zdenek Zeman, already scoring eight goals this season, which is more than he scored in his previous campaign. A typically dynamic, technically gifted attacking midfielder, Lamela has become an integral part of this Roma side that have plenty of talented attackers at their disposal. The Giallorossi are competing for a top three finish, and Lamela is a player who deserves to showcase his talents in European competition.
Paulo Dybala (Palermo)
Those familiar with Calcio will know all about Maurizio Zamparini, the eccentric Palermo president, who is known for bizarre proclamations and being trigger-happy with his coaches. However, he is also a very astute businessman, and his handling of the Javier Pastore deal to PSG has financed every transfer window since. He spent a substantial fee to lure Dybala to Sicily (reportedly around €15m) and proclaimed that he had signed the next Aguero. Whilst such comparisons don't help the young forward, it is understandable to see why he's held in such high regard; Dybala has all the tools to become a very special player indeed. Still only 18, he has already made a positive impact in the appearances he's made so far, and if he continues to develop over the next few years Zamparini will have another big payday when he sells him to one of Europe's elite.
Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Pogba left Manchester United in the summer to join the Scudetto champions, and has since proved why Ferguson was wrong not to agree a new deal with the French midfielder. He has not played every week as he finds himself behind Pirlo, Marchisio and Vidal in the pecking order, but when called upon his has performed extremely well, and Juventini are excited about the player he will become. His physical and technical attributes are frighteningly good for a teenager, and he is the sort of player that Manchester United sorely lack in their midfield. Purists can’t help but claim he is the next Patrick Vieira given his playing style and the fact that both played for the Bianconeri, but such lofty expectations are understandable given the raw talent of both players.
Mattia De Sciglio (Milan)
It was the end of an era in Milan this summer as more than an entire first eleven - most notably players like Nesta,Silva, Zambrotta, Seedorf, Gattuso, Inzaghi and Ibrahimovic - departed the club; it was out with the old and in the with the new. Milan were forced to look to their youth ranks for Leading the way is Mattia De Sciglio, the young full back who has been the Rossoneri's most consistent defender this year. Not a typical modern full back who enjoys marauding forward, Di Sciglio is a cultured defender whose reading of the game and positional sense bely his age and inexperience, similar to the outgoing Gianluca Zambrotta. Max Allegri will need other players to step up like Di Sciglio have if his side are too have any chance of securing Champions League football again next year.
Mario Sampirisi (Genoa)
It has been a miserable season for the Rossoblu as they find themselves in the bottom three in Serie A, but the form of Sampirisi has been one of the positives to take away. The Milan youth product has put in a string of assured performances and made the right-back spot his own this season, attracting admiring glances from the country’s biggest clubs. Only recently turned 20, Sampirisi’s all round game is outstanding for such a young player and, along with his ex-Milan Primavera teammate, Mattia De Sciglio, look to be the future of the Azzurri’s full back spots for at least the next decade.
Alessandro Florenzi (Roma)
Born and raised in the capital, Florenzi is a product of Roma's youth academy and has benefitted - as many young players have - from Zdenek Zeman's willingness to give them a chance, featuring in all but one of their league games this season and his form has been impressive. There have been periods of inconsistency, which is understandable given the demands on the midfielders in Zeman's system, but he has scored and created his fair share of goals. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by Cesare Prandelli, and he made his debut for the Azzurri in the last international break. Fans always love a local lad, none moreso than in the capital, and Florenzi should be a regular in the side for the forseeable future.
Mattia Perin (Pescara)
Italy have a long lineage of exceptional goalkeepers, and there is a real burgeoning sense of excitement surrounding Mattia Perin, the Genoa 'keeper on loan at Pescara. A regular at all youth levels for La Nazionale, the Delfini's struggles have ensured that he has been given plenty of practice this season, and his performances have been extremely encouraging; he doesn't look at all out of place playing in Serie A. Assured in all aspects of his game, at 20 he's still in the infancy of his goalkeeping career, but if he continues to prosper then Italy could have their potential heir to Gigi Buffon. Certainly one to watch.