In recent years, Calcio fans have grown accustomed to seeing some of the league’s finest stars leaving the Italian Peninsula, heading towards financially greener pastures. But thankfully, a new wave of talent emerges on the scene with every new campaign, offering a refreshing sight for a somewhat frustrated fanbase. Thus, it’s time to form a Best XI formation comprised of Serie A players Under the age of 21. This list mostly features starlets who have just announced themselves on the big stage since the start of the season, but also a few who had already made names for themselves in previous campaigns.
Notes: Players who already celebrated their 21st birthdays at the time of writing are ineligible for the list.
Goalkeeper: Tommaso Martinelli (Fiorentina)
In all honesty, this is the solitary position where we struggled to find a convincing candidate since no under-21 goalkeeper has made an appearance in Serie A thus far this season. Therefore, we had to make a choice solely based on promise.
At the age of 17, Tommaso Martinelli has been regularly training with the first team at Fiorentina, suggesting that Vicenzo Italiano regards him as a talent to keep a close eye on.
Right-Back: Michael Kayode (Fiorentina)
Speaking of youngsters plying their trade in the Tuscan capital, Michael Kayode has certainly been one of the best revelations in the current campaign.
The 19-year-old made the most out of Dodo’s unfortunate ACL injury that will rule him out for the bulk of the campaign, cementing himself as a competent replacement at right-back. He has already accumulated six Serie A appearances this season, providing an assist in the process.
The Borgomanero native is of Nigerian origins but has been representing Italy at various group ages, recently making his debut with the U21.
Centre-Back: Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta)
At the age of 19, Giorgio Scalvini might be one of the youngest members on the list, yet, he’s certainly the most experienced Under-21 player in the league, with 60 Serie A appearances to his name.
Moreover, the young Atalanta defender has already cemented himself as a regular feature with the senior Italian national team. Scalvini represents the modern centre-back who combines strength with technical skills that allow him to help in the buildup.
While he has a host of suitors between Italy and abroad, playing under the guidance of Gian Piero Gasperini for a few more years could do wonders for his progress.
Honorable Mention: Pietro Camuzzo (Fiorentina)
Centre-Back: Dean Huijsen (Juventus)
Despite making a single brief cameo in Serie A, Dean Huijsen still made the cut thanks to his enormous promise. Moreover, his lone appearance saw him making an impressive interception against a certain Rafael Leao
Juventus poached the defender from Malaga a couple of years ago and he’s been swiftly climbing the ladder ever since. Therefore, the 18-year-old Dutchman could become a pillar in Massimiliano Allegri’s ranks in the next year or two.
With Alex Sandro struggling to cope with pacey attackers, Huijsen now represents the lone natural left-footed defender at Juventus.
Honorable Mention: Allan Matturo (Genoa)
Left-Back: Samuel Iling-Junior (Juventus)
Well, Juventus certainly have the largest host on this list.
Technically, Samuel Iling-Junior is more a winger than a fullback, but he’s been featured as a wingback since joining Allegri’s ranks last season, which makes the nuance excusable.
This term, the Englishman has become lost in the shuffle with Filip Kostic and Andrea Cambiaso fighting it out for a starting berth. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t take anything away from his immense talent.
The 20-year-old will eventually explode, whether in Turin or with another club that pulls off a clever move by signing the pacey winger.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Dorgu (Lecce)
Central Midfielder: Yunus Musah (Milan)
Between solid competition for a starting berth and enduring an adjustment period, Yunus Musah has yet to display his optimal form since joining Milan in the summer.
Nevertheless, the American remains one of the most renowned U21 youngsters in Serie A. The midfielder was a regular feature for the USMNT in last year’s World Cup and is coming off an impressive stint at Valencia.
The sky is the limit for the 20-year-old in terms of potential, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to fulfill his promise while challenging for a place against more experienced stars in Stefano Pioli’s ranks.
Honorable Mention: Jacobo Fazzini (Empoli)
Central Midfielder: Fabio Miretti (Juventus)
It’s been more than 18 months since Fabio Miretti first made his breakthrough into the first team at Juventus. Yet, the 20-year-old is still dividing opinions among the club’s supporters.
While some believe that the young midfielder can become a club icon and emulate the success of Claudio Marchisio, others feel that he lacks the technical skills and composure to achieve such high feats.
Well, perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The Bianconeri youth product can still improve by leaps and bounds to become a reliable presence in the middle of the park, and the club’s current shortage offers him a golden opportunity.
Honorable Mention: Matteo Prati (Cagliari)
Right Winger: Matias Soulé (Frosinone)
Yet another Juventus-owned Uunder-21 starlet, but this one currently plies his trade on loan with Serie A new boys Frosinone.
In the previous two campaigns, we only had a small taste of what Matias Soulé is capable of. However, his appearances under Allegri were too few and far between.
So when the Argentine joined the Serie B champions in the summer, few had envisioned him taking the whole league by storm with such velocity. The impact he had in the early stages has been simply astounding.
With five strikes to his name already, the winger hasn’t just been one of the most impressive youngsters in the league thus far, but one of the best players in Italy, period.
Honorable Mention: Luka Romero (Milan)
Attacking Midfielder: Samuele Vignato (Monza)
While his older brother Emanuel is trying to resurrect his once-promising career at Pisa in Serie B, 19-year-old Samuele Vignato is growing from strength to strength at Monza.
The attacking midfielder is as explosive as they come. Just put the ball at his feet and he’ll either dribble past his marker with ease, pick up a teammate with his precise passing and wonderful vision, or perhaps try his luck with a long-range attempt.
It’s thanks to young talents like him that Serie A fans can still aspire to witness a revival in the much-beloved Trequartista role.
Honorable Mention: Simone Pafundi (Udinese)
Left Winger: Kenan Yildiz (Juventus)
As we mentioned above, the Number 10 role is on the rise among Serie A youngsters, and Kenan Yildiz is yet another breathtaking talent that Italian football is blessed to have… for as long as lingers in the Italian peninsula.
After spending his first year in Turin between the Primavera and the Next Gen squad, Max Allegri couldn’t resist the temptation of promoting the marvelous starlet to the first team and watching him flourish up close and personal.
The young Turk can play in a variety of attacking roles, but his pace, trickery and finishing render him perfectly suited to the second striker role.
Striker: Tommaso Baldanzi (Empoli)
Similar to Yildiz and Vignato, Tommaso Baldanzi is also an attacking midfielder/second striker who can interpret different roles. But due to the lack of genuine centre-forwards eligible to the list, we placed the young Empoli man in a slightly more advanced role than the one he’s accustomed to.
While Empoli’s early-season struggles have derailed the Italian’s momentum, he remains a superb young talent who will definitely earn a high-profile transfer to a bigger Serie A club sooner or later.
Inter fans certainly remember Baldanzi’s fantastic winner at the Giuseppe Meazza last season.
Honorable Mention: Valentin Carboni (Monza)
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