Prandelli’s pool of talent – forwards (part 2)

Forwards

Offensive summary

In the striker department, Italy appear to be on the brink of a golden age comparable to those of the late 60s, early 90s and early 2000s. It is unsurprising that Cesare Prandelli seems committed to a three-striker formation. The number of extraordinarily talented youngsters is offset against the presence of some highly unstable personalities among them and/or individuals who seem to have trouble finding their maturity. If properly bridled, this talent can become an unstoppable force which could be wielded into almost any tactical deployment. If it is not well-handled, though, it could easily implode. Prandelli has some very delicate management challenges ahead of him.

The forwards (M-Z)

Guido Marilungo (Atalanta)
Age: 21
Position: Trequartista/seconda punta
Description: The latest in the string of brilliant Sampdoria players sold by President Garrone, Marilungo is a seconda punta with a tremendous eye for finishing (an idiosyncrasy he shares with Alessandro Del Piero). With a past as a trequartista, he is clearly a player who can cover numerous roles. Certainly a name to watch.
Call-up: Uncertain
Stefano Okaka Chuka (Bari)
Age: 21
Position: Seconda punta/prima punta
Description: Exceptional amid his fellows if only for being so humble and prone to sacrifice, Okaka is definitely not one of the most talented strikers in Italy. Yet he has been improving at a slow and steady pace, and he can bring a physicality to the table that is unmatched by anyone but Balotelli. Think of him as a potential Luca Toni, but twice as fast on the run. Could become useful someday.
Call-up: Uncertain
Alberto Paloschi (Genoa)
Age: 21
Position: Prima punta
Description: The astonishing precocity of this ex-Milan youth has settled down into a more normal rate of growth, occasionally hampered by a couple of injuries. So far Paloschi has demonstrated tactical flexibility, a winning attitude and a real instinct for finding the back of the net. Judgments are postponed until he returns to playing with a major team.
Call-up: Uncertain
Giampaolo Pazzini (Inter)
Age: 26
Position: Prima punta
Description: A late bloomer, but has performed very well to date with the younger teams of la Nazionale. Generally agreed to be the best among the classic prime punte available in Italy (along perhaps with Borriello). Tactically acute and a natural finisher, he is also one of the best known partners for Cassano.
Call-up: Certain
Davide Petrucci (Manchester United)
Age: 19
Position: Trequartista
Description: The fulcrum of a great scandal when he was treacherously ‘snatched’ by Manchester United from the Roma youth camps a few years ago, Petrucci has all but vanished in oblivion since then. Fashionably billed the ‘new Francesco Totti’ for his supposed creativity and versatility as a trequartista, we are all still waiting for him to come out of the youth camps and prove his talent.
Call-up: Unlikely
Federico Macheda (Sampdoria/Manchester United)
Age: 19
Position: Prima punta
Description: Another young Roman snatched by Manchester United, from the Lazio barricades this time. Macheda made quite the sensation in his few games with the English team, scoring with consistency. He has failed to reproduce his form in Italy, where he has been on loan to Sampdoria, and it is uncertain what will be of his career in the next few years. Skilled, bold, and an excellent first-touch shot, Macheda needs a few more years to mature.
Call-up: Uncertain
Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
Age: 26
Position: Prima punta
Description: An imbalanced prima punta with good short-range dribbling skills and a solid ball control, but a little linear with his shot (he only seems precise when shooting with the inside of his right foot). He is good, but perhaps a little too much of a one-trick-pony to beat the competition.
Call-up: Uncertain
Fabio Quagliarella (Juventus)
Age: 28
Position: Seconda punta
Description: A unique seconda punta with a bizarre combination of technical attributes. Quagliarella has never been a very glamorous player, but he was the best Italian striker in the 2010 World Cup, and he can already boast experience, along with dribbling skills and the most dangerous long-range shot in Italy. He will certainly come back under consideration when he returns from injury next season.
Call-up: Likely
Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal)
Age: 24
Position: Seconda punta
Description: Giuseppe Rossi was not born in Italy, and his style of play has nothing of the Italian. This is his greatest selling point, as no-one else is in possession of quite his set of skills. A velocista with great ball-control on the run, lightning quick both in his dashes and in unleashing his monstrous left-foot shot (unexampled since Gigi Riva, in Italy), Rossi on the other hand comes short in tactical acumen and vision. Certainly a consistent goalscorer, but potentially abortive if not playing with and for the team. Another delicate case for Prandelli, who must find the way of making the most of this undoubted, but very untraditional, talent.
Call-up: Certain
Andrea Russotto (Crotone/Bellinzona)
Age: 22
Position: Trequartista/seconda punta
Description: A passing mention for this unfortunate phoenix of Italian football. Russotto’s complicated, involuted career has landed him in Serie B, where he is doing very well. He is still young, and a trequartista of great talent and humility, but it will take a real miracle for him to come back in time for 2014.
Call-up: Unlikely

Prandelli’s pool of talent

Goalkeepers
Central defenders
Full-backs
Registi
All-round midfielders and mediani
Wingers
Forwards (part 1)
Forwards (part 2)

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