If you were to think of the latest Serie A exports to succeed on the international stage, light tricky wingers would not be too far up the list, but Federico Bernardeschi could be the beginning of a change in culture.
This young fleet-footed winger currently plying his trade for Scudetto-chasing Fiorentina is a refreshing sight in the Italian game. Bernardeschi always looks to get at his man and create for others, he is a talent that is raising interest among some of the games more elite clubs.
Born in the city of Carrara, home to another famous Italian football patron - Gianluigi Buffon - he joined local team Atletico Carrara before moving to La Viola’s youth team.
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After showing potential in the youth team, Bernardeschi was loaned to Crotone where his contribution led to a play-off run for the club. During this time, the young winger contributed ten goals and showed a more developed understanding of when to take up a correct position and drive at his opponent - skills he has brought back to Tuscany with him.
High hopes upon his return were soon dashed by various injuries but this season under new manager Paulo Sosa has seen the young man come to the fore and take on the mantle of those creative players from Fiorentina’s yesteryears. He's become a regular under Sosa and is helping push the club up the table into league title contention.
Strengths and style of play
He has been used in a number of positions by the current manager and each one he has taken on like a duck to water. The tactical maturity of his game is a genuine delight and the willingness to work for the team and contribute alongside his natural skill will see Federico performing on the largest of stages.
The 22-year-old penchant is for the central areas of the field but he has been just as effective from his wide right role. After watching the young man develop this season, there is no argument he could fit into numerous tactical schemes including on the right hand side of either an attacking three or a four-man midfield and he could also drift in-behind the striker.
The willingness of the manager to play the Italian in multiple positions as helped the young man grasp what it is needed to be successful at the top level and he shows no lack of desire and heart when completing his defensive duties either.
The only real decision going forward is where Bernardeschi sees himself playing. As with any young player, there is room to develop his game - in this case it is his composure in front of goal - but with more playing time there is no reason he cannot become a household name.
Teammate David Astori believes Bernadeschi is set for the top but has encouraged him to stay at Fiorentina for the immediate future to hone his craft.
He's going to be [good enough for Barcelona]," Astori told Gazzetta dello Sport, as per ESPN, in December.
"We were joking with him about it yesterday, asking him to say 'hi' to [Lionel] Messi from us. He's got talent and the right head on his shoulders, and he's improving gradually."
If he continues along his current path it may be sooner rather than later Federico is saying "Ciao" to Messi.
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