Hidden In Plain Sight: Manuel Giandonato Growing Up Fast
As Frederick Sørensen continues to grab the limelight as the biggest talent to emerge from the Juventus youth system during the injury hit last few months, another player has had an equally meteoric rise, but one which is going largely unreported. Thanks to the Danish defenders instant impact a homegrown player has managed to make similar strides without garnering too much attention.
Quietly and unassumingly going about this in the same uncomplicated manner with which he plays, Manuel Giandornato made his first start for il Bianconeri in the Europa League tie with Red Bull Salzburg when Gigi Delneri had few options available to him. His entry into the starting XI meant Claudio Marchisio still played wide on the left however, rather than return to his more natural central midfield role.
It was not his Juventus debut however, that came in February this year when he made a late substitute appearance against Livorno. It says much of his talent however that when it came to a choice of players to promote from Giovanni Bucaro’s side Delneri went for the Primavera captain, despite already having cover in that position.
During the summer he was part of the Juve squad which successfully defended their Viareggio Tournament title and he as been representing his country since he made his debut for the Under 16 National team a few weeks before his fifteenth birthday. That rapid progress continued during the last International break when new Azzurrini coach Ciro Ferrara called the midfielder for the game against Turkey, and he made a faultless appearance as a second half substitute.
Perhaps it is his playing style that allows him to make this progression seem relatively straight forward. A deep-lying regista style central midfielder, he is excellent technically, an extremely accomplished passer with a keen eye for goal. This was proven in the 4-1 Primavera derby demolition of Torino two weeks ago when he scored an excellent goal against the cross-town rivals. Clearly admired by Delneri, the player himself has a keen sense of what he must do to make that leap to the first team permanently in the future;
"When you wear the shirt of Juventus the margin for error is very low in games and also in training. Is it pressure? Not really. Perhaps because having the role I play on the field I am accustomed since childhood to having pressure & responsibility. It’s a role that I like, so I willingly accept the responsibility and pressure that comes with it. In fact I use them to be stimulated to do better."
Citing Fernando Redondo and Xabi Alonso as the two players he aspires to be most like gives a great insight into how he views himself as a player and choosing two such classy champions as his inspiration is also pleasing. What is obvious is that the uniformity of formations throughout every team at the club is helping everyone who is called up to the first team understand Delneri’s system, having played it since May.
In recent Primavera games he has played a similar role to that performed by Melo, and with talk of Momo Sissoko’s departure growing daily perhaps he is even closer to being a permanent member of the main squad. Often training with the full side where Delneri can observe him more closely, he is almost always called up to the match day squads, which will also help. The rise to fame by his youth team colleague Sørensen has been a blessing for him, allowing him to continue working on his own game and Manuel Giandonato is definitely on the right path.