Diaz and Five Serie A Stars Who Are Defying the Odds This Season

With every new campaign, several players fail to live up to the high expectations laid upon their shoulders. But on the other hand, some manage to overachieve and cement themselves as unlikely protagonists by exceeding all expectations. So let’s identify six Serie A players who have thus far defied the odds while putting up memorable performances in the first part of the season.

6 – Adrien Rabiot (Juventus)

After three underwhelming campaigns, Juventus fans were eager to see the back of Adrien Rabiot when Manchester United came knocking on the door last summer.

Nonetheless, his mother/agent Veronique had some hefty demands, to say the least, and the Red Devils were unable to satisfy her.

However, the collapsed transfer arguably turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Old Lady, with the midfielder finally cementing himself as an integral member of Massimiliano Allegri’s starting eleven.

Even though he still has some improvement to make in order to fulfill his initial promise, Rabiot’s swift turnaround from wantaway to protagonist has been remarkable.

5 – Antonio Candreva (Salenitana)

When Antonio Candreva made the switch from Sampdoria to Salernitana, it was deemed to be the veteran’s last hurrah before bowing out of the game – reminiscently to his recently-retired teammate Franck Ribery.

But unlike the Frenchman, the former Lazio and Inter winger still has some fuel in the tank, and his industrious performances do not show his 35 years, with his recent exploits against the Biancocelesti showcasing his enduring class.

Each player on the list has been defying the odds in a certain manner, and in Candreva’s case, father time is his conquered foe – at least for the moment.

4 – Gerard Deulofeu (Udinese)

Throughout his career, Gerard Deulofeu has represented various top clubs, including Barcelona, Sevilla, Everton and Milan. However, his career has been a rollercoaster with numerous highs and lows.

But every time the world decides to give up on the Spaniard, he surges back in fury. This season, the 28-year-old is arguably displaying some of the best football of his career, leading the charge for Udinese who are embroiled in an unexpected battle for European spots.

Deulofeu always had magic in his feet, but this term, he’s becoming considerably more efficient, producing two goals and six assists in his 13 Serie A outings thus far.

3 – Christian Kouamé (Fiorentina)

For a short while in 2018/19, Genoa possessed the most sought after attacking duo in Serie A in the form of Krzysztof Piatek and Christian Kouamé. Unfortunately for both men, their careers went downhill afterwards.

In the Ivorian’s case, a serious injury hampered his progress, and he became a forgotten member of Fiorentina’s squad in the last couple of years.

Nonetheless, Vincenzo Italiano decided to bet on the 24-year-old after returning from a loan spell, and luckily for the Tuscans, the forward has been repaying the manager’s faith with some sublime performances.

For now, he has three goals and seven assists to his name in all competitions, as he continues to defy the odds with his unlikely career resurgence.

2 – Stanislav Lobotka (Napoli)

After two and half years spent mostly on the bench, few would have imagined that Stanislav Lobotka will ever become the main architect behind what has arguably become the most terrifying Napoli side witnessed since the glory days of Diego Armando Maradona.

Yet, the departure of Fabian Ruiz was apparently the opening that he needed, and a slight tactical tweak from Luciano Spalletti’s part did the trick.

Today, the Slovakian might just be the best deep-lying playmaker (otherwise known as a Regista) in Serie A.

What a massive turnaround!

From Afterthought to Stalwart: How Spalletti Resurrected Lobotka

1 – Brahim Diaz (Milan)

As we mentioned above, every player on the list has been overcoming a certain mighty opponent – whether it’s age, injuries or other personal dilemmas.

But in Brahim Diaz’s case, his foe is made from flesh and blood. A tall, talented, flashy Belgian who landed in Milano expecting to claim an immediate starting berth.

Of course we’re talking about Charles De Ketelaere, the brilliant attacking midfielder which Milan spent an entire summer chasing.

Naturally, Brahim was supposed to be the obvious sacrificial lamb. After all, the Spaniard had been struggling for form and playing time by the end of the previous campaign.

But in an unforeseen twist of events, it’s the new signing who’s now starving for minutes, while Diaz has reignited his prowess, cementing himself as one of the most devastating attacking midfielders in Serie A.

But as we all know, the former Real Madrid man has struggled for consistency in the past. So will he finally be able to vanquish his longtime ferocious foe?

Only time will tell.

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