He is a normal boy with a pair of normal boots, dancing past the bulkiest of defenders normally with the trickeries that are, however, far from normal. Some find distinctive similarities between his movements with the ball on his feet and that of Lionel Messi. He is called “Rubin’s dazzling tiny dancer” — perhaps not the one possessing Michael Jackson’s flamboyant moves but the one currently endeavouring to ensure a bright tomorrow for Georgia as a footballing nation. He is Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
The 20-year-old winger has been one of the main attractions for the last few days when it comes to Juventus and their summer transfer targets. A report from Tuttosport (via Calciomercato.com) claims that Juventus are one of the many European clubs, including Bayern Munich, that seem interested in securing the services of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia this summer.
So, who is this Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, also known as the “Georgian Messi”?
Full name: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
Date of Birth: February 12, 2001
Place of Birth: Tbilisi, Georgia
Height: 1.83 m
Market Value: €15 million (via Transfermarkt)
Young Kvaratskhelia’s career so far…
Having turned 12, Khvicha joined the youth academy of Dinamo Tbilisi — a club in Georgia where Badri Kvaratskhelia, Khvicha’s father, had previously plied his trade. Following a run of decent performances, Khvicha was called up by Georgia U17s for the first time in September 2016.
From there, he ended up scoring 15 goals in 21 appearances, apparently ringing the alarm bell across the country and eventually the continent. In 2017, he made his first senior appearance for Dinamo Tbilisi — his hometown club.
One year later, he joined FC Rustavi, a Georgian side where Khvicha’s father embarked upon his journey as a professional footballer. By the time Khvicha developed a reputation for footballing reasons across Europe and caught the eyes of scouts from Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern Munich, he was already an appealing name playing in the U-18 national side.
While spending the latter half of the 2018/19 season on loan at Lokomotiv Moscow from Rustavi, he racked up his maiden goal in the Russian Premier League, against none other than Rubin Kazan. Yury Semin, the then Lokomotiv Moscow manager, was so overjoyed and stunned by the quick feet of Khvicha that he immediately demanded a permanent deal for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Winning the Russian Premier League Best Young Player for his eye-catching performances in the 2019–20 campaign and the Georgian Footballer of the Year in 2020, Kvaratskhelia has pocketed four goals and four assists from 22 league appearances this season thus far.
What are the notable attributes of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia?
As mentioned earlier, Kvaratskhelia is naturally a left-winger but could well do the job on the right-wing and attacking midfield if the occasion demands.
A shrewd runner with the ball, the 20-year-old dominates the left side of the pitch with his dangling legs, averaging 2.3 shots per game, 1.5 key passes, and 3.5 attempted dribbles this season (as per the stats from WhoScored.com).
Furthermore, he has completed 22 passes per game with a decent accuracy of 76.4 per cent. He possesses the close control of a prime Eden Hazard and an adorable aerial threat due to the frame of 6ft.
And despite being relatively bigger than Eden Hazard in structure which suggests he doesn’t get the natural aid of the low centre of gravity, Kvaratskhelia is found ghosting past defenders with utter ease.
As far as the videos available online denotes, he is more of an inside-forward who is likely to cuts inside rather than an out-and-out winger who finds the foreheads of his peers with well-measured deliveries from the wide areas. Therefore, he enjoys taking on defenders, running at them with full pace, more like Eden Hazard, Marcus Rashford, and an adolescent Cristiano Ronaldo.
What could he offer to Juventus?
Should Juventus continue playing in the 4-4-2 formation, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could be deployed as one of the two wide midfielders. Federico Chiesa, formerly a winger at Fiorentina, has done exceptionally well while occupying the wide midfield role. The Italian is thought to be the most influential player of the 2020-21 season after Cristiano Ronaldo for the Old Lady.
The successful application of Andrea Pirlo’s principles and on-field tactics that rely heavily upon his team’s pressing and counter-pressing could be benefited by Kvaratskhelia’s hard-working legs and blazing pace. Far from a finished article, he needs further working on his hold-up play, though.
Should he be deployed as a wide midfielder, he needs to learn how to shield the ball or draw a foul instead of losing possession cheaply — one of the rare weak points in his individual game. Kvaratskhelia’s admiration for playing out accurate long balls could be effective on the counter-attacks for Juve.
6ft, Kvaratskhelia could be a beneficial asset while defending set-pieces as well. Amidst the financial crisis inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Juventus will surely be looking to pull off some business that reflects their brainpower over their economic muscles this summer. Nevertheless, it would be naive to think of him getting substantial minutes under his belt right away if he eventually joins the Bianconeri in the approaching window.
He could be sent out on loan to other Italian sides that would help him gain some experience of playing senior-level football on Italian soil or could join the U23 Juventus side to initiate a fresh start. Anyway, he is a star in the making for European football and especially his homeland Georgia.