In the least surprising news of the January transfer window so far, Juventus have hoovered up the latest Italian wonderkid to burst onto the Serie A scene.
Nicolò Rovella is only 19 years of age, but his seven displays at senior level for Genoa, coupled with his impressive performances for I Rossoblu in their primavera, have convinced I Bianconeri to splash €10m on the next big thing. The deal is completed, with only official confirmation to come.
The centre-midfielder is rated as one of the shining lights of calcio’s future, and it won’t be long until Roberto Mancini is calling on him to represent the big boys, too.
But just who is Rovella, and what is there to know about the child protege?
While Rovella may only be breaking into the public eye now, he has long been tipped for glory. In fact, Italian giants Milan and Inter both made moves to sign the midfielder back in 2014, when he was barely a teenager.
The two behemoths failed in their attempts to land his signature, and he instead entrusted Genoa with his development and rise to the top. It’s safe to say he won’t have any regrets over his decision.
Now on the verge of a move to Italy’s most successful club in recent history, he can look back and know he played his cards exactly right.
The deterioration in Juve’s stature from expected Champions League finalists to less than hopefuls has stemmed from their lack of midfield quality. Coach Andrea Pirlo is a man who knows a thing or two about the importance of a proper playmaker, and he will be ecstatic at Rovella’s arrival.
From what we have seen of the midfielder in Serie A and during his time in Genoa’s youth team, it’s clear he is comfortable collecting the ball in any position on the field, and there is a touch of Sergio Busquets about his ease at escaping even the most severe press. He loves picking up the ball from deep, evading opponents and moving possession up the pitch into dangerous areas. A great asset.
The youngster may not be ready to shoulder the responsibility of the Old Lady’s engine room yet, but give him time, and he could be the key to their success in the coming years.
He may be about to join Pirlo in Turin, but Rovella has long modelled his game on another midfield maestro. Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric is the teenager’s inspiration, and it is evident in the way he glides up the pitch that he has learned plenty from the Croatian star’s game.
The starlet’s bravery and fearlessness in possession strikes a strong resemblance to that of Modric too, and he has carried that courage from youth level to the heights of Serie A.
Modric has long been linked with a move to the Italian top flight, but he might not be needed once Rovella gets into the groove of professional football.
It takes some real cojones for a player aged only 19 to walk into a senior side and take control of all the set pieces. But when you’re as dangerous standing over a motionless ball as Rovella, it all makes sense.
He has become Genoa’s free-kick and corner taker since breaking into the side, and having scored a few set pieces for their primavera, (Click here for some glorious evidence) it makes a lot of sense.
His whipped corner deliveries have had many defences scrambling to clear the danger so far, and he poses a major threat both from open play and dead balls.
Although he is yet to get that all important maiden strike at senior level, it is only a matter of time until Rovella starts making it rain goals. The youngster has earned seven appearances this season, and he has come close to breaking his duck on a number of occasions.
But the most encouraging sign is how often he is able to drift into a goalscoring position undetected. He came close in clashes against Sampdoria, Inter and Hellas Verona, each time forcing drastic action from goalkeepers or defenders, throwing themselves in front of long range or acrobatic efforts.
The first one is the toughest, but once he’s over that bump, he could start racking up the goals for the Old Lady.
The ultimate test to understand how good a young footballer will be in the future, is clearly to check out their potential on Football Manager. And fortunately for Juventus supporters, the future is bright in this one.
Rovella is a proper star in the making with bags of potential, and that is reflected in his FM21 stats and growth. The latest update has the teenager valued at £775k with a price tag of £1.8m, and for that money, you’re getting yourself one hell of a midfielder.
He can play in a holding or more advanced role, operating as a box-to-box midfielder, segundo volante, mezzala, ball-winner – you name it, Rovella can do it. A steal.