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Italian football has been a hotbed for great players past. While the Italian Serie A has diminished in terms of importance over the last decade, it has not prevented the Italians clubs from possessing an army of highly rated young players capable of elevating the league to the next level not too far in the future. Here are the top seven young players in Italian football.

UDINE, ITALY – JANUARY 31: Keita Balde Diao of SS Lazio reacts during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and SS Lazio at Dacia Arena on January 31, 2016 in Udine, Italy. (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)

Keita Balde – Lazio

A former Barcelona youth team product, Keita Balde joined the Italian outfit in the summer of 2013. Since then, he has been making steady progress. The youngster made his debut in the 2013-14 campaign. However, it is only now that he has managed to establish himself as a regular first-team player at Lazio.

The 22-year-old has been a revelation for the club, as he has managed to grab eight goals and three assists in 25 league appearances. These are impressive statistics, which would be useful for learning how to bet on football matches, considering that he has largely played as a left winger. He is yet to sign a contract extension with Lazio, who are nervous about the situation considering that his current deal runs out in the summer of 2018.

Alberto Grassi – Napoli

Alberto Grassi is one of the young and upcoming midfielders looking to follow in the footsteps of great players like Andrea Pirlo. Napoli were so convinced with Grassi’s qualities that they paid €8 million to Atalanta for the midfielder in January 2016. After spending the first six months at the club, he was loaned back to Atalanta this season. High competition for places at Napoli has been the reason behind his loan move, which has so far been productive with the player managing to score a goal in 15 league appearances. Some of his greatest strengths are physicality, technique, and the ability to dictate the pace of the game.

Godfred Donsah – Bologna

Any Ghanaian midfielder playing in the central positions is likely to be compared with Michael Essien, one of the greatest Ghanaian midfielders of his generation. However, there is something truly special about Godfred Donsah, who managed to catch the attention of Juventus and Chelsea before making the move to Bologna. After coming through the ranks at Palermo, he was signed for around €5 million from Cagliari in the summer of 2016. He may have featured only in 9 league games for Bologna this season, but he is just 20 years old and has plenty of time to establish himself as a first-team regular.

Amadou Diawara – Napoli

Amadou Diawara has quickly elevated himself into one of the top defensive midfielders in the Italian Serie A. His talent was first spotted by Bologna who managed to snap him in the summer of 2015 for just €600,000. Just as in the case of Donsah, they were able to pay a little snip for the player. His incredible talent was confirmed when Napoli came in for his services in the summer of 2016. A €14.5 million move to Napoli and 15 appearances later, Diawara is still considered as a top defensive midfielder for his age. At just 19, he clearly has a long way to go.

Franck Kessie – Atalanta

Franck Kessie has been attracting a huge amount of interest from Premier league clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea in the last few months. The 20-year-old has been a revolution in the Italian Serie A. Despite being a defensive midfielder, he has scored six goals and assisted four goals in just 24 games. Even though his performances have dipped after the African Cup of Nations, he remains a great talent indeed. The 20-year-old is under contract with Atalanta until 2021, but clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool are ready to offer in excess of €20 million for his signature.

Paulo Dybala – Juventus

Dubbed as the ‘new Lionel Messi,’ there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Paulo Dybala to live up to this reputation. He certainly stole the show when he came up against Messi himself in the 3-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinal. The 23-year-old was signed by Juventus for a hefty €33 million in the summer of 2015. He has already won the Italian champion, Italian Super Cup, and Italian cup. This season, he has scored eight goals and assisted seven goals in 24 league games.

Gianluigi Donnarumma – AC Milan

Widely regarded as the replacement for Gianluigi Buffon at national team level, it is frightening to know that Gianluigi Donnarumma is only 18 years old. Yet, he has managed to receive plaudits in huge numbers. He has been a solid performer for AC Milan this season. Even though the club have not been able to achieve much success in the last few years, good times are just around the corner with a goalkeeper like Gianluigi Donnarumma. Donnarumma has already been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, who may be ready to break the world-record transfer fee for the goalkeeper.

Final Thoughts

Italy has some of the greatest football teams in the world and it’s safe to say they also have some of the most talented players in this sport. The names from above are just a few of the best out there, but since the Spanish teams have been dominating UEFA Champions League, the most important football tournament in Europe, Italy still has to catch up.

Italian football expert and Chief-Editor of Italian Football Daily. Follow me on Twitter at @AlexMascitti

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