If you’d listened closely enough, you could have heard the sound of hundreds of thousands of laptops being opened around the United Kingdom when the lockdown was officially announced.
With no football, no work, and no pubs to keep us entertained, we all returned to an old flame – Football Manager. The game which consumes your days, nights, and dreams.
One day you’re embarking on a new career with a team you know next to nothing about, and the next you’re partaking in imaginary press conferences while enjoying your morning shower…just me on that one?
But with the beginning of every career comes the most important – and let’s face it, the most exciting part of your time as the new manager at your next project. The transfer market.
There’s nothing more rewarding than plucking a young lad from obscurity and watching him grow into the very next star of European football. But since you’ve probably exhausted the different alternatives available in the Premier League’s transfer markets, you may need to broaden your horizons in these times of repetitive nothingness.
And one country which is witnessing some of the most prosperous and impressive youngster blossom is Italy.
So 90min is on hand to be your very own scout, and we’ve provided you with a shortlist of 16 up-and-coming Serie A stars who will improve your squad from the get-go. Without further ado, let’s dive straight in.
Nikola Milenkovic – This season was supposed to be Milenkovic’s coming of age, but frankly, it’s been a campaign to forget for Fiorentina. Still, FM rates the Serbian centre-back very highly, and with the right nurturing, he could be a cheap signing if you snatch him early on in your career.
Luca Pellegrini – Former Roma, now Juventus, but on loan at Cagliari star Luca Pellegrini is well-travelled for a young defender, and he’ll probably be up for sale in a couple of years on your next career. Snap him up, and reap the rewards of a bombing wing-back.
Sandro Tonali – Tonali’s rise to stardom has been well-documented, and the apparent heir to Andrea Pirlo’s throne is exactly that in our virtual world, too. Tough tackling, box-to-box and a playmaker, the teenage Italian has got the lot.
Rolando Mandragora – Why on earth did Juventus sell this guy?! Well, mainly because they have about 54 midfielders on their books, but still. Now at Udinese, Mandragora is a proper baller in midfield, a deep-lying playmaker who will dictate the game for you against every level of opposition.
Nicolas Dominguez – A 21-year-old Argentinian holding midfielder, Dominguez possesses all the traits to become a future star of the game. With great passing, vision and work rate, the Bologna man is the ideal candidate to dominate the pitch.
Nicolo Zaniolo – One of the best players in the world. A versatile footballer, Zaniolo can do a job in the centre of midfield, in a trequartista role or out wide – he has got the lot. Pace, power, strength, and the deftest touch in the business, you’d be mad not to break the bank for him.
Alessio Riccardi – If you can’t afford the likes of Zaniolo, why not nurture Roma starlet Riccardi, instead? The teenager is making waves in I Giallorossi’s Primavera at the moment, and he is showing all the right signs of becoming a superstar. Patience is key, but the payoff is gargantuan.
Sebastiano Esposito – A 16-year-old wonderkid waiting to burst onto the scene at Inter. Why don’t you snap up this deadly finisher before he escapes your price range in a couple of years time?
Dušan Vlahović – A highly-rated 20-year-old forward,
Cengiz Under – Under may have threatened to become a superstar for a couple of seasons at Roma, but on FM this Turkish winger is the real deal. A right-sided inside forward, Under chips in with a healthy number of goals and assists, but his dynamic dribbling makes him a menace for any defender.
Andrea Pinamonti – The hype surrounding Pinamonti in Italy is real. The 20-year-old is one of the most exciting attacking prospects in Serie A, and after bossing the Under-19 European Championships and the Under-20 World Cup, he’s ready to prove his worth on the big stage – in a better side than Genoa.