Best Young Serie A players of 2021

Sat 18 September 2021 | 7:30

2021 was one hell of a year both for Serie A and Italian football in general. So let’s take a look at some of the exciting young players this league had to offer to see who are the best young Serie A players of 2021:

After nearly a decade of Juventus dominating the Serie A and teams like AC Milan and Inter Milan falling from grace, as neutral football fans it was great to see those two giants awaken once again to tip the scales of power in Italy. This resulted in the 2020-21 Serie A season being one of the best in recent memory and in fact the most competitive in Europe’s best 5 leagues. The season culminated with Inter Milan winning the scudetto after a decade after a hard-fought title race with AC Milan and Juventus.

Then Italy went on to win the Euro 2020 when no one even consider them as favorites but what was all apparent both throughout the season and also at the Euros was the incredible amount of young talent that were the driving force behind this revitalization of Italian football. which brings us to this article, where we try to single out some of these

best young Serie A players of 2021


9 young players to watch in Serie A

While coming up with the names on this list, we have tried to pick as diversely as possible when it comes to the position of the players as well as their respective teams. Also keep in mind that these 9 young players to watch in Serie A were all under 23 years of age during last season despite some of them being 24 now!

Achraf Hakimi

We start our list of

best young Serie A players of 2021

with a player who, weirdly enough, is no longer in Serie A and that player is the incredible Achraf Hakimi. We previously included Hakimi in our list of

best Serie A defenders

of the last season and we would be remiss if we didn’t include the


here too. While Hakimi spent only a season at Inter Milan, the right-back instantly became a hit and massively helped in Inter’s efforts towards winning the league which is why so many fans were saddened by him leaving the club to join PSG this summer.

Although he is a right-back, looking at his stats reveals that Hakimi didn’t do much defending last season as he was very much used as an attacking wing-back, to the point that even Hakimi’s inclusion on our list of best defenders was mainly because of his attacking contributions as a defender. but the fact that much of Inter Milan’s attack plans were centered around him tells you of the qualities Hakimi possesses.

As an attacking fullback, Hakimi operated as one of Inter’s main sources of creativity. He would often use his considerable amount of technique and speed to get past defenders and either cut into the box or cross when he reached the opposition’s final third which is why he was among the top crossers in the league providing 105 crosses last season. he also had a fair amount of interceptions (48) and blocks (61) last season, making him a worthwhile defender as well.

With 8 assists Hakimi is one of the best assist providers at Inter but more interestingly is the fact that Hakimi is Inter’s third-best goal scorer with 7 goals, behind Lukaku and Martinez. He is on a level with Sanchez for goals scored and has a better record than him in regards to assists, which is just crazy since he is a defender. it’s no wonder that PSG didn’t hesitate to bring Hakimi to Paris since he so clearly is one of the

best young football players

in Europe.

Nicolo Barella

Not only Nicolo Barella is one of the 9 young players to watch in Serie A, he might also be one of the best midfielders in Europe right now.

Inter’s playmaker

has had a brilliant couple of seasons where after massively helping in Inter Milan’s efforts to finally win the Serie A last season, he went on to help Italy win the Euro 2020 despite them being considered as underdogs of the tournament. It has been a while since Italy and Inter Milan had a


as good as Nicolo Barella and that is precisely why we previously listed him as one of the

best players of the 2020-21 season

as well.

At Inter, Barella usually tends to play as a box-to-box midfielder or even a


who has permission to roam freely. His considerable amount of technique allows him to dribble past defenders and create space for Inter. Spaces that he could then exploit by either taking long shots, at which he is extremely good at or create chances for Inter’s strikers.

His ability to create space and then exploit it to perfection can be seen in his progressive passes, especially in the final third. In terms of progressive passes, Barella is 6th in the league with 226 passes but what actually separates him from the rest is not the quantity of these passes but the quality of them, especially in his short passes which have a 91% completion rate. He is also better than any player in the league in terms of successful passes under pressure, which speaks to his level-headedness specifically when he is in the final third, a skill any great playmaker must possess

Apart from his build-up contributions to the team, Barella has also been a part of the end product of the attack as well where he has scored 3 goals and assisted 7 times, becoming one of the pillars of Conte’s Inter Milan. Neither Inter Milan nor Italy would’ve had the success they had in 2021 if it wasn’t for Nicolo Barella, a player that perhaps best epitomizes the state of Italian football in the past couple of years. young, exciting and hungry for success.

Davide Calabria

The first AC Milan player on our list of Serie A’s

best young footballers of 2021

is none other than Davide Calabria, who was a delight to watch last season as he became one of the main reasons behind Milan’s strong performances in the first half of the season. a product of AC Milan’s own academy, Calabria has gradually become a staple of AC Milan sides under different managers and now is a vice-captain at the club. his fullback partnership with Theo Hernandez was incredible to watch as both youngsters surprised everyone with their performances.

