Top 11 Players Under 23 in Serie A
Serie A: Top 11 Players Under 23
Youngsters have left a massive mark on Serie A this season so far, as burgeoning stars pulling on the colors of both the peninsulas' top clubs and provincial sides have made a lasting impact on the results of the most competitive campaign in recent memory.
With the international break well underway and another week to pass until the Italian top flight returns to action, the time is right to take stock of the best of those building towards a hopefully world-class career.
Only players under the age of 23 have been considered for this list, with players as young as 18 having made the cut as those included hail from 10 different outfits dotting the Italian landscape.
League-leading Roma and Hellas Verona have more than one representative on this list as both teams rank flush with young talent, while a Juventus dynamo sought after by a score of Premier League sides could be considered the crown jewel on this list. He appears alongside a Naples native living the dream with the club he supported as a boy.
A number of those in the ranks are spending their respective seasons on loan away from giants of the game in bids to raise their stock before proving their worth under the tacticians of their parent clubs, as others have already burst through to make the cut for outfits that own their title despite tender years.
And so without further adieu, the following are the best 11 players under 23 in Serie A:
11. Paul Pogba - Juventus
Following a rather acrimonious departure from Manchester United on a free transfer in the summer of 2012, the Frenchman has lived up to lofty expectations in carving out a place in a Juventus midfield laden with talent.
Equally strong and technically proficient with a high work rate, Pogba has already proven to be decisive for the back-to-back Italian champions and looks on the verge of displacing veteran Claudio Marshisio for a permanent spot in the starting 11.
10. Jorginho - Hellas Verona
Born in Brazil but having grown up in Italy, the 21-year-old Hellas Verona youth product has impressed in his campaign in Serie A, hitting the back of the net five times and playing all but eight of the available minutes through 12 matches.
Skillful with the ball at his feet while possessing innate finishing ability and significant vision to boot, he’s declared his intent to don the Azzurri shirt on the international level. Should he continue to produce, it shouldn’t be long before Cesare Prandelli hands him his debut.
9. Alessandro Florenzi - Roma
A born and bred Romanista in the fashion of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, Florenzi broke into the first team on a consistent basis last season under Zdenek Zeman and hasn’t looked back since.
New Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia has since converted the former central midfielder to a winger with great success as he’s grabbed four goals this term to lead the top side in Serie A in scoring.
8. Domenico Berardi - Sassuolo
Such is the 19-year-old’s talent that Juventus sold Sassuolo half of the promising Luca Marrone’s title this past summer to acquire him on a co-ownership basis before he’d even set foot in the top flight.
Berardi has rewarded the Bianconeri’s faith in beating the keeper six times through eight appearances as he remains with the newly-promoted Neroverdi to gain experience.
7. Adem Ljajic - Roma
The replacement for Erik Lamela as Roma sold off the Argentine to Tottenham late in the summer for a lavish price, Ljajic has done his part to make the Giallorossi faithful forget about his much more expensive predecessor at the Stadio Olimpico.
A prolific dribbler that rarely fails to test the goalkeeper when having a shot on goal, the Serbian hit a lovely long-range effort from distance to score in his Roma debut in early September before hitting a clinching penalty in the Derby della Capitale three weeks later, and buried a brilliant lob on his 22nd birthday to complete a 5-0 rout of Bologna.
6. Nicola Murru - Cagliari
Probably the least-known player on this list, the Cagliari man made his debut for his hometown club just days after turning 17 in December 2011.
Now a fixture in the Isolani lineup, Murru still has ample time to develop into one of Serie A’s top left-backs. He's already an adept defender and a major threat going forward out on the flank.
5. Sime Vrsaljko - Genoa
A valuable two-way contributor much like Murru, the Genoa right-back has been one of the major reasons Genoa has been able to get back on track after a horrific start to the season.
Powerful, pacy and strong in the air, Vrsaljko is the embodiment of the modern fullback and given the impression he’s already made on the Italian championship, the Grifone will struggle to hold onto him despite having only purchased him this past summer.
4. Shkodran Mustafi - Sampdoria
Flying under the radar for a vastly underachieving Sampdoria side, the Germany U-21 international has been one of the few bright spots for the languishing Blucerchiati.
Nearly unbeatable in headed duels, he is an excellent long-range passer and a proactive presence at the back. The former Everton center-back has vanquished the doubts of his ability to compete at the highest level that plagued him during his three-year spell in England.
3. Francesco Bardi - Livorno
A Livorno youth product, Bardi has returned to the club he grew up with on loan from Inter this term to cut his teeth in the top flight.
Goalkeeping for a newly-promoted side is never an easy task, as proven by Mattia Perin for Pescara last season, But, the 21-year-old has made the starting job his and has performed admirably for the Amaranto, save for a catastrophic blunder made against his parent club on November 9.
2. Lorenzo Insigne - Napoli
One of Italy’s most electrifying talents, the diminutive speedster set Serie B ablaze under Zdenek Zeman on loan at Pescara two years ago to triumphantly return to his beloved Napoli in search of glory.
Making most of his appearances off of the bench under ex-Partenopei boss Walter Mazzarri, Insigne has received more starting berths with Rafa Benitez at the helm despite facing increased competition from Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon.
1. Juan Iturbe - Hellas Verona
Once dubbed the ‘New Messi’ in his native Argentina, Iturbe’s career appeared to be stalling out early after a blockbuster move to Porto in 2011, but has been revived via a loan spell at Hellas Verona.
Innately brilliant on the ball like his countryman at Barcelona, and the 20-year-old also possesses a powerful shot from distance. He has been subject to transfer interest all around Europe despite having made only eight appearances for the Mastini.