Ones to Watch at Euro 2020: Federico Chiesa

This summer, Top Bins Talk is partnering with FIVEYARDS for their Euro 2020 game. To enter, visit their site here – where you will see their list of Golden 50 – before picking 5 players who you think will increase in value the most over the tournament. You can then compete in the leaderboard to win a share of £1,000! Entries open on 1st June.

To help, we are creating player profiles on a number of the individuals available for selection. Our first piece is on the young Juventus and Italy winger, Federico Chiesa:

A leading light for Italy’s next generation

It was a difficult season for Juventus. After winning nine Serie A title’s in a row, I Bianconeri stumbled to a 4th place finish as Inter were crowned champions. There was, however, some reason for optimism for Juve fans – namely in the mould of 23-year-old Federico Chiesa – who in his first year at the club was directly involved in 26 goals (15 G / 11 A) across all competitions.

Signed from Fiorentina at the beginning of the season for a deal that could rise to €60m, the young wide player has recently taken massive strides in his game. Prior to signing for the club, Chiesa’s immense potential was always obvious, yet he was often guilty of suffering runs of inconsistency and an inability to truly stamp his authority on matches. He’s added a real sense of responsibility to his game – quickly becoming an integral member of Juventus’ side and so often the key player in the big moments – scoring the winner in the Coppa Italia and the first goal in the game to secure Champions League qualification.

This summer, he’ll look to build on a strong domestic campaign by playing a role in Italy’s quest for continental success. The squad has a nice blend of experience and youth, yet it feels like it’s the latter group’s turn to take over – and Chiesa will want to be a big part of that.

Player Profile
• Ability to find and create space in the final third
• Strong direct 1 v 1 dribbling and can play on either wing
• High energy and press out of possession
• A tendency to shoot in unfavorable situations and from poor positions

In a season of underperformance for Juventus, Chiesa proved to be a beacon of hope. In Andrea Pirlo’s malleable setup, we saw the Italian shift from a wingback in defense to a wide forward in attack quite seamlessly. In fact, he ranked in the 93rd percentile for tackles (2.09) among wingers/attacking mids in Europe’s top five leagues, and in the 90th percentile for non-penalty goals (0.41) per 90. It is rare to see a typically advanced wide player be so active, and so successful, on both sides of the ball. His high energy and press saw him turn an abundance of defensive actions into swift counter attacks. 

This high motor is paired with a good sense of composure, especially in 1v1 duels. He has a knack for identifying space and applying the right technique to get there, whether that be through a nutmeg, a body-feint, or a Zidane-like pirouette. His direct dribbling ability and tendency to do everything at full speed makes him very difficult to stop. That being said, he does occasionally lose the ball after a long run, leaving his team exposed defensively. His versatility in forward positions could be hugely important for Italy this summer – he’s capable of playing on the left, the right, or even centrally as he did at times for Fiorentina.

In the final third, he times his runs well, often positioned well for a cutback or found waiting at the back post. We saw this in great effect against Porto in this season’s Champions League, where he one-timed a bouncing cross into the far corner. This season, he had more penalty area touches (5.74 per 90) than 86 percent of wingers in Europe’s top five leagues, despite primarily arriving from deeper positions. This ability to make smart movements is also crucial in creating space for his teammates, most notably Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo. His propensity to exploit dangerous positions in the final phase of play, paired with his high volume shooting, has made him one of Juventus’ leading marksman – scoring 15 goals in his debut season at the club. Chiesa has also shown a clear improvement in his shot selection, taking a lower volume of shots per 90 but remaining consistent in his goal return.

Chiesa was once a raw and primarily technical talent, but he’s taken giant leaps forward in his development this season, especially in his ball retention and decision making. He does still occasionally take shots where he retrospectively should have passed, but it feels like that can be forgiven when his movement, on-the-ball ability, and direct and relentless speed means he’s constantly a nuisance in the final third.

After missing out on the World Cup in 2018, the Italians have all the incentive necessary to make a strong push for silverware this summer. The squad has an intriguing balance of experience, youth, and flair – and it really feels as though Chiesa can play a massive role. He’ll face stiff competition for a starting spot, but if he can force his way into the lineup, expect him to build on his strong season at Juventus – and catch the attention of football fans worldwide.

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