La Gazzetta dello Sport: The best XI youngsters in Serie A

The revered Italian football daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport, have set about the audacious task of putting together their best Serie A XI of youngsters, being players aged 23 or below.

Adopting a 3-4-3 formation, this is the team they came up with:

Goalkeeper: Gianluca Curci (Siena, 23). While Italy have a long history of top keepers, Curci is the next home-grown talent to burst on the scene. The former U18, U-19 and U-20 Azzurri keeper opted to further his career last summer when he moved from Roma to Siena, acknowledging that the time has arrived for the young talent to develop his game with regular football. Manchester United fans may remember Curci for his stellar performance at Old Trafford in last season’s Champions League.

(Video evidence here.)

Right back: Stefan Radu (Lazio, 22). Having learnt his trade at Dinamo Bucharest, Lazio initally brought Radu to the Stadio Olimpico on loan, only to sign the defender who can play across the backline for €5.4m. Labelled “The new Chivu” in his homeland, Radu has regularly turned out for both club and country.

(Video evidence here.)

Centre back: Luca Rossettini (Siena, 23). Despite being only 5.9ft, Rossettini is known as a no-nonsense defender who relies on his strength and aerial ability. Sadly for the defender, he recently required knee surgery keeping him sidelined for up to four months.

Left back: Domenico Criscito (Genoa, 21). Earmarked as one of the most promising defenders of his generation, the Juventus owned defender is presently farmed out to Genoa as he develops his talents. At Genoa he played an integral part in last season’s promotion to Serie A, and is renowned for his excellent technique, pace and positional sense.

(Video evidence here.)

Right midfield: Mauricio Isla (Udinese, 20). Blessed with the lungs of a marathon runner, the Chilean was picked up by Udinese after having impressed at the U-20 World Cup in Canada. Isla is known for being pacey, skillful and with a keen eye for goal.

(Video evidence here.)

Centre midfield: Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina, 23). Blooded at Atalanta, Montolivo was signed by the Viola in 2005 and has since chalked up over 100 Serie A appearances. An attacking midfielder, elegant on the ball, skilful and able to score goals, he was rewarded for his talents by being called up for the Italian squad at last summer’s Olympics.

(Video evidence here.)

Centre midfield: Marek Hamsik (Napoli, 21). The surprise package of last season. Newly-promoted Napoli added Hamsik to their squad for €5.5m in 2007, and the Slovak midfielder repaid his fee finishing the year as the club’s top scorer with 9 goals in 37 games. So far this season, Hamsik has hit the back of the net 7 more times. Hamsik has the ability to be a complete midfielder.

(Video evidence here.)

Left midfield: Paolo De Ceglie (Juventus, 22). Able play in defence, De Ceglie has a sharp turn of pace, a sweet left-foot and a natural crossing ability. After impressing at Siena last term on loan, Ranieri recalled De Ceglie to the Bianconeri where he has featured 12 times this season.

(Video evidence here.)

Striker: Alexandre Pato (AC Milan, 19). Young, strong, excellent technique, pacey and a true goalscorer. With 15 goals in 35 games for the Rossoneri, and one goal in 4 matches for Brazil, Pato is arguably the the best youngster in world football.

(Video evidence here.)

Striker: Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli, 23). Dubbed the “new Maradona,” Lavezzi won gold at the Beijing Olympics and now part of the full national squad on a regular basis. An idol to the Neapolitans (12 goals in 42 games) Chelsea are rumoured to be tracking the forward.

(Video evidence here.)

Striker: Mauro Zarate (Lazio, 21). Signed for Birmingham on-loan from Al Sadd of Qatar, Zarate was an instant sensation at St. Andrews. His technique, dribbling ability and creativity immediately attracted the eye of some of the league’s bigger clubs, Lazio snapping up the 5.8ft striker on loan with a view to a permanent deal.

(Video evidence here.)


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