A lot has happened for Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa in the last couple of months. The 20-year-old suffered the death of his Captain and mentor Davide Astori at the beginning of March, something that must’ve been extremely tough for someone so young to deal with.
“The Coach Stefano Pioli was pale, tears in his eyes, he almost couldn’t say Davide’s name,” said Riccardo Saponara in reference to the day Astori was found dead. “He hugged us. One by one. Chiesa was still asleep, unaware of what was happening. When he was told, I heard noises as if his room was being turned inside out.”
Chiesa – the son of former Fiorentina striker Enrico – had little time to grieve for this terrible event, the team back in action at home to Benevento just one week later. Undoubtedly still with his thoughts on what happened, the youngster was deservedly called up to the Italy squad by interim boss Gigi Di Biagio, and would make his senior debut in Manchester just 19 days after Astori passed away in a friendly versus Argentina.
Just like his father, Federico certainly has a future for the Azzurri and his performances since making his debut for the Viola in August 2016 have led to other sides looking at his potential, despite the talented winger having signed a new deal as recently as November.
“I don’t know,” said Chiesa when asked about his long-term future in Tuscany by Corriere dello Sport. “Because I am focused on training and the weekend’s game, so I don’t look beyond the fixture list. The rest will come when it comes.” His statements will hardly provide comfort for those who want him to stay at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but equally they show that he seems to be concentrated on the immediate future.
After scoring three goals and providing two assists in 17 starts last season, Chiesa has been given a lead role in the team this term by Stefano Pioli. The 20-year-old has already notched up 29 appearances in 2017/18, weighing in with six goals and assisting team-mates on three occasions already. Such improvement may not be dramatic, but shows the kind of steady improvement that his Coach will no doubt be looking for.
If any of those interested parties were present in the Viola’s 0-0 stalemate with SPAL on Sunday lunchtime, they would have seen just what a quality player this young man is. He may not have registered on the scoresheet, but is showing a new-found maturity in the way that he plays, meaning that an increase in his return cannot be far away.
Statistics reveal that Chiesa connected with 17 from 24 of his passes in the attacking third of the pitch, creating no less than four clear-cut chances for his team-mates. He would also complete the highest number of take ons – four from seven attempted – of anyone on the field that day, and even helped out defensively with one opposition cross blocked.
The effectiveness of his crossing still clearly needs work, with only one successful from eight attempts, and he is often guilty of shooting when there is a clear pass to be made to a team-mate. On Sunday he was dispossessed twice by the hard-working SPAL defence, but this is only to be expected from a player who already has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Anyone who watches him can see exactly what a bright spark he is, and any attention he has garnered is entirely deserved.
It remains to be seen whether a team with a larger budget will swoop this summer, but the Viola ownership seem less keen to let him go then they did with Federico Bernardeschi. Another winger, the Carrara-native was sold to Juventus for €40 million last summer, but Chiesa seems more settled in Florence – at least for now.
“Can Chiesa become a ‘bandiera’ [club icon] or will he be sold like Bernardeschi? I don’t know,” said Pioli to Rai Radio recently. “What I can say is that he’s grown a lot, he’s made great strides and he can become very important for this club.”
In truth, Federico Chiesa is already important at Fiorentina, especially after a fire-sale last summer saw many players sold that fans had become attached to. If last Sunday’s match is anything to go by, this young winger is certainly one to watch out for in the remaining matches of the 2017/18 Serie A campaign.
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