Player Analysis: Domenico Berardi, Italy’s Secret Weapon at Euro 2020

Throughout history, Italy as a football nation, have been often the talk of some of the greatest players to ever grace the pitch. Among the names, the three most common positions were usually identified: central defenders, central midfielders and strikers.

The one position the Azzurri have never really been famous for is skillful wingers or wide attacking players. One of the reasons lies in the fact that Italy’s style of play has been rather pragmatic and defensive for many years, meaning that Italian football academies have never really tried to develop players into wingers.

Time does not stand still, however, and even the most stubborn football cultures in terms of their historical playing styles are beginning to gradually alter their football DNA in order to adapt to the ever-changing game. Sassuolo are one of the most modern teams in Serie A concerning their playing approach; therefore, the Italian club provides a suitable environment for skillful and dynamic attacking players to flourish.

One such player who benefits from his team’s model of play is the Italian winger Domenico Berardi. The 26-year-old has been an integral part of Roberto De Zerbi’s playing philosophy, particularly in terms of a team’s attacking structure.

This scouring report, produced in collaboration with The Scouting App, takes a closer look at Berardi’s player profile, highlighting his strengths and weaknesses, as well as analyzing his performances in the 2020-21 Serie A season.

Player Overview

The modern age of football has created an environment where players are free to move from one club to another with little constraints. For this reason, it is very rare these days for a player to tie his playing career to just one club. Berardi is a pleasant exception in this case, however, as the Sassuolo winger approaches his tenth anniversary at the club.

Although the Italian has spent virtually his entire career with the Neroverdi, he was part of the Cosenza club’s youth system for two years from 2008 to 2010. Berardi moved to Sassuolo at the age of 16 and has only worn the black and green stripes since then.

His first two seasons with Sassuolo were also spent at youth level before being called up to the first team in 2012, at the age of 18. The winger took no time to settle in and immediately became one of the leaders as his 11 goals and 6 assists helped Sassuolo to promotion to Serie A that season. As an added reward for his impressive performances, Berardi was voted the best Serie B player of the season.

His two subsequent seasons in Serie A were even more impressive, despite the significantly higher level of competition. In the 2013-14 season, Berardi emerged as one of Italy’s most promising young talents as he helped Sassuolo avoid relegation with 16 goals and 6 assists. The following season confirmed that the winger is a real talent, as he repeated his success from the previous campaign, scoring 15 goals and producing an impressive 11 assists, which earned him the Serie A’s top assist provider award.

Nonetheless, maintaining the highest level of performance is a real challenge even for the best of the best, and Berardi inevitably experienced a dip in his playing form. In the following four seasons, the Italian failed to reach the ten-goal mark in Serie A, with his overall performance level plummeting quite a bit. However, Berardi returned to his best form last season as he contributed 14 goals and 10 assists to lead Sassuolo into the top ten finish. The Italian has maintained his good form into the 2020-21 season, which contributed to his transfer value rise.

Graphical representation of Berardi’s transfer value over the years. Photo:

Player Profile

Berardi is a 26-year-old left-footed winger, or wide forward depending on the terminology, who plays for Serie A club Sassuolo. The skillful and technically gifted winger just completed his eighth season in Italy’s top flight after making his debut in September 2013. In his 8 seasons in Serie A, the Italian has made a total of 233 appearances, scoring 83 goals and providing 54 assists.

Overall, Berardi is a playmaking winger whose main attributes revolve around the use of his excellent left foot when beating opponents one-on-one, creating chances for teammates and finishing off moves with left-footed shots. The Italian’s trademark cut from the right wing into the inside channel onto his left foot is considered the basis of his style of play. In a 4-2-3-1 system played by Sassuolo, Berardi is deployed as a right winger, as seen in the image below.

Berardi’s most common playing positions and the 2020-21 season heat map. Photo:

As a winger, Berardi is practically a complete package in terms of his player profile and attacking output. The Italian’s playmaking abilities, however, stand out among a whole list of his qualities at a high level. One of the most creative wide forwards in the league, Berardi averages 4.78 shot-creating and 0.62 goal-creating actions per 90 minutes – both well above the Serie A average. Such an effective performance in terms of chance creation is a result of his outstanding ability to play different types of passes. The Sassuolo winger has a wide passing range, including low diagonal passes between the lines, through balls and floating balls over the opposition’s defensive line.

The Italian has an incredible ability to play a defense splitting pass into the danger area

In addition to this, running with the ball and carrying it for long distances is essential for any winger. This is especially the case when a team recovers the ball in their own half and plays it wide, where a winger is usually isolated. Berardi’s ability to carry the ball in a progressive manner is worth noting, as the Sassuolo winger averages 8.80 progressive carries per 90 minutes (Serie A avg. 6.25), for a total progressive carrying distance of 156.38 yards (Serie A avg. 122.46). This brings us to the next point that Berardi is more apt to beat the opposing player when he runs at him with speed than he is when using a static dribble to beat a man.

Berardi receives the ball on the half turn and spins away from the opposition player
Berardi races away from two opposition players

Last but not least, what makes Berardi a near perfect package, if nothing else, is his striker quality. One area where most wingers are severely lacking is their ability to score goals, and the Sassuolo winger delivers more than solidly in this department. At the time of writing, Berardi is the Neroverdi’s top scorer with 14 goals (9 non-penalty goals), possessing a great eye for goal from both inside and outside of the penalty area.

Berardi makes a striker-like run into the box and scores with a half-volley

Serie A 2020-21 Season

Berardi’s near completeness as a winger is well supported by some of the key performance indicators. His ability to influence the game by carrying the ball for long distances has already been mentioned, but another equally or even more impressive area of his performance is the creative output in terms of passing.

The 26-year-old winger is Sassuolo’s main creative force from the right side, usually cutting inside to the center zones to play dangerous balls into forward areas. In this regard, Berardi is one of the best in the league, outperforming the Serie A average in some metrics by leaps and bounds. The Italian shows tremendous quality in progressive passes (avg. 6.32 per 90 min) and passes into the penalty area (avg. 3.58 per 90 min), as well as solid numbers in key passes (avg. 2.08 per 90 min) and through balls (avg. 0.22 per 90 min).

In terms of offensive output (goals and assists), Berardi has returned to the impressive form he showed in his early days at Sassuolo, averaging 0.62 goals (0.40 non-penalty goals) and 0.22 assists per game this season. Although 5 of his 14 Serie A goals have been penalties, the Italian winger records above-average non-penalty expected goals (npxG) figure of 0.28. Overall, a combination value of 0.46 for non-penalty expected goals (npxG) and expected assists (xA) perfectly sums up Berardi’s eye for goals and assists.

Statistical analysis of Berardi’s performances in 2020-21 Serie A season


All in all, Berardi is a truly unique talent considering his nationality and playing profile. The Sassuolo winger bears resemblance to players like Riyad Mahrez or Hakim Ziyech – left footers with slender physique who like to cut inside from the right and shoot on goal or link up with other forward players. Such a specific player profile is unique and incredibly rare in Italian football culture, making Berardi stand out among the Azzurri’s other attacking options.