There has been little to rave about in Turin this season, with Andrea Pirlo’s first year in charge of Juventus proving messy and tiresome.
Nothing is over until the fat lady sings as they say, but the Old Lady are currently eight points adrift of league leaders Inter and haven’t looked at the races all season. Having held the scudetto consecutively since 2011/12, this campaign was always had the potential to be a transitional – and painful – one.
There have been positives, though, namely in the way of youth. Pirlo has put trust in Weston McKennie and the young American has relished the opportunity, while Dejan Kulusevski has impressed too. The latest player to make his Serie A debut, however, is Nicolo Fagioli, to the delight of Juventus fans.
Fagioli has long been raved about by the Bianconeri faithful and was finally given a proper run out in Juve’s 3-0 victory against Crotone. But what’s all the hype about? Here’s all you need to know about the 20-year-old.
An astute playmaker in advanced areas of the pitch, Fagioli possesses impressive control over the ball in tight situations and can progress play efficiently.
When not spraying a pass, the 20-year-old can move the ball with some neat dribbling, be it to burst into the opposition box or even to restart play from further back.
Versatility is key in Pirlo’s system; Fagioli could be handy in both attacking and deeper roles.
It’s taken until the turn of the year for Pirlo to blood Fagioli into the first team, but that doesn’t tell the whole story; he is a big fan of the youngster.
Pirlo has actually gone as far to draw comparisons between himself and Fagioli.
Quoted by Calciomerato, the Juve head coach drew parallels in their play: “He can be a director, like me he grew up as an attacking midfielder but he is more inclined to the construction of the game, not only in terms of characteristics but also physically”.
Injuries can affect anyone, but Fagioli had an intense scare in April 2019.
He faced a month lay-off with benign cardiac arrhythmia, after doctors discovered an irregular heart rhythm.
All injuries are scary when a youngster is filled with so much promise, but heart problems are often overlooked. Thankfully, it hasn’t affected his ascent.
Alright, not permanently, but a temporary switch to Crotone was being talked up during the 2018/19 season.
Massimiliano Allegri was in charge at the time in what would be his last season with the club, and the move for Fagioli was blocked so that the Italian could develop in-house rather than elsewhere.
Fagioli has discusses his relationship with some of the biggest names in world football, let alone Juventus, and revealed that plenty of first-team players are looking out for him.
The 20-year-old explained following his heart issues that Cristiano Ronaldo had helped him out in speaking with medical staff and better understanding the issue. He also cites Paulo Dybala as someone he regularly talks to when in the first-team setup.
In terms of role models, he isn’t in bad company by any means.
While he starts out with a fairly lowly 68 rating on EA Sports’ FIFA 21, he unsurprisingly grows to a very strong 84 OVR in career mode.
Meanwhile, on PES the youngster initially has a 61 rating, which can be levelled up to 81 with the right amount of game time.
Last but not least, the name Fagioli translates into English as ‘beans’, which we can all agree is great.