With foreign owners paving the way, and new stadia being proposed, Calcio in general seems to be on the rise. In this article I will take a look at some of the top centre backs of tomorrow, who will hopefully be playing their part in making Serie A the most recognisable league in the world once again.
It has been a while now since the likes of Fabio Cannavaro and Franco Baresi graced the fields of Serie A, and there is no doubt that us fans miss these exceptional centre backs, but it appears that this could soon change, with an excess of defensive talent rising up through the ranks of Italy’s youth teams. The libero might not exist in modern day Calcio, but that does not mean that some superb central defenders can be created in the near future, following in the footsteps of world cup winners, Claudio Gentile, Pietro Vierchowod and Antonio Cabrini.
Born in Kampala, Uganda, Elio Capradossi moved to Italy at a very young age, and soon pursued a footballing career. His athletic stature, and outright pace, stand the Roma Primavera player in good stead for when he should make his professional debut in the capital. Having made his way up through the academy at Roma, Capradossi was recently rewarded with his inclusion in the Italy squad for the under seventeen world cup in the United Arab Emirates. Able to play with both feet, the Ugandan born Italian, is already at an enviable advantage compared to the majority of centre backs at his age. It is unlikely that Capradossi will be a starter in Roma’s first team for at least another three years, which looks set to coincide with the opening of the Giallorossi’s newly proposed stadium in the Tor di Valle region of Rome. His arrival into the Roma team will not be plain sailing however, with Alessio Romagnoli and Tin Jedvaj both providing the seventeen year old with stiff competition for a place in the starting eleven.
Ivan Francesco De Santis
A starter in the Primavera aged sixteen, Ivan Francesco De Santis is beginning to make the headlines on the southern peninsula, after forming a solid partnership alongside Luca Iotti in AC Milan’s Primavera. Like Capradossi, De Santis was part of the Italy squad for the under seventeen world cup, that got knocked out in the round of sixteen against eventual finalist’s Mexico. Upon his arrival back in Milan, De Santis put in a gallant performance in the UEFA Youth League, where Milan’s Primavera earned a draw at the Mini Estadi against Barcelona Juvenil A. In this game, De Santis was one of the stand-out performers in the tie, keeping a strong Blaugrana side at bay for just under eighty minutes. With most of the players two years older than the Bari born defender, Ivan didn’t look out of place once, using all of his assets to his advantage against some of Europe’s best young attackers. Since the sale of Thiago Silva, the Diavolo have lacked a real centre back and although it could be a couple of years until De Santis enters the fray, Milan look to have a real gem on their hands.
Having been included in Zdenek Zeman’s Roma squad for the 2012-13 season, Alessio Romagnoli made his Serie A debut at the young age of seventeen, coming on for a cameo appearance in the last few minutes against AC Milan last December. Born in Anzio, Romagnoli is a Romanista through and through. Just like Totti and De Rossi, Romagnoli is expected to become a fan favourite for the Lupi faithful, who see the eighteen year old as a future captain. Standing at 6,2, Romagnoli is renowned for his superb aerial ability, which was demonstrated earlier this year when he headed Roma 2-1 up against Genoa at the Olimpico in March. Despite a fantastic debut season in Serie A, Romagnoli has struggled to find any playing time this season, with the centre back partnership of Mehdi Benatia and Leandro Castan, monopolising the starting berths in the first twelve games of the season. The future looks bright for Roma, with a possible pairing of home-grown centre backs able to be fielded within the next five years. There is a possibility however, that Romagnoli could be loaned out in January, as Roma look to find their young prospect some playing time.
Currently plying his trade at Empoli in Serie B, Daniele Rugani has had a fabulous start to the season in Tuscany where he has been the focal point of a defence that has conceded less than one goal per game in the first few months of the season. On loan from Juventus, the nineteen year old centre back is a powerful presence at the back, who also has the desirable ability to be able to read the game. La Vecchia Signora noticed these abilities, and snapped up the youngster earlier this summer, before loaning him back to Empoli. This season has seen the Tuscan defender receive a call up to gli Azzurrini, and although he is yet to start for the under twenty-one’s, Rugani could make his first appearance some time over the next few days against Serbia. With the Bianconeri having tied him down for the next couple of years, Rugani seems almost certain to start his Serie A career at the current champions.
Roma might have two Italian centre backs rising up through their ranks, but with Croatian teenager Tin Jedvaj also in their squad, the Giallorossi will without doubt have many options to choose from in their defence. In Sardinia, Cagliari are also producing some noteworthy talent, one of which is young centre back Dario Del Fabro, who already has some Serie A experience under his belt. Inter, Juventus and Milan also have highly tipped prospects coming through their ranks in the form of Simone Pasa, Alberto Masi (On loan at Ternana), and Luca Iotti respectively. French youngster Mory Kone (Parma), and Croatian star Igor Bubnjic (Udinese), are another two centre backs who will also be hoping to stamp their authority on the Calcio world within the next five or so years.
Be sure to look out for part 3 of, The Stars of Tomorrow, where I will be focusing on the new Facchetti’s and Maldini’s of Serie A!