2019/20 has been a year full of surprises. From the three horse title race to the wide open chase for the coveted Europa League spots, fans have been blessed with plenty this season to savor. But, in between everything transpiring in the league table, it has truly been an exciting time for breakout stars to come to the forefront, enter the limelight and make a real name for themselves in a league already brimming with talent. Even more so than earning domestic recognition is how these rising stars are gaining notoriety across the continent.
Here are five of the best breakout stars non-calcio fans should become acquainted with.
Jeremie Boga (winger, Sassuolo) – Having previously played in England, Spain and France, Italy is where Jeremie Boga has found great comfort and career stability. Though the Marseille-born Ivorian attacker arrived at Sassuolo on a permanent basis from Chelsea in 2018, this current 2019/20 campaign is where Boga has seemingly begun to put it all together. Averaging over 4 successful dribbles per game, the 23-year old is arguably the league’s best and most efficient in this category, only he provides more than just flair with plenty of end product. Currently with 7 goals and 2 assists to his name, Chelsea would be wise to use their cost-effective redemption this summer on a player who is tailor made for a big move back to Stamford Bridge.
Dejan Kulusevski (winger, Parma) – In a matter of months, Dejan Kulusevski went from a largely unknown Atalanta youth product to a standout Parma loanee and now most recently Juventus’ latest star signing at €35m. The teenage Swede has marvelled just about everywhere he has played on the pitch for manager Roberto D’Aversa, though out wide on the right is where he has thrived the most. With a combined 12 goal contributions (5 goals, 7 assists), the languid, technical playmaker offers a bevy of talents in his arsenal that are largely to credit for Parma being a legitimate EL contender and why his next career move lies in Turin.
Sandro Tonali (midfielder, Brescia) – Dubbed ‘the next Andrea Pirlo’ for his his physical traits, aesthetic and overall style of play, Brescia’s young midfield sensation Sandro Tonali is proving to be every bit as advertised. Entering his first full season in top flight football, the shaggy haired regista had involuntarily adopted the lofty expectations of becoming Italy’s next big star, though it was simply unfair to bestow upon him such pressure at his young age. Still, despite the Lombardia side’s ongoing relegation battle, the teenager has risen to the occasion. Over 22 appearances, Tonali’s dictation of play, sleek ball control, ability to dribble and confidence has been the talk of Italy and will continue to throughout the summer as top clubs circle like sharks for his rumored €50m signature.
Gaetano Castrovilli (midfielder, Fiorentina) – Prior to this season, Federico Chiesa was the talk of Florence, and rightfully so. However, an argument can be made Gaetano Castrovilli has overtaken him as Fiorentina’s top young talent in the squad. Previously plying his trade in Serie B at Bari and Cremonese, the Italian swiftly asserted himself as a rising star first under Vincenzo Montella and now with Gisueppe Iachini. Boasting a versatile skill-set, the 22-year old box-to-box midfielder can beat you with a dribble (averaging 3.1 per game) in 1v1 situations, has the eye to pick his pass and progress the ball forward. Along with Tonali, Castrovilli has also made his Azzurri debut, making him one of the hottest names to watch for come Euro 2020 selection time.
Riccardo Orsolini (winger, Bologna) – Upon make a rapid, steep climb from Ascoli to Juventus in 2017, Orsolini attracted a lot of hype. After a disappointing loan spell at Atalanta, there were some questions about just how high his ceiling was. However, those questions surrounding his talent have been emphatically addressed ever since joining Bologna where he has begun to tie up loose ends and become a highly-sought after attacker once again. Since the beginning of 2018/19, the 23-year old has 15 goals and 9 assists, directly involved in a goal roughly every 150 minutes. Juventus have a chance to sign him back for €26m in the summer, and will strongly consider it especially if he can sneak his way into Roberto Mancini’s Euro squad.
Honorable Mentions - Musa Barrow (Bologna), Ismaël Bennacer (AC Milan), Bartłomiej Dragowski (Fiorentina), Marash Kumbulla (Verona), Sofyan Amrabat (Verona), Robin Gosens (Atalanta), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Seko Fofana (Udinese)
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