Alberto Grassi has come off as an unknown in the Napoli squad so far this year. However, judging by his form earlier in the season with Atalanta, Grassi certainly has a bright future.
Place of Birth: Brescia, Italy
Date of Birth: March 7, 1995 (aged 21)
Position(s): Central Midfielder (box to box)
Current Club: Napoli
Italian National Team Caps: Italy U17 (11 caps), Italy U19 (4 caps, 1 goal), Italy U20 (7 caps), Italy U21 (3 caps).
Who is Alberto Grassi?
Born and bred through the youth academy at Atalanta Bergamo (one of the best, if not the best youth academy in Italy), Grassi started off his youth career in 2010 at age 15. Grassi signed his first professional deal with Atalanta on May 29, 2012 and was a member of Atalanta’s primavera squad. The first half of the 2015-2016 season was his Grassi’s breakout season. Grassi earned 16 caps under Edy Reja and was a dependable player. Edy Reja even went on as far as to say, “I’m losing my boy” when asked about Grassi’s eventual departure to Napoli in the January transfer session.
Eventually, as previously stated, Alberto Grassi moved onto become Napoli’s first January signing this year for a reported €10 million fee. It is uncertain as to whether Grassi has been able to live up to the price-tag as he has not made a single appearance under a Maurizio Sarri lead Napoli side ever since joining the club. However, Sarri stated in a press conference that, “Grassi is a very talented boy”. Therefore, he must be showing signs of his earlier form on Atalanta in training for Napoli. The reason for his lack of playing time could be due to the fact Napoli have very good players already playing in his position, with the likes of Marek Hamsik, Allan and Jorginho.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Grassi is a very hard working box to box central midfielder. Very few times will you see the Italian U21 international compromised during a match. His passing range is excellent, something that is a very rare sight within youthful midfielders. Grassi plays his best against the bigger teams, putting in class performances against the likes of Napoli and AC Milan. Grassi’s anticipation of where the opposition will pass next is nothing short of extraordinary. His ability to pick off passes through the midfield is second to none. Finally, when given the chance to, Grassi usually makes the keeper work when hitting shots from long range. Even though Grassi has so much to offer, he lacks in the physique standpoint. Many a times, Alberto Grassi will be pushed off the ball by bigger, stronger central midfielders in the Serie A. The good thing is that Grassi’s high work rates and ability to cover most of the pitch deters most of the negativity regarding his physique.
Here is a video depicting Grassi’s early season form with Atalanta:
Alberto Grassi will undoubtedly make his Napoli debut sooner rather than later. It is only a matter of time until the youngster’s quality will shine through Maurizio Sarri’s eyes, and he will be given the chance to prove himself in front of the San Paolo crowd. Hopefully Grassi can show enough promise with Napoli that whomever the manager of the Italian National Team after Antonio Conte might give him his first Senior national team call-up. As of now, Grassi remains a promising youth product that, with consistent minutes on the pitch, can really turn into a mainstay in the Napoli lineup for years to come.