The Old Lady’s new darling: Federico Chiesa has an angel’s face but a killer’s instinct and steps up when Cristiano Ronaldo falls short… after his double downed AC Milan, how can Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo leave him out?
- Federico Chiesa scored twice as Juventus claimed a crucial win over AC Milan
- Victory over Serie A leaders at San Siro brings Andrea Pirlo’s side into title mix
- Chiesa has impressed since he joined Juventus on loan from Fiorentina
- An aggressive box-to-box winger, 23-year-old Chiesa also boasts a powerful shot
- He has become central to Pirlo’s game plan and is treated as another attacker
- Chiesa has delivered the goods on the occasions Cristiano Ronaldo does not
A new Italian star has been born. Federico Chiesa was magnificent as Juventus beat AC Milan to ignite their Scudetto chances and the Andrea Pirlo era.
It wasn’t only the two goals scored by the winger at the San Siro that would have delighted Pirlo and Juventus fans, but the ‘box-to-box’ nature of an aggressive, all-action performance.
The 23-year-old, who is presently on loan at Juventus from Fiorentina but will eventually cost them £52million, has become the team’s most important figure whenever Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t deliver.
Federico Chiesa celebrates after scoring in Juventus’ 3-1 win at AC Milan on Wednesday night
The 23-year-old winger, who wears No 22, has become integral to Andrea Pirlo’s side
The win over league leaders Milan moved Juventus back into the Scudetto conversation
His double in Juve’s 3-1 victory in Milan has restored them to the Serie A title conversation on a day that Inter Milan also lost.
Ominously, the champions of the past nine seasons now lurk just seven points behind leaders Milan – and Juventus retain a game in hand.
Chiesa may have the face of an angel but he has the instinct of a killer when he gets into scoring positions.
Though stationed on the right wing, Pirlo considers Chiesa to be just another attacker like Ronaldo or Paulo Dybala in his game plan. Six goals and six assists this season so far underlines his quality.
‘We bought him to play one-on-one in the last 30 metres,’ explained Pirlo after the Milan win.
Chiesa wheels away in celebration after opening the scoring against Milan at the San Siro
The winger, on loan from Fiorentina, took his goal tally to six for the season with a double
Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t on the scoresheet but Chiesa stepped up to win three big points
Chiesa shone for Fiorentina across four seasons after breaking into their first team as a teenager. It prompted Juventus to come up with a complex deal to buy him back in October.
He will play on loan for two seasons, with Juventus