Those of a certain vintage will remember from their childhood the Might Duck’s movies. The story of how a bunch of misfit kids with a love for ice-hockey came together to form a team and go on to create magic with their flying-V formation.
Real die-hard fans of the movies may remember one player in particular, his name, Luis Mendoza. From Miami, Mendoza was blessed with incredible pace on the ice perhaps even the fastest player for his age group. Luis however had one flaw to his game he couldn’t stop once he’d built up a head of steam. As with most feel-good movies it comes good for Mendoza in the end, but his incredible speed and inability to stop couldn’t but bare a striking resemblance to current Parma full back Pasquale Mazzocchi.
Born in Naples, now aged 22 Mazzocchi is what one would consider young but not so young to still be considered a hot prospect. A career that started in the youth sector of Benevento, before moving on to play Primavera football with Hellas Verona, has seen many fits and starts along the way.
Initially an attacking right winger, Mazzocchi failed to fully establish himself in his tender years with loan spells at Bellaria Igea Marina, Pro Piacenza and Rimini. However, in January of 2016, then still only 20 years old Mazzocchi was signed by Parma.
Having been reborn from their bankruptcy the previous Summer, the Gialloblu were at this point sitting pretty at the top of Serie D Girone D. The January transfer window though gave the Crociati the chance to strengthen an already intimidating squad for that level and once and for all put the gallant challenge of Altovincentino behind them.
As such manager Luigi Apolloni plumped for Mazzocchi. Straight away it was obvious that young Pasquale was a speed merchant, willing to take on and beat his man at every opportunity he most certainly did not lack in enthusiasm. It was still abundantly clear though that Mazzocchi was very raw ability wise and often naïve tactically. If a comparison was to be made between him and another the best way of describing him would be as a lower leagues Jonathan Biabiany. Again, pace but somewhat lacking in the end product.
That though is now just shy of two years ago and the Mazzocchi of then is incomparable to the Mazzocchi of now. Recently after making his 50th league appearance for the Ducali the Naples native has cemented a place in the starting elven for the now Serie B club and what’s more he is doing it all while now being a right back.
Usually it takes a considerable degree of time for a young player to bed into a new position, especially one as complex as the modern full back. Mazzocchi’s development however has been nothing short of astronomical over the last two seasons.
Gone for the most part is his tactical naivety, also once where he might run blindly down an alley he now gets his head up in search of teammates. Key to his development though is the fact that while now a converted full back he has not lost his desire to attack and take on a man. So often it is seen in young players that for them to develop into a position their desire to simply take on a man one on one is curtailed.
For now, Mazzocchi has managed to find a happy medium. Of Course, the presence of veteran centre half Alessandro Lucarelli beside him has been a huge help. With the Parma legend seen many a time through matches helping to guide the player.
This seemingly willingness to learn and develop as a player has not gone unnoticed by teams outside of Parma, with rumours in the last few months that the likes of Sassuolo and Bologna were said to be keeping an eye on the player. For now, though he seems happy at Parma, but if their stay in the second tier becomes more extended than one expected then perhaps Mazzocchi will be looking to make the next step.
At 22 there is still plenty of time for growth with Mazzocchi and if he keeps on at the pace he has been since moving to Parma then the Crociati have a very talented player in the making. It is important not to hype the young man too much however, for instance will he play for Italy one day, the answer is no, will he even play for a top four Serie A club, doubtful. What he can become however is a very good Serie A player, one who may never get the credit he deserves but can always be relied upon.
Blessed with searing pace, skill and a seemingly hungriness to improve in all facets of his game, if Pasquale Mazzocchi continues to develop as he has been doing then he is a name to keep an eye in the next year and a half or so.