Club Focus – Cagliari – Ragatzu must mature fast if he wants to be Cagliari’s secret weapon

Cagliari teenager Daniele Ragatzu could be one to watch this season for the Rossoblu. The youngster is highly rated by the Isolani and, despite him being just 18 years old, it is expected new boss Pierpaolo Bisoli will present the Sardinian with ample opportunity to impress in the coming season.

Ragatzu is short, just 5 ft 7 in, but as a consequence he possesses a low centre of gravity and the ability to turn swiftly away from his marker inside the penalty area. This product of the Cagliari youth system is considered an exceptional talent having already made 14 Serie A appearances, scoring 3 goals. Gifted with quick feet and a coolness in front of goal, Ragatzu is already being earmarked to climb up through the Azzurri ranks in the not too distant future.

Having already represent the U-16’s 12 times with 6 goals, followed by seven appearances for the U-17’s and three goals, Ragatzu has already made an impression for country as well as club. Despite showing the potential to be a prolific striker, the youngster is much more than just a goal scorer.

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Ragatzu, who has already been compared to fellow Sardinian and Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola, can beat an opponent on either side with the drop of a shoulder and encouragingly is not dispirited when confronted with physically bigger opponents.

We have also seen the occasional glimpse of genius from the Sardinian youngster, which has led so many to note the similarities with the great Zola. This pre-season, against French side Bastia, he was presented with a chance one-on-one with the goalkeeper and Ragatzu nonchalantly dummied a shot on goal, committing the goalkeeper, before rounding his opponent with consummate ease and slotting in to an empty net.

“Incredible” screamed the commentator in describing the 18-year-old. Despite being in the presence of many established first teamers and internationals, Ragatzu never failed to give his team-mates the option of playing the ball in to his feet in and around the penalty area.

These are all great signs that there is a super player in the making here, however, there remains a dark side to this mercurial talent. Ragatzu, it would seem, has a fiery temper that boils over from time to time.

In Cagliari’s youth sides Ragatzu, despite his prolific goal scoring records, was often involved in confrontations with the opposition which led to a red card on more than one occasion.

This was clearly illustrated just this summer during the same pre-season friendly for Cagliari against Corsican neighbours Bastia. It was an impressive start by both Cagliari, and Ragatzu in particular. With the Rossoblu leading 3-0 with 15 minutes to go, the game descended in to chaos.

Before this ugly incident that culminated in the match being abandoned, Cagliari had produced some delightful football. After taking the lead through Alessandro Matri, gli Isolani added a shine to the score sheet with two beautifully taken goals by young Ragatzu.

Both goals came when Ragatzu, marked tightly by Bastia’s deep-lying defence, found half a yard of space away from his marker. He was then cleverly found, firstly by Jeda and then Alex Pinardi with pin-point through balls. Critics could argue that both chances were put on a plate for him by great passes, but many strikers would not have got in to the positions that Ragatzu found to convert these opportunities. It is especially encouraging that he is able to do this at just 18.

Then came what can only be described as a brawl. After a late challenge by a Bastia player on Jeda, fellow team-mate Joaquin Larrivey took it upon himself to confront the opposition about the poor tackle. Scenes escalated from there and before long every player and some coaching staff were involved in the mêlée. In the video footage Ragatzu can be seen throwing a punch at the opposition.

Subsequently he was fined €10,000 and given a one match ban which means he will take no part in Cagliari’s opening game of Serie A against Palermo. This is especially disappointing given his impressive form in the close season and now he must wait to see if this incident will delay any future first-team opportunities that seemed inevitable before the controversy.

Bisoli will need to control Ragatzu, who, at the moment, is a raw talent. However the possibilities are endless if he can keep is cool on the rest of the pitch as well as he does in front of goal. Once he is able to do this, Ragatzu will be able to play an important role for Cagliari now and not just a player seen as one for the future.

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