Serie B in Italy has always been the ideal stage for young Italian talents to showcase themselves and mature in the hope of making the big jump to Serie A sooner or later.
While it is too early to say which players are ready for Italy’s top league, with the 2021-2022 season having just started – barely six games played – we at Driblab want to highlight five U21 profiles, one per position – a goalkeeper, a defender, a full-back, a midfielder and a striker – who are performing at a good level and therefore deserve to be followed throughout the season.
In order to offer original, but at the same time quality content, we are not going to propose profiles whose names already resonate in newspapers and online media all over Italy, such as Marco Carnesecchi (Cremonese) – goalkeeper of the U21 national team – Enrico Del Prato (Parma) – defender of Atalanta – Enrico Del Prato (Parma) – Atalanta defender – Lorenzo Lucca (Pisa) – goalkeeper of the U21 national team – Enrico Del Prato (Parma) – defender of Atalanta, Lorenzo Lucca (Pisa) – scorer of 5 goals in 6 games and who has attracted the interest of the big Italian teams – and Nicolò Fagioli (Cremonese) who, as you all know, was praised by Allegri during his first spell at Juventus.
Goalkeeper: Federico Ravaglia (Frosinone)
Our choice for goalkeeper is Federico Ravaglia. On loan from Bologna, the Ciociaria goalkeeper is performing well in his first stint as a Serie B starter. Despite the mistake against Brescia, mainly due to his youth, Ravaglia has conceded 4 goals in the first 6 games of the season. However, according to our prediction models, the Bologna goalkeeper should have conceded almost twice as many goals (7). Furthermore, among U21 goalkeepers in the top 5 leagues, the goalkeeper ranks in the top 25% in some key metrics such as saves (%), shots conceded per goal and saves xG per shot.
Defender: Simone Canestrelli (Crotone)
A product of Empoli’s youth academy – last season with Albinoleffe in Serie C – with four of his last six starts, Canestrelli is distinguishing himself for his defensive solidity. Indeed, a glance at our beeswarm shows how the young defender is able to counter the opposition well – more than two winning tackles per game – is very difficult to beat in one-on-one defence and extremely effective in the air. Finally, it is worth mentioning his contribution in playmaking. His performances make him the best-performing Italian U21 defender in his first appearances of the season.
Full-back: Tommaso Cassandro (Cittadella)
In the full-back position, we have decided to highlight Cittadella’s attacking full-back Tommaso Cassandro. The young Bologna full-back is having his first experience in Serie A and is showing his offensive skills: his ball progression and his percentage of successful crosses. As a result, he is capable of creating a good number of chances per game.
Midfield: Salvatore Esposito (Spal) – Filippo Ranocchia (LR Vicenza)
In midfield, there are two talents that we want to highlight and who are showing their excellent performance: Salvatore Esposito and Filippo Ranocchia. The former, a Spal midfielder, is a very interesting player because of his ability to combine defensive and dribbling qualities. The latter, who comes from Juventus, is a more attacking player, with excellent vision and the ability to play between the lines, where he can often find the right play and link up with his team-mates towards goal.
Forward: Samuele Mulattieri (Crotone)
Our team’s chosen striker is Inter’s Samuele Mulattieri, currently at Crotone. He had an incredible season in the Dutch second division last year – 18 goals – being the Italian striker who has scored the most goals in 2021 and even in these first few rounds he seems not to have lost the habit (5 goals in 6 games).
The Pythagorean striker is a player who moves well in space, who is capable of a large number of touches in the opposition box and who is also good in the air. The main characteristic of this type of striker is that he is usually in the right position to receive shots with a high xG, which allows him to be effective in front of goal.