Lorenzo Pellegrini has had a breakout season for Sassuolo and looks destined to go back to Roma this June as they have a buyback clause. He has shined for all Azzurri youth teams and could receive his first call-up to the Senior Italian National Team soon.
Sassuolo’s star midfielder has caught the attention of many this season. Whether it be as an attacking midfielder, a defensive midfielder or just right in the middle of the park, Pellegrini has never failed to impress. He has notched 6 goals and 4 assists in 23 competitive appearances this season and has been dubbed as one of the future star midfielders of the Italian National Team.
Meet Lorenzo Pellegrini-
Date of Birth: 19 June 1996 (20 years old)
International Caps: Italy U-19 (15 apps, 1 goal), Italy U-20 (2 apps, no goals), Italy U-21 (5 apps, 1 goal)
Pellegrini joined the AS Roma Primavera squad on July 1st, 2013, then only 17 years old. He spent two very productive years with the Primavera and at one point was called up to the senior Roma squad and even made an appearance.
In the 2013-14 season, Pellegrini’s first season with the Primavera side, he made 29 appearances across the Coppa Italia Primavera, as well as the Campionato Primavera Girone C and the Viareggio Cup. At this early point in his career Pellegrini was already showing his ability to control the game along with his nose for goal. He scored six goals and helped the Roma Primavera to a third placed finish. It was during this time that he made his debut for the Italy U-19 squad.
Pellegrini’s second season with the Primavera saw him become an indispensable player for the team. He played the full 90 minutes in all of Roma’s games in the UEFA Youth League and was instrumental in their run to the semi finals. Throughout the entire season Pellegrini made 38 appearances scoring 8 goals and providing three assists.
His performances caught the eyes of many lower mid table Serie A teams and he ended up earning himself a move to Sassuolo from Roma for 1.25 million Euros. Roma knew he had a bright future ahead of him so they placed an 8 million Euro buy back clause on him, which can be exercised in June of 2017.
The Roman youth player’s first season at the Mapei got off to a slow start. Pellegrini was usually on the bench and didn’t make his Sassuolo debut until match day 12 of the 2015-16 Serie A season against Carpi. In the second half of the season he started to appear more and ended up playing a crucial role in Sassuolo’s quest to qualify for the Europa League. He also got called up to the Italy U-20 squad. He ended off the season making 20 appearances and scoring three goals.
This season has been Pellegrini’s break out year in Serie A and he has become a hot commodity in Italian football along with making his debut in the Italy U-21 side. He gained some great experience playing for Sassuolo in the Europa League and has played in 17 of a possible 22 Serie A games. Deployed as a centre mid or more of an attacking mid, Pellegrini has continued to score goals but has also added more of a creative spark to his game. So far this season he has made 23 appearances, scored six goals and provided four assists.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Lorenzo Pellegrini may be a midfielder but he still has quite the nose for goal. Whether it be a long shot from outside the box or a freekick just outside the edge of the 18, this guy can score. The fact that Pellegrini has scored 23 goals in 110 appearances should speak for itself. His assist tally hasn’t been to bad either as he is slowing getting more and more assists each season. This season Pellegrini is on track for a career high in goals and assists.
Defensively Pellegrini has been solid this year. His ability to break up play in the middle of the park has been key for Sassuolo. He has averaged 1.7 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 1.2 clearances per game; good defensive numbers for a midfielder. Discipline is his main weakness as he commits fouls pretty often. In his career so far he has picked up 30 yellow cards and 1 red card.
Good passing is a key skill for any midfielder and that is where there is room for improvement for Lorenzo. In Serie A Pellegrini makes an average of 32 passes a game but he is only completing about 77% of his passes. To put that into perspective for every three good passes he makes one bad pass. This a feature of his game which could be improved though as midfielders tend to improve in their composure and decision making on the ball the longer they go into their career.
Defensively, he is solid. Offensively, he is superb. He’s currently averaging about two shots per game, one key pass per game and one dribble per game. Pellegrini is just an all around midfielder who is able to contribute to the team both defensively and offensively. Its no wonder teams all over Italy are knocking on Sassuolo’s door to bring him in.
The Final Verdict
In less than two season Pellegrini has been able to make the jump from a star for the AS Roma Primavera to a star in Serie A. The impact he has on games is like no other young midfielder in Serie A and whether he ends up at Roma, another Serie A club or just stays at Sassuolo, there is no doubt he has a bright career ahead of him. If he continues to play the way he is playing, there is reason to believe he is not only the future of the Italian National Team, but also the present!
Written by Luca Speranzioso on February 4th, 2017.
Co-founder and admin of @SassuoloNow on twitter.