While originally, Milan considered him a back-up to Conti, Calabria soon replaced him as the first-choice right-back due to the latter’s recurring injuries. Davide Calabria is the very image of a modern full-back, who has blistering pace and technique that helps him immensely going forward. His pace and stamina also allow him to recover his position pretty well and not be caught out of position on the counterattack. While he is impressive going forward, compared to his partner at the left flank Calabria tends to attack much less to help Milan keep their defensive shape.

Regarding his defensive stats, Davide Calabria was the best tackler in Serie A last season by a large margin. His 3.2 tackles per game is a full point higher than the second-placed Manuel Locatelli with 2.4 tackles per game. He also boasts of 2 clearances and 1.4 interceptions per game as well as 2 goals and an assist which makes him one of Milan’s best players. A complete defender who is not only one of the best young Serie A players of 2021 but also deserves to be called one of the

best right-backs

in the world as well.

Manuel Locatelli

One of the most discussed players of the summer and in fact the 2020-21 season was none other than Manuel Locatelli. The Italian box-to-box midfielder was not only one of the best in Serie A but he was also one of the best young football players around the world. Proven by the massive role he played for Italy on their way to win the European Championship this summer. Originally a product of the AC Milan’s academy, Locatelli decided to try his luck at Sassuolo after he failed to lock in a starting place at Milan and it seems that he chose incredibly well as the move has worked out pretty well for him.

Locatelli joined Juventus this summer on a loan deal with an obligation to buy after a long transfer saga that also included clubs like Arsenal but he spent the last season, like the previous two before it, at Sassuolo. But the 2020-21 season was definitely the best he had at Sassuolo as he was one of the best midfielders in the league, especially when it came to ball distribution.

As far as the short passing and average pass per game go, Locatelli led the league last season with an average of 80.9 passes per game and a total of 1077 short passes completed which is more than any player in the league. he was also among the top 5 for both medium-range passes and long passes amongst outfield players. Stats also showed that a significant amount of Locatelli’s passes were completed under pressure which shows that despite being very young, Manuel Locatelli knows how to handle pressure and move the ball forward. Locatelli was also the league’s 3rd best tackler last season which shows how complete of a midfielder he is.

His amazing ball distribution alongside his considerable amount of defensive work as well as his attacking contribution that saw Manuel Locatelli score 4 goals and assist 2, makes him one of the best young Serie A players of 2021. With


lacking in creativity and fight in midfield in recent years, Locatelli seems like the perfect addition to the Bianconeri’s squad and could very well become one of their key players, given enough time to develop under Allegri.

Franck Kessie

AC Milan was at the top of the Serie A for half of last season which was largely down to two players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Kessie. the now 24-year-old midfielder was the link between Milan’s incredible defense and impressive attack and one of the best midfielders in Serie A last season. despite his young age, Kessie is a born leader and has a commanding presence on the field which has shaped Milan’s character in the past couple of years as the Ivorian has increasingly become one of their most important players.



having two of the best full-backs in Serie A in Calabria and Hernandez, they needed someone to anchor the team when they go full-on attacking which is where Kessie comes in. as a versatile midfielder who is capable of turning the defense into attack as well as preventing threats, Kessie’s job is perhaps the most important at the heart of the midfield.

As well as his impressive ability to stop opposition attacks with his tackles, Kessie was also the midfielder with the most amount of blocks last season (75). He was also a decent passer of the ball, although much of Milan’s distribution was down to Hakan Calhanoglu. However, all of Frank Kessie’s contributions were not defensive as he offered Milan a lot going forward. With Zlatan missing due to injury for most of the season, Kessie continue on as Milan’s main penalty-taker and he managed to score an impressive amount of 13 goals (11 of which were from the spot). He also had 4 assists.

With his contract coming to an end next summer, AC Milan cannot afford to lose yet another valuable player and an established leader like Franck Kessie leave on a free, the way they lost Hakan this summer. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that Kessie was one of the best young Serie A players of 2021 and will be a vital player for Milan going forward if they wish to get back to their old glory.

Federico Chiesa

Son of the former Fiorentina striker, Enrico Chiesa, Federico Chiesa seems to have overtaken his father in terms of achievement already. The 23-year-old is one of the best young football players around Europe and has been a great asset to both Juventus and Italy national teams in the past year or so. A product of Fiorentina’s youth academy, last summer Chiesa joined Juventus on a loan deal with an obligation to buy and has been one of Juve’s best players outperforming even veterans like Paolo Dybala.

A versatile player that mainly is deployed on the right-wing, either as a winger or sometimes even a wing-back, Chiesa uses his blistering pace, dribbling skills and positional awareness to get into dangerous areas and create goalscoring opportunities, either for himself or his teammates. This was most apparent in the Euro 2020 where he played a significant role by scoring two vital goals against Austria and Spain in the knock-out stages of the tournament, both of which came after he intelligently exploited the space behind defenders.

