Sandro Tonali is one of the best Italian youngsters in football today. The Brescia man’s first season in the Serie A is being hindered by his club’s poor form, but he’s been one of their best players regardless so links with clubs like Juventus are obvious and inevitable.
The 19-year-old has been Brescia’s regular defensive midfielder in their narrow 4-3-1-2 shape. Having played 17 times in the league, Tonali has played the full 90 minutes in 16 of those games. He has a tally of one goal and two assists, despite playing as the deepest midfielder.
While comparisons to Andrea Pirlo have come up, there is also a Rino Gattuso in him. He has won 1.2 tackles per game, making 0.9 interceptions per game. He has the immense ability to take the ball forward from deeper positions, as seen by his stat of completing 1.4 dribbles per game. What makes him arguably Pirlo-esque can also be seen in his ability to play 1.9 key passes per game.
He brings that tenacity to the heart of the park. That tenacity comes in all regards – be it in terms of winning it back or playing it forward. He is creative when carrying the ball forward and no-nonsense when winning it back.
Therefore it makes sense that Juventus are now drawing links with the Italian. The Bianconeri have very valid reasons to go after the youngster, who recently made his debut for the Azzurri.
This season, Juve are suffering from a lack of creativity in the heart of the park. The team is still getting used to playing in Maurizio Sarri’s way. Free signings Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are slowly coming to full fitness and sharpness, Sami Khedira is out injured, and Blaise Matuidi is not as technical as Sarri would want.
Miralem Pjanic has probably been their best midfielder, with Rodrigo Bentancur also racking up four assists. The lack of creativity in midfield is leading them to rely on Paulo Dybala.
So far this season, Tonali is playing more key passes per game than any other Juve midfielder. It is more than even Pjanic, whose tally stands at 1.6 per game while Bentancur’s tally is at 1.1 so far. It is a fair reflection of what is wrong at the club.
So far this season, Bentancur is completing 1 dribble per game – the highest for a midfielder at the Old Lady. That sluggishness in creation is largely because of how the midfield can be stagnant. A player like Tonali would help get rid of that stagnation.
To keep the ball moving is a huge demand for midfielder under Sarri. While Pjanic is averaging 68.6 passes per game, Bentancur’s passes per game stand at 40– same as Tonali, and when he isn’t exactly playing in a Sarri-like system as Brescia. And despite that, he is the second-best average passer at his club, tied with Andrea Cistana and only behind Stefano Sabelli.
He also has immense potential. Despite playing for Brescia and being so young, he’s already in contention for the Euros in 2020, as Roberto Mancini has been full of praise for him.
He said (via Daily Mail): “I want to stress again that he’s incredibly gifted and has clear margins for growth. I’ll get to know him better over the next few days.”
He is a youngster who is technical and would get rid of Juve’s problems in midfield, however, it doesn’t mean that it will be the end of their issues. They would need a Paul Pogba-esque midfielder, but Tonali can do what Allan did for Sarri at Napoli.
Pjanic is already well in the Jorginho role, with Juve still looking for that attacking midfielder. Tonali meanwhile fits right into the Allan role, and Juve need him now, more than ever.