by Tom Lees - 4th January 2016
Young Italian midfielder Rolando Mandragora has been linked to a number of big clubs as we approach the January transfer window, with Juventus seemingly leading the chase ahead of Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain, but who is Rolando Mandragora?
A product of the Genoa youth system, Mandragora has represented Italy at Under 17, 18, 19, and Under 21 levels, although not exactly bursting onto the scene, Mandragora showed a high level of class and composure at the base of the Italian midfield, as he dictated the play around him. The midfielder would go on to make his professional debut for Genoa in October 2014, aged 17, in a 1-0 victory against Juventus. 4 further appearances would follow for the Rossoblu that season before his career really started to gather momentum with a summer loan move to Serie B side Delfino Pescara.
Although playing at a lower level, the move to Pescara has enabled Mandragora to gain valuable regular first team experience, where he has settled into the midfield as a deep lying playmaker, oozing class as he orchestrates play with his wand of a left foot. Not too long after his loan move to Serie B, and his regular exposure to first team football, Mandragora was promoted to the Italian Under 21 setup where he has again featured heavily. Because of his performances for Pescara, the comparison was quickly made to compatriot and fellow midfield gem who represented the Delfini, Marco Verratti. Verratti was another player that Juventus were heavily linked with before losing him to PSG, and they will be desperate not to lose out on Mandragora if another bidding war ensues this season.
Mandragora has a relaxed elegant style of play, as if he can anticipate everything before him, he shows great technique, vision to not only spot a pass but the composure and quality to find it. Able to track back when necessary, control the tempo of a match and seemingly unaffected by pressure, he has the look of a man who will be key player in the Italian national team for a long time. As a nation that has produced World class playmaking midfielders such as Demetrio Albertini and Andrea Pirlo in recent times, Mandragora has the ideal legends to try and emulate, and together with Verratti in the middle of the pitch, will be responsible for any future success the Azzurri achieve.
Rolando Mandragora is still only 18 years of age, he is at the start of his career, finding his way into the game. It is clear from the stylish way he operates and owns the midfield that his name is destined for much bigger and better things, probably sooner rather than later. I’m expecting a quick progression from young Italian with promise, to a global wonder kid who delivers the goods.