If one was asked what the Italians were known for in terms of their football, people would mostly say their quality of defenders and producing some of the best no.10s to have graced the game. Rivera, Baggio, Totti, Del Piero have all enthralled and entertained fans with their combination of technical ability and their sheer pace.
But ever since the golden generation of Italian football withered away and also due to tactical revolutions taking place in other parts of Europe, Italy have yet to find a successor to this gifted list of footballers. Maybe, Until now!
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A glimmer of hope has come forward in the form of Empoli’s Tommaso Baldanzi. Part of the U-20 team that came runners-up in the FIFA 2023 U-20 World Cup in Argentina, Baldanzi could become the next big star for Italian football if nurtured properly. With this article, we take a look at his profile and style of play.
SCOUTING TOMMASO BALDANZI – PLAYER PROFILE
Mainly a left-footed player, Baldanzi started out right from the Empoli academy at the age of 8. Spending his academy days at the Empoli academy he was awarded the Primavera MVP during the 2019/20 season finishing the league with 14 G and 11 Assists.
He made his Serie A debut against Atalanta coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 away win.
He has represented Italy at various U-19 and U-20 events like the UEFA Euros 2022 held at Slovakia for the U-19 where they reached the semis. In 2023 he represented his country again at the FIFA World Cup U-20 where they came runners up. The question now is how long before Spaletti calls up Baldanzi to the National Team.
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TOMMASO BALDANZI – STYLE OF PLAY
Standing at 170 cm tall, Baldanzi isn’t the tallest player on the pitch but he is deceptively quick and has a low center of gravity.
Employed as a no.10 in a 4-2-3-1 that become a 4-3-3 or a 4-3-1-2 under Zanetti, Baldanzi is given the role of chief creator where like all traditional no.10 Baldanzi has to play between the lines and create and make space. This makes him spatially aware and he always looks around the pitch at how the opposition aligns their defense and where the defenders are, looking for any opportunity to occupy space left by a defender. He is always scanning the field and looking over the should to escape his marker and understand where space is.
Being a left-footed player, Baldanzi always likes to receive the ball mostly in the right half-spaces.
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Not being the greatest in terms of 1v1 and with a diminutive frame he needs to be clever in terms of his positioning to evade physical defenders. Therefore, he tends to drop off from where the play is occurring and take up positions away from the play but in the opposition half.
He likes to receive the ball on the turn and then proceed to dribble the ball forward to break the lines. He’s not the most progressive passer but he likes to dribble the ball more.
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He is quick to take up space vacated by the defender. In this sequence, Verona’s defender comes forward vacating his CB role which is duly occupied by Baldanzi which means he has created a 3v2 overload.
Still 20, Baldanzi has a lot of aspects to improve on his game, especially his off-the-ball skills. However given how Zanetti does not emphasize a high press, Baldanzi is mostly used to a man-oriented press by cutting off the passing lanes.
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While he had offers from Milan, Napoli and Inter Baldanzi decided to stay at Empoli to get more playing time in order to establish himself before he takes the next stepping stone.