Giacomo Raspadori had talked the talk in the build-up to Sassuolo’s clash against Juventus. On Monday night, he was presented with the ultimate opportunity to walk the walk.
“My ambition is to get to play there [for Juventus], at that level,” Raspadori told La Gazzetta dello Sport last week.
The Italian hinted in the interview that he sees himself as a suitable replacement for Paulo Dybala in Turin, with Juventus supposedly keen on striking a deal with Sassuolo this summer. And while the Neroverdi’s CEO Giovanni Carnevali said last month that his club would be “happy” to discuss a transfer with the Bianconeri, confirmed ahead of Monday’s game that talks are yet to get underway.
Thus, Juve’s trip to the Mapei was somewhat of an audition for young Raspadori. But the Italian international didn’t fold under the microscope, he seized the opportunity and strutted his stuff in front of an on watching Bianconeri hierarchy.
Did Giacomo Raspadori impress on his Juventus audition as the Bianconeri took on Sassuolo?
38 minutes into the contest, it was Raspadori who broke the deadlock with a well-struck near-post finish that caught Wojciech Szczesny off guard. A superbly-timed third-man run from the diminutive Italian flummoxed a flat-footed Leonardo Bonucci and he latched onto Domenico Berardi’s deft drag back before scoring.
That was the crowning sequence in an impressive display from the auditionee as he became the first Italian born in the 21st century to score ten goals in a Serie A season. The boy can play, that’s for sure.
Raspadori’s performance, though, wasn’t just about the goal. This was a mature display from the 22-year-old and an exhibition in space interpretation.
The Italian functioned as a trequartista playing off Gianluca Scamacca in Alessio Dionisi’s aggressive possession structure that often resembled a 3-1-5-1. However, he was given free rein to wreak havoc between Juventus’ lines and he frequently popped up in the central space behind Danilo before initiating swift combinations with his in-sync teammates around the Bianconeri box. The out of position Danilo simply couldn’t live with the astute movement of Raspadori, who received a game-high 11 progressive passes. In fact, 96.7% of the Italian’s pass targets were successful, such was the space he so often found himself in.
Admittedly, Raspadori’s performance doesn’t blow you away from a statistical perspective, but the eye test suggests that the Italian has the credentials to fill the void left by Dybala this summer. He’s pretty explosive, adept in tight areas, and incredibly smart without the ball.
Before his emphatic equaliser, Dybala had aided Sassuolo’s attacking effort more than Juve’s. The Argentine was sloppy and isolated in transition, while Raspadori was the prized cog in Dionisi’s well-rehearsed machine. There’s no doubting that the Italian has benefitted greatly from the coaching of first Roberto De Zerbi and now Dionisi, whose respective understandings of positional play and spacing in possession make life easy for Sassuolo’s attacking talent.
Thus, you do fear whether Raspadori, who only enhanced his reputation with the Juventus hierarchy on Monday ahead of a likely summer move, will be inhibited by Max Allegri’s coaching – or lack thereof – when Juve have the ball.
Is the 22-year-old capable of producing the off the cuff brilliance that Dybala sporadically can, or is he merely a product of the vibrant attacking system in Emilia-Romagna?
Raspadori’s gifted, that’s for sure, and he couldn’t have done much more to show off what he’s all about in front of his potential future employers. Now, it’s Juventus’ move.