Best upcoming central midfielders in Serie A


Differently from other positions, there is no shortage of excellent young central midfielders in Serie A. Besides Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who is among the league’s best outright, there are several upcoming players who have already earned primary roles in the top teams.

Unsurprisingly, two of them were raised by Atalanta and then moved to bigger clubs. Roberto Gagliardini joined Inter last January and his consistency has been a pleasant surprise, because he was lost in the shuffle prior to the 2016/2017 season. Gian Piero Gasperini trusted him, the Nerazzurri nabbed him quickly and he has been very reliable: he is not flashy, but an all-around midfielder, whose work is always precious. Franck Kessie is more muscular and explosive, but Milan got what they hoped for: a dominating presence in the middle of the field. Lucas Torreira’s play in the last two seasons has been superb: he is rather tiny but he is imposing in both phases, he has great feet and he is an excellent distributor. His full arsenal was on display in the last win over Chievo Verona.

In the second tier, we find players that are not regulars, but have still managed to make an impact in the biggest clubs. Piotr Zielinski is basically Napoli’s twelfth man: a very classy player who can solve a game with his runs through the middle and is no stranger to scoring stunners. Amadou Diawara is Jorginho’s backup, but he is only 20 and plays well beyond his age: his upside his enormous. The same goes for the next two: Roma have a gem in Lorenzo Pellegrini, whom they brought back after a great stint at Sassuolo, and he is starting to carve minutes despite having two world class players like Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman ahead of him. Very dynamic, he is best known for his offensive contribution. Rodrigo Bentancur joined Juventus this summer after a very forward-looking move years ago: he was quickly thrusted into the lineup because of injuries and has proved to be a dependable passer.

There is a crop of young Italian midfielders who are making a name for themselves. Daniele Baselli is a little older, but he has grown a lot in the past calendar year: he has always had quality and finishing skills, but when Sinisa Mihajlovic slightly tweaked Torino’s system he has been grittier and therefore more complete. His former teammate Marco Benassi was initially miscast at Fiorentina, but he has scored thrice in a row since moving to his usual box-to-box position: he is very generous. Bryan Cristante lost a couple of seasons because of bad moves, but, like many others, he has found his niche at Atalanta, where at times he features in a more advanced position, so he can thrive because of his pin-point timing on the cuts. Because of his age, Cagliari’s Nicolò Barella the most exciting prospect: very energetic, he has a knack for scoring as well. The final two, Rolando Mandragora and Stefano Sensi, are getting playing time in Serie A for the first time this year at Crotone and Sassuolo: they have been up and down, but time is on their side.

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