Although his first season at Juventus didn’t end with him being crowned Italy’s champion, Chiesa helped the club win the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana. After scoring 8 (14 in all competitions) and assisting another 8 in Serie A, he was called up to the national team where he helped Italy become Champions of Europe and was even named in the Team of the Tournament for Euro 2020. At 23, Chiesa is not only one of the best young Serie A players of 2021 but he is already a superstar.

Dusan Vlahovic

No matter who you support, there is something really exciting about a young player having a breakout season and performing way beyond what is expected of him. This is exactly what happened to anyone who saw


’s Dusan Vlahovic terrorize Serie A defenders last season. while the Serbian center forward has been at Fiorentina for 3 years now, he took his game to a whole other level last season when he became one of the

9 young players to watch in Serie A

and one of the league’s top goalscorers.

Joining from Partizan in 2018, Vlahovic played a bit-part role in his first season but came into his own in the 2019-20 season where he managed to score 8 goals in all competitions for Fiorentina. Even then scoring 8 goals as a teenager was considered a great achievement but no one expected Vlahovic to score as many as he did in the 2020-21 season where the Serbian


scored an impressive amount of 21 goals in the Serie A alone, becoming the competition’s fourth-best top scorer of the season behind the likes of Ronaldo, Lukaku and Luis Muriel.

Vlahovic who is only 21 right now, showed all the characteristics of a great center forward in the making and barring any significant injury, Vlahovic could very well grow to be one of the best in the world in the decade to come. As one of the best young Serie A players of 2021, many thought that his impressive season would be a one-off but the 5 goals in 4 appearances that he has already scored this season show that he is far from being a one-season wonder and is on his way to greatness.

Theo Hernandez

The last AC Milan player on our list of Serie A’s best young footballers of 2021 another one of their fullbacks, Theo Hernandez, who joined Milan from Real Madrid at the start of the last season in a deal that could go up to €20 million. And judging by his excellent performances and seamless assimilation into the first-team squad, it is a price that Milan is happy to pay and honestly considering how good Hernandez has been, it seems like a bargain in today’s market.

Theo alongside his brother Lucas, who is also a left-back who plays for

Bayern Munich

, both were brought up in

Atletico Madrid

’s youth academy, a club where their father used to play at. While Lucas found his way to Atletico’s first team, Theo found his way to Real Madrid but as you can imagine it wasn’t that easy to break into Madrid’s first team and so Theo proved his worth on a season-long loan at Sociedad which eventually earned him a move to Milan in 2019.

An attacking left-back, who constantly bombards the opponent’s flank, Theo is able to provide both goals and assists for Milan judging by his 7 goals and 5 assists from last season. but that is not what his game is all about as the Frenchman is quite good at defending too, registering 1.5 tackles and 1.5 clearances per game which are solid numbers for an attacking full-back.

Hernandez’s partnership with Calabria who are both led by the veteran, Simon Kjaer, at the back promises a great future for AC Milan, something that may be already here judging by how great they were last season and continue to be this season. So it’s of no surprise that Theo Hernandez is included in our list of best young Serie A players of 2021. 

Lautaro Martinez

sLautaro Martinez might be one of the smartest transfer deals that has happened in Serie A over the past few seasons. In fact, the whole Inter side that won the scudetto last season was full of smart transfers like Nicolo Barella, Romelu Lukaku and Martinez himself but Inter’s return to power could very well be traced back to when they acquired the impressive Argentine striker back in 2018 from the Racing Club. fast forward a couple of seasons later and Martinez now has played an instrumental part in

Inter Milan

’s 19th league title and has in the process become one of the best young footballers of 2021.

After joining Inter in 2018 and having a decent first season, Antonio Conte’s arrival as manager and Romelu Lukaku joining as Martinez’ partner in attack, took the Argentine’s game to a whole other level which brought quite a lot of interest from La Liga clubs, especially Barcelona, during the 2019-20 season to sign Lautaro Martinez. But as the pandemic hit and clubs fell under financial hardship, Inter found a silver lining in the situation as Martinez seemed to go nowhere. So they built on their success and went all in for the Serie A title, which they claimed, in huge parts thanks to Martinez’s contributions in the attack.

Martinez started the majority of last season’s games alongside Romelu Lukaku as Conte preferred to have two strikers instead of an isolated striker with wingers around him. This suited both players perfectly as they became a one-two punch that knocked almost every defense in Serie A out. With 17 goals and 6 assists in the league, Lautaro went on to have his most impressive season at Inter and help the Milan giants to win the scudetto.

Apart from his sharp eye for goal, Lautaro is also a supremely gifted technical player who creates a lot of opportunities for his teammates, either by providing the pass or creating the space for his teammates by his runs. There is no doubt that the Argentine was among the

best young Serie A players of 2021

and best players in general and he further proved that by helping Argentina win the Copa America as well in the summer of 2021.



source: SportMob

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