This is the third edition of the U-21's series, where we highlight the best young players under twenty-one from leagues around the globe. Today's installment is examining Serie A, Italy's top league.
Amadou Diawara, 19, CDM
At just 19 years of age, Amadou Diawara is certainly making his mark on the football world. The youngster has already made 25 appearances for Napoli over the course of this season, including six in the Champions League. With creators like Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens up front for Napoli, Diawara is able to excel in a more defensive midfield role without the pressure to make an immediate offensive impact. Especially for being so young, the Guinean seems to have fantastic composure and touch when he is tasked with facilitating the ball to his teammates from a central role. If Napoli is able to keep the core of players they have now for a few more years, with Amadou Diawara at the forefront, they might be able to top Juventus for the league title.
Franck Kessié, 20, CDM
One of the most physically imposing players in all of football, Franck Kessié is only beginning to show his true potential. For now, Kessié is playing a defensive midfield role for Atalanta, but it appears that his days in northern Italy are coming to a close. Big clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Roma have all reportedly been after the Ivorian. If Kessié keeps developing as he has, showing the same physical and technical prowess, there is no reason why a move to a top European club should be out of reach.
Gabriel Barbosa, 20, RW
Before his move to Inter, Gabriel Barbosa was yet another talented Brazilian attacker flourishing at Santos. Barbosa possesses fantastic skill and technique, as most Brazilian youngsters tend to, which enables him to be extremely effective attacking up the right flank. Inter Milan splashed out nearly €30,000,000 for Gabriel Barbosa, but manager Stefano Pioli has elected to keep him on the bench for the time being. The Brazilian has only made eight total appearances this season, totaling 153 minutes. Even in his limited role, Gabriel Barbosa has left a lasting impression that has put him among the best young players in all of Europe.
Lorenzo Pellegrini, 20, CM
After working his way up through AS Roma's junior squads, opposing Serie A side Sassuolo brought Lorenzo Pellegrini in to anchor their midfield. Pellegrini is extremely confident in the attacking third of the field, consistently making smart, timely runs from midfield, as well as burying the occasional long shot. The Italian has great numbers this season, stacking up eight goals to go along with another five assists for his club. Lorenzo Pellegrini has also made seven appearances for Italy's U-21 team and looks to be one of Italy's best young, up-and-coming stars.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 18, GK
Italy's golden boy, Gianluigi Donnarumma is the best young goalkeeper on the planet. He's already the starting keeper for one of Europe's most famous clubs, AC Milan, and he's expected to eventually take over the Italian national team goalkeeping job from 39 year old legend Gianluigi Buffon. At 6'5", he has all the height and length need to be a world class keeper. Top teams from around the continent are already clamoring for Donnarumma, but will anybody be able to capture him from Milan?
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Published by Joseph Lowery