Mario Sampirisi: Why Chelsea & Manchester United Are Chasing Italy's Next Best Defender

Mario Sampiris is the former Milan youth team player now come good following a move to Genoa. Here's why Chelsea and Manchester United are tracking one of Europe's hottest young right backs....
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Mario Sampiris is the former Milan youth team player now come good following a move to Genoa. Here's why Chelsea and Manchester United are tracking one of Europe's hottest young right backs....

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Mario Sampiris is the former Milan youth team player now come good following a move to Genoa. Here's why Chelsea and Manchester United are tracking one of Europe's hottest young right backs.

Sometimes a move to a smaller club can be the best way a younger player can launch themselves into the big time.  Mario Sampirisi, having come through the AC Milan youth ranks as a right-sided midfielder, has now flourished since his move to Genoa at the start of last season he and a switch to right-back. The tactical switch has worked wonders, especially now the youngster, who turns 20 on October 31st has gained a few extra centimetres in height and began to fill out his formerly slender frame.

There was no doubting the player’s potential at Milan where he was a regular in the side that won the Italian Youth Cup and reached the championship play-offs, but the Rossoneri staff felt that unlike another member of that side, Mattia Di Sciglio, the Sicilian was not yet equipped for the step up to the first team midfield.

There was no doubting the player’s potential at Milan where he was a regular in the side that won the Italian Youth Cup and reached the championship play-offs.

However, Italian clubs do not like to let young talent go to waste and when it comes to loaning out or selling part of a player’s contract to another club they will attempt to get the best out of the situation for all parties concerned.

Milan have an excellent relationship with Genoa and the Milanese giants have benefited immensely from the signings of Stephan El Shaarawy and Kevin Prince Boateng; although the jury is still out on another Kevin: Constant. Genoa had previously taken Alexander Merkel onboard with the proviso from Milan that the midfielder be given a more attacking role to develop the young German’s all-round game.

When it came to Sampirisi, who was used in part exchange for the promising Portuguese midfielder Pelè (who has since been loaned out to Ukrainian side Arsenal Kyiv), the coaching staff from both clubs convened to discuss the player’s best position, leading to his deployment on the right side of defence.

Standing at over 6ft, the Italy Under-20 international is no overlapping full-back, ready to dash the full length of the pitch in the manner of an Ignazio Abate – who too had started his career as a midfielder – but is instead a thoughtful passer with excellent positional sense.

He made his breakthrough at the turn of the year in a struggling side, making his debut on the receiving  end of a 5-3 defeat before going on to celebrating a win over top-three chasing Napoli in  his following game. The step-up from the relatively benign world of youth football to the intense theatre of Serie A can take its toil and injuries restricted his appearances to two more by the end of the campaign.

Sampirisi’s rapid growth in stature has gone hand in hand with a growing maturity, with him beginning to pair some of the dark arts of defending to go with his silky skills – and he has now started seven of nine matches so far this season.

Standing at over 6ft, the Italy Under-20 international is no overlapping full-back. Instead, he is a thoughtful passer with excellent positional sense.

Last weekend brought him back home to the San Siro and up against Stephan El Shaarawy, one of the hottest attacking talents in the Italian game.  Although there are only five days between their birthdays - and the Pharaoh El Shaarawy netted the winner late on - it was Sampirisi who looked the more mature figure with a very assured performance in once more a side unable to find any consistency and featuring  new coach, Gigi Delneri, in charge for the first time.

There is no doubt that Sampirisi is far from the finished product but already in his short career he is impressing with every outing, demonstrating versatility and technical ability to take him a long way in the game.

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