The Serie A title race has been one of the most engrossing title races in Europe this season. As Juventus’ downfall has continued, the young bustling squads of Inter and Milan have come to the forefront. Now Serie A has become a platform for stars to have breakout campaign.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) May 17, 2022
This in turn has given a platform to young players all around Serie A to showcase their talents, which has not always been the case in Italy. We at FootTheBall are here to bring you 10 stars that had a breakout 2021/22 Serie A season.
Pierre Kalulu has been exceptional alongside the ever impressive Fikayo Tomori, for AC milan this season. The Lyon academy graduate who is actually a right back has been dutized by Pioli at centre back due to the injury hit season Simon Kjaer is having.
The French defender is not as physically dominant as Tomori, but he has singled himself out as one the best defenders in Serie A. Kalulu’s defensive judgement is elite, as he has recorded a tackle success percentage of 77% which would rank him in the top 3 percentile of centre backs. Not only that he makes a remarkable 6.3 tackles and interceptions a game which ranks him in the top percentile for this metric amongst centre backs.
Do you think that the club should rely on him as the starting centre-back with Fikayo Tomori next season? 👀 pic.twitter.com/OtZDPiiHq7
— MilanReports (@MilanReportscom) March 10, 2022
He is a very capable ball carrier too. Pierre Kalulu has taken to his change in position like a duck to water, and has looked as comfortable starting play from the back as he looked dominating a flank as a full back. This season was definitely the 21 year old’s breakout season and looks like a capable elite defender. In fact his displays this season have been reminiscent of a young David Alaba. If Milan win Serie A this season Pierre would be given a lot of credit for his performances.
Bosko Sutalo has been a defensive beast for Hellas Verona this season. In limited minutes the Croatian defender has dominated Serie A strikers with ease. The 22 year old has finally managed to break the 20 appearance mark in the league. Sutalo has been on loan this season from Atalanta’s prolific academy.
He is a front foot defender who is also physically dominant. He takes no prisoners with his tackles and is in the mould of old school defenders.
OFFICIAL: Hellas Verona have signed centre-back Bosko Sutalo from Atalanta on a season-long loan. pic.twitter.com/yQXJZ5KPTs
— Transfer News Central (@TransferNewsCen) August 25, 2021
He makes 15.5 pressures a game, makes 2.3 tackles and 3.1 interceptions a game. An all round defensive behemoth, Sutalo is a dominant presence in the air too.
He is a decent progressive passer and carrier but since he plays in a not so prolific side in Verona his potential is surely higher than the Italian minnows.
Bosko Sutalo (20) 🇭🇷 vs Cagliari
• 69 touches
• 87% pass accuracy (47)
• 5 aerial duels won
• 1 clearance
• 2 interceptions
• 1 key pass
• 1 successful dribble
— Serie A Scout (@SerieAScout) July 5, 2020
He would make a lot of sense for a club like West Ham or Leicester.
The 22 year old Ivorian full back has been one of the best attacking full backs in Serie A this season. He has exploded into life this season with his performances for Torino earning him a lot of admirers across the continent. Standing at a cool 6ft 2in the Ivorian is blessed with pace and power. The flying full back has 3 goals and 3 assists in Serie A this season.
— The Scouting App (@scoutingapp) April 8, 2021
He loves breaking into the box with overlaps and underlaps. Singo completes 5 progressive carries a game and marries that with 1.4 dribbles a game, both elite numbers in the mentioned metrics. He even gets off 1.4 shots a game which is very high even for a marauding full back.
🇨🇮⚽️🇮🇹 Talent of the day: Wilfried Singo
Position: Right-Back, Full-Back
Club: Torino FC
Market Value: 500k
Similar type of player: Aurier, Walker.
Analyze to the Ivory Coast youngster 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/bkhUUChDQd
— Jaime (@jaimegncsilva) November 25, 2020
His defensive game definitely needs to improve since he only makes 4 tackles and interceptions a game, although his height allows him to win 2.1 aerial dules a game which is exceptional for a full back. But he has been excellent as an attacking wing back and with the defensive exodus bound to take place at Chelsea in the summer, he would be a smart signing for the Blues. Torino would look to cash in on him in the coming windows. Especially after his excellent performances in the Serie A 2021/22 season is his breakout season.
The only teenager on this list, Aaron Hickey has had a breakout 2021/22 Serie A campaign. After getting limited minutes in the season prior, this season the Scottish full back has stirred a storm this season in Italy. He has scored 5 and assisted 1 this season in the league for middling Bologna.
— Bologna FC 1909 (@BolognaFC1909en) February 17, 2021
His numbers on the surface are not outstanding,l but his underlying stats are supremely promising for a 19 year old. Despite not having exceptional defensive, attacking or progressive numbers at first, a deep dive into his stats showcases his potential. He only gets dribbled past 0.35 times a game, on the flipside he dribbles past 1.1 players himself during a game. His tackle success ratio is an outstanding 60%. Aaron only manages 0.34 shots on target but is still functioning at 0.13 non penalty expected goals, which is very high for a full back. This shows his finishing is prolific.
⚽️ No defender has scored more goals when excluding penalties in Europe's top five leagues than Aaron Hickey
🕵️ The 19-year-old is believed to be on the radar of a number of Premier League clubs this month
🏴 Scotland love a left-back! pic.twitter.com/7kcr14g5AA
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 5, 2022
Hickey is not exceptionally fast or strong but his technical prowess is second to none. Combine that with his remarkable decision making whether in defence or attack and you have a world class full back. His game style and sense is very reminiscent of a young Philip Lahm.
Sandro Tonali has been a known quantity for a while but this was arguably his breakout season in Serie A because of the quality of his performances. This season the 22 year old has finally proved to everyone why FIFA players have been drooling over him since the 2018 edition of the game. This season in all action displays from midfield he has scored 5 goals and assisted a further 2.
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) September 27, 2020
This season he has racked up 2555 minutes in the heart of the Rossoneri midfield. At his best he has looked like a deadly combination of Andrea Pirlo and Gannero Gattuso. He combines the guile and game intelligence of Pirlo with the steel, tenacity and fight of Gattuso.
— MilanNews.it (@MilanNewsit) September 13, 2021
He looks well set to become a world class box to box midfielder capable of playing any role in the middle.
Now we bring you two players who were playing their first full season in a top 5 European league. Szymon Zurkowski signed for Empoli in the summer window from his native Poland. His displays in Empoli’s midfield this season have made sure the club avoided the relegation zone.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) November 18, 2021
The oldest member of this list the Polish midfielder racked up 2218 minutes in Serie A in which he scored 6 times and assisted a further 2 goals. Blessed with pace and boundless stamina, he is a typical dynamic box to box midfielder.
He completes 1 dribble per 90, but completes 6.4 progressive carries a game which ranks him in the top 10 percentile of midfielders for the metric. He creates 1.5 chances a game and takes 1.9 shots himself. His defensive numbers are ridiculous actually. He makes 18 pressures a game and makes 6 tackles in interceptions per 90. Close to the elite number of Yves Bissouma who sits at around 7.5 a game.
Zurkowski will be an excellent pick up for the likes of Manchester United. Although a bit of a rogue shout for the Red Devils, he will fix a lot of their midfield problems in one go.
Teun Koopmeiners is a FootTheBall favourite. We have been fans of the Dutch midfield orchestrator for the last season. Finally he got his well deserved move to a top 5 European league in the summer, when Atalanta came calling. So this is arguably his breakout campaign. This season in Serie A the midfielder has become one of the best deep lying playmakers in the league. He has 4 goals and 1 assist from the deepest role in the midfield.
🇳🇱 Teun Koopmeiners created more chances (6), created more big chances (2) and completed more dribbles (2/2) than any other player in the Atalanta vs Juventus game.
— Mozo Football (@MozoFootball) February 13, 2022
He does not put up world class defensive numbers but his passing numbers are in a league of their own. When Atalanta picked him up we were certain that Koopmeiners would explode and it has happened, we feel slightly validated honestly.
He puts up exceptional progressive numbers and with his ability on set pieces he is always taking the right decisions.
Some might argue that last season was Raspadori’s breakout season, but we beg to differ. Last season in limited minutes whenever he got on the pitch the diminutive attacker showed his quality. This season although he has become an integral part of the Sassuolo attack.
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) April 25, 2022
The 22 year old has been dubbed the ‘next Paolo Rossi’ by the Italian media and rightly so. He is one of the best creative all round attackers in the league this season. He has scored 10 goals and assisted a further 4 in the league.
He is naturally gifted at finding space in the final 3rd. Raspadori receives 8.12 progressive passes a game which is remarkable for a young attacker. Giacomo is also heavily involved in play. After Dybala’s confirmed departure from Juventus, Raspadori can fill that hole at the Old Lady with ease.
A product of the Inter Milan academy, Andrea Pinamoti celebrated a decorated youth career with club and country. But he struggled to breakthrough at Inter, but since his switch to Empoli Pinamonti looks like a solid Serie A striker capable of 15 goals a season. This season the 22 year old has 13 goals and 2 assists.
3 – Andrea #Pinamonti is one of the only 4 players born after 01/01/1999 (alongside Vlahovic, Diaz and Leao) to have scored at least 3 goals in the Serie A 2021/22. Worthy.#SalernitanaEmpoli pic.twitter.com/nI7qrY7rYZ
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) October 23, 2021
He is the traditional number 9. Always capable of finding space in the final 3rd. He is decently fast and strong so can hold his own against defenders in situations.
Andrea Pinamonti doesn't get mentioned enough ⚽️🇮🇹
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) February 13, 2022
He is not very involved in play but manages to get 2.5 shots a game,which is good for a middling Empoli side. A pure finisher, he is lethal in front of goal and has powered the Empoli attack single handedly this season.
Gianluca Scamacca has burst onto the scene in Serie A and has been one of the standout breakout stars of the 2021/22 season in fact. The 23 year old is similar to Pinamonti but much more prolific and well rounded as an attacker.
8': ⚽ Giacomo Raspadori
26': ⚽ Gianluca Scamacca
Sassuolo find themselves two goals up away against Inter inside the opening half an hour! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CPiiOXIOJO
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 20, 2022
He has scored 16 goals this season in Serie A. Scamacca is a shot monster, he takes 3.3 shots a game but is functioning at 0.5 non penalty expected goals and assists per game.That is around the same as Sadio Mane. He is a prolific finisher and his shot location is outstanding. Very capable of finding space in the final 3rd, he receives 8 progressive passes per 90.
Scamacca is the poster child for the breakout stars from the Serie A 2021/22 season has he has suddenly become one of the best strikers in the league.