Daniele Baselli arrived at Torino this summer with very little fanfare. In fact, the central midfielder was one half of a double swoop of Atalanta players by Torino with fullback Davide Zappacosta also joining the Granata for a total buy of €10M. And while Zappacosta has only featured once as a substitute this season, Baselli has risen to prominence with Toro, appearing in every game through the first month of the season.
The 23-year-old scored a goal in each of Torino’s first four official matches to start the 2015-16 season. In mid-August, he netted Toro’s first goal in his competitive debut for the club in a Coppa Italia third round victory over Pescara. Then, he scored goals in three consecutive Serie A matches, including the game winner in a 2-1 win over Frosinone in the season opener. It’s no coincidence that Torino is one of only four teams still unbeaten after four league games and only trails leaders Inter by two points in league standings.
Baselli has slotted in remarkably well in central midfield in Torino head coach Giampiero Ventura’s attack-oriented 3-5-2 system. Regarded as a box-to-box midfielder, his anticipation and strong tackling skills have been complemented by a newly-found thirst for goal. In fact, his four tallies to date this season have surpassed his entire career output in four previous seasons.
Though born in nearby Brescia, Baselli grew up in the much-touted Atalanta youth system. After a decade in the youth ranks of the Bergamo club, half of Baselli‘s rights were sold to Serie B side Cittadella in 2011. Over his two seasons there, he played regularly and scored his first professional goal in 2013. That summer, Baselli returned to Atalanta and signed a four-year deal with the club.
Ironically, Baselli’s Serie A debut with Atalanta, as a second half substitute in a 2-0 home win, came against his current club Torino. In two seasons at Bergamo, Baselli made 50 appearances but scored just twice.
Baselli has also been in the Italian National Team program for six years, dating back to a brief stint with the U-18 selection in 2009. Baselli graduated to the U21 team in 2012, playing in a handful of games, culminating with an appearance at the European U21 Championships in the Czech Republic this past summer. In 2014, Baselli was invited by then manager Cesare Prandelli to join the senior National Team for a three-day evaluation stage for young players ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Baselli had been on the radar of several other Serie A teams in the past, including AC Milan who had been tracking the midfielder’s progress for two years. But when the rossoneri chose to acquire Alessio Romagnoli from Roma in a big-money transaction this summer, it effectively put an end to their pursuit of Baselli.
Wearing the number 16 on his back, Baselli resembles another notable player with that numeral, Roma’s Daniele De Rossi, in his work rate and inspirational qualities. Baselli also possesses a creative instinct that allows him to be a focal point of the Torino attack. That is a distinction that could certainly lead to a breakout season for his new club and, potentially, to an official selection to the Azzurri.