by Tom Lees - 10th December 2015
As a Nation that has boasted a number of legendary strikers in the past, Italy have recently been adopting a trial and error approach in trying to find the next frontman to lead the line. The search for the next Inzaghi, Vialli or Vieri looked to be over with the emergence of Mario Balotelli, but his attitude and drop of form have put a dramatic stop to his rise. Since then many other options have been tried, Graziano Pellè, Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile showed plenty of ability but none really proved they could be the goal getter the Azzurri are seeking. Young stars like Stephan El Shaarawy and Domenico Berardi have plenty of potential, but don’t fill the number 9 position, a new name needs to rise, it could be Federico Bonazzoli.
The young forward signed for Inter Milan at the age of just 7, going on to make his Serie A debut for the Nerazzurri aged 16 years, 11 months and 27 days, becoming the second youngest ever to play for Inter in the top flight. Although only gaining a handful of appearances for Inter, his impressive form in the Primavera and for the Italian National youth sides soon found his name on the radar of other clubs looking to utilise his undoubted talent. One such side was Sampdoria, who came to an agreement with Inter that Bonazzoli would join them at the end of the 2014/15 season for a reported €4.5 million. The deal was struck on 2nd February 2015, but the player would remain on loan at Giuseppe Meazza until the summer, a reported buy back option was also included in the deal, a sign that the Nerazzurri still had high hopes for the player’s development.
Although again at Sampdoria, first team football has been limited to a few substitute appearances, Bonazzoli is a regular in match day squads and many expect it to be only a matter of when, rather than if, he is soon leading the line in the first team. Also at International level, despite only being 18 years of age there are murmurings that he will soon be representing Italy at Under 21 level, another step towards becoming the striker the National team have been looking for.
Bonazzoli is a player that exudes confidence on the pitch, his great movement and magical left foot have drawn comparisons with the great Christian Vieri. He manages to find time in the area when there is none, hits the target with regularity and gives off the air of a player much older than his years. Some have labelled the young striker as being a little too selfish, maybe even arrogant with his play but as a striker that may not be such a bad thing. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has shown that, although he is a player that nobody should really be compared against.
With his strong physique and movement in and around the box, it perhaps surprising that Bonazzoli has not scored more headed goals, preferring to bring the ball down or strike from outside the area, with a left foot as lethal as his it is understandable, but his aerial ability may need some work to succeed at senior level. A forward that makes the game look easy, that he is better than those around him, he may not be to everybody’s taste but what is undeniable, Federico Bonazzoli has all the talent to make it at the highest level. Italy expects, Bonazzoli does not look like the type to disappoint.