Every weekend we pick out one under-23 player from around Europe and analyse their performance to provide you with an in-depth scouting report.
This week, we head to Italy to focus on Fiorentia’s emphatic 5-0 victory away to Hellas Verona in Serie A and the man we analyse is 19-year-old Federico Chiesa – the son of former Sampdoria and Parma striker Enrico.
Goals – 0
Shots – 4 (2nd)
Shots on target – 1 (tied 3rd)
Touches – 36 (10th)
Passes – 21 (10th
Key passes – 1 (tied 4th)
Dribbles – 3 (1st)
Suspended for Fiorentina’s opening game of the season, Chiesa has struggled to make much of an impact in 2017/18 after a tumultuous summer that saw no fewer than nine players leave the club. New boss Stefano Pioli insisted that the recent international break would allow his side to grow as a unit following heavy losses to Inter and Sampdoria in the first two rounds of action, and fortunately for fans of La Viola, the coach was proven correct.
He deployed his side in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, Chiesa switching roles in that trio behind striker Giovanni Simeone. That freedom to move around the pitch saw him cause no end of problems for the Hellas Verona defence, the newly promoted hosts ruthlessly picked apart by a rampant Fiorentina.
The lively attacking midfielder ran at their overwhelmed backline at every opportunity and – despite not registering a goal or an assist – was directly responsible for at least three of the Viola’s successful efforts.
Chiesa made the most of the space afforded to him and linked well with those around him, showing particularly good understanding with left-back Cristiano Biraghi and midfielder Marco Benassi. His performance here certainly warranted a goal, but after netting only four times last term he clearly needs to work on his finishing.
8th min – With his side already one goal ahead, the teenager was picked out by Benassi’s smart through-ball as he ran from the left, forcing Hellas goalkeeper Nicolas to bring him down. The referee had no choice but to award a penalty, which was duly despatched by Cyril Théréau to put the visitors 2-0 up.
14th min – Bursting in from the right, Chiesa won the ball against two defenders before bypassing four Hellas players with a neat reverse pass to Simeone, the striker dragging a shot narrowly wide.
25th min – Makes a superb run behind the defence and collects a perfectly-timed ball from Simeone. Chiesa’s low, left-footed shot is tipped wide for a corner
45th min – Narrowly fails to get on the end of a cross from Biraghi who is freed on the left flank after a smart team move, Chiesa sliding in at the far post but unable to connect just before the referee blows for half-time.
53rd min – Biraghi plays the ball down the left touchline, his team-mate shimmying his way past Romulo who eventually grabs his shirt and hauls down the teenager before receiving a yellow card.
56th min – Sprints away down the right flank, spinning past one would-be tackler before dummying his way beyond another. Shoots from a narrow angle with his effort turned behind for yet another corner.
60th min – Picked out in a central area, Chiesa is fouled by Bruno Zuculini. Former Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Veretout scores directly from the resulting free kick to put Fiorentina 4-0 ahead.
67th min – Cuts in from the left and fires a wayward effort wide when better options were available. One minute later he collects the ball in a similar position and drives a lazy cross straight to Verona defender Martin Caceres when a simple pass to Veretout was available.
70th min – Substituted for Gil Dias, he is given a warm round of applause by both Hellas and Fiorentina supporters before receiving a long hug from Coach Pioli who was clearly pleased with his contribution.
While he may have gotten sloppy when he tired just before being replaced, the first 70 minutes saw Chiesa cause Hellas no end of problems, the Gialloblu having no answers for his constant running and direct style.
If he can get his shooting to the same standard as his dribbling and creativity while adding increased consistency, Fiorentina will have yet another wonderfully complete attacking player on their hands, the ability of the 19-year-old clearly evident over the last twelve months.