The gifted attacker impressed during the recent European Under-21 Championship and has caught the eye of some top clubs
ALTHOUGH Italy crashed out of the European Under-21 Championship after to a 3-1 defeat to Spain at the semi-final stage, Fiorentina’s Federico Bernardeschi comes away from the tournament with his reputation enhanced.
The gifted attacker, who scored two goals in four games in Poland, including a superb solo effort in the loss to Spain, is wanted by several of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Our friends at Football Whispers have profiled Bernardeschi to see what makes him such a special talent and why he may soon be set for a big-money move.
Who is Federico Bernardeschi and where does he come from?
Born in Tuscany, Bernardeschi joined Fiorentina’s youth ranks at the age of nine. As the gifted attacker progressed through La Viola’s academy, it became apparent he had the capability of becoming a star and was capped at youth level for Italy.
At 19, he was sent out on loan to Serie B side Crotone for the 2013/14 season to gain valuable first-team experience and to mature physically in order to be ready for the demands of the Italian top flight. Bernardeschi impressed during his year with the Rossoblu, scoring 12 goals in 39 appearances, to the extent the club opted to exercise their option to acquire co-ownership of the youngster.
He returned to Fiorentina the following season, however, with the Tuscan side quickly working out a deal with Crotone that would see them re-purchase Bernardeschi’s full registration rights.
A senior Serie A debut came in September 2014, with manager Vincenzo Montella, who is now in charge of AC Milan, bringing the 20-year-old off the bench to play the final half an hour of a 0-0 draw with Genoa.
A first senior goal for Fiorentina arrived the following week in a 3-0 Europa League victory over Guingamp at the Stadio Atemio Franchi. The young winger finished the 2014/15 campaign with three goals from 10 appearances in all competitions.
Bernardeschi became a regular feature of La Viola’s line-up in the next campaign, making a total of 32 Serie A appearances, 25 of which as a starter. He scored just two goals and registered four assists that term, which showcased his immense potential but indicated he was struggling to find the level of consistency he would aspire to.
But last season the 23-year-old produced his best form to date. His talent has never been in question, but there had been growing doubts over Bernardeschi’s application – his performances, particularly in the second half of the campaign, demonstrated that he has taken a developmental leap.
Despite Fiorentina’s mixed results under Paulo Sousa, who has since been sacked and replaced by Stefano Pioli, Bernardeschi provided a measure of wonder and excitement for the club’s fans, scoring several stunning goals and conjuring moments of creative magic.
His return of 11 Serie A goals and four assists from 32 appearances made 2016/17 by far the most productive season of his career, with the player seemingly relishing being Fiorentina’s go-to attacking outlet, shouldering a large chunk of the side’s creative burden.
Stylistically, Bernardeschi is a left-footed right winger – although he is equally effective playing centrally as a No.10. He is a gifted dribbler who looks to cut inside onto his stronger foot to either aim for goal or pick out a colleague. The nine-cap Azzurri star has razor-sharp vision and possesses text-book shooting and passing technique.
Bernardeschi is also a fine crosser and a dead ball specialist, which was evidenced by a stunning free-kick against Borussia Monchengladbach in last season’s Europa League.
What is his most likely destination?
Italian champions Juventus are believed to be very keen on signing Bernardeschi this summer as manager Massimiliano Allegri looks to bolster his attacking options. The Bianconeri have reportedly lodged a player-plus-cash offer for the Fiorentina star.
Manchester United are another side said to be in the hunt for the 23-year-old. With Inter Milan playing hardball over Croatian winger Ivan Perisic, Jose Mourinho sees Bernardeschi as a backup option according to Mediaset Premium. He is also believed to be an Inter Milan and Chelsea transfer target.
How much will he cost?
It is unlikely Fiorentina will allow their prized asset to leave for anything less than £45million. Juventus have offered £40million according to Sportitalia but La Viola are holding out for a higher offer.