It’s pretty fair to say that the 2017/18 Serie A season is so far shaping up to be the veritable soap opera many hoped it would be.
Juventus have defied their doubters and won six out of their seven opening matches, while Napoli have steamrollered their way to the top of the league in emphatic style after winning every match.
Lazio have been the surprise package with some gutsy performances, while big spending AC Milan have thus far failed to deliver on what many had thought would be a rapid return to glory.
New boys Benevento have pulled a Crystal Palace, losing all their opening games, while former whipping boys Crotone have began to show signs of their ability to cling on to their Serie A status with remarkable determination.
For a league characterised by experienced, weather-beaten figures, the young blood have come out fighting and ready to prove their worth this season – and here’s seven youngsters who have taken the league by storm so far.
7. Milan Škriniar – Inter
If having the city as a name wasn’t enough to endear him with the fans, Škriniar’s rock-solid performances have made him a very popular figure at San Siro this season.
The 22-year-old is rightfully regarded as one of the most exciting defensive prospects in world football, and his anchor-like performances at the back for Inter so far this season will not have escaped the attentions of Europes top managers.
6. Lorenzo Pellegrini – Roma
While Lorenzo Pellegrini has been used sparingly by his manager so far this season, when he has been handed an opportunity to play he has been exceptional.
The 21-year-old has proven a midfield maestro, pulling the strings with a maturity of a player well-beyond his years.
The youngster particularly impressed when coming on against AC Milan last weekend, showing up the home side’s wealth of midfield talent with a superb display in the 2-0 victory.
5. Thomas Strakosha – Lazio
While AC Milan wonderkid Gianluigi is starting to come better known for throwing his toys out the pram than keeping clean sheets, Lazio’s Thomas Strakosha is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting keepers in the league.
The 22-year-old Albanian international’s stunning performances against Sassuolo before the international break topped off what has been a high-octane, all-action opening for his side.
Lazio’s hell for leather style of play has left the keeper exposed on a number of occasions, requiring his acrobatic brilliance to save his side’s bacon.
4. Rolando Mandragora – Crotone
Crotone surprised a lot of pundits by beating the relegation drop last season, and their dogged performances could be enough to see them hang on again in this campaign.
While it’s not exactly been champagne (or even prosecco for that matter) football from the Calabrians, 20-year-old Rolando Mandragora, who’s surname refers to a hallucinogenic plant, has produced a series of thoroughly dazzling performances.
The Juventus loanee is clearly a class above his teammates, but the midfielders desire to prove himself in Serie A is really working a treat.
3. Godfred Donsah – Bologna
Bologna are rumbling along reasonably well enough so far this year, and Godfred Donsah’s powerful midfield displays have been the real highlight of the performances.
The 21-year-old isn’t just a powerful lump in midfield, but also boasts quick feet and quality passing abilities.
Donsah has earned himself many an admiring glance from some of Europe’s top clubs, and Bologna will do well to keep the Ghanian star if his fine performances continue.
2. Federico Chiesa – Fiorentina
There is an extraordinary amount of hype around Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa, and so far this season he is justifying it with aplomb.
Son of the ludicrously talented Enrico Chiesa, young Federico has clearly inherited his father’s formidable footballing genes, and ensured his wonderkid status with a stunning strike.
Chiesa will be imperative to Fiorentina’s success this season, and the speedy winger could be the difference between the whether the side can challenge for the Europa League or not.
1. Nicolò Barella – Cagliari
Cagliari have endured a rocky start to this season, but the performances of Nicolò Barella have given their fans something to cheer about.
The 20-year-old has put in some dynamic midfield performances, including a man of the match showing in his side’s crucial 1-0 victory over Crotone.
The Italian under-21 international has a bright future ahead of him, and his youthful enthusiasm is certainly giving Cagliari a real edge to their play this season.