21 Midfielder Sassuolo Italy
Brilliant, flamboyant, combustible, and utterly wonderful at his best. A player you would love to have on your side when things are going well, and conversely you’d want to avoid like the plague when things aren’t. He’s a handful but we think IBWM’s official position will be one of love for a long time to come.
2015 has been…
…interesting, great to watch, and proof we’re looking at a future cult footballer.
If you’ve never watched Domenico Berardi we urge you to make the effort. Rarely does a performance go by without something that makes you smile and those four goals in that foggy game against Milan last year are a good place to start. He can undeniably be a match winner and Sassuolo has, so far, been the perfect environment for him to grow. At the time of writing he has a phenomenal record of goals and assists in Serie A appearances (51 combined in just over 70 games) and as Sassuolo’s story has developed from ‘plucky’ to ‘established top division club’, he has written his name large in their history.
There is an elephant in the room, one who’s just put his studs into another elephant’s chest and then screamed at the elephant referee. 32 yellow cards and 4 reds in just over a 100 appearances tells a story, a wonderful tale of a perpetually sinned against man who greets every card with outstretched arms and a classic “who, me? ME?!?” look. There’s no denying there’s a red streak in this young footballer and we hope as his career progresses it doesn’t cost him.
He plays on the edge which is fine but at some point you have to couple that with the maturity to understand that you can’t score goals sitting in the stands. He is, of course, only 21 with hundreds of appearances ahead of him to learn, but in the same way Wayne Rooney had to learn to temper the aggression so must Berardi.
His longer-term situation is slightly complicated. There’s a list of clubs a mile long who would love to take him but the surprise this summer was that Juventus agreed to sell their half of his ownership rights to Sassuolo as they were legally bound to resolve his situation. While that may look foolish, particularly when you consider it only took a mere €10m to do it, it’s been widely reported the deal was done for a year with an automatic buy-back clause of €18m to be activated regardless this summer. So not joint ownership, then, but totally joint ownership really. Juventus will be a step up and he will need to curb some of anger, but we’re excited already to see how he’ll handle the Champions League and the bigger stage.
This is an exciting and intriguing player, we meant what we said about him becoming a future cult figure, but first and foremost we’ll just enjoy him for where he is right now. The future’s unwritten for this young man, and that excites us greatly.
B Big, big future, following a rich tradition of brilliant Italian forwards liable to do something, anything, at any moment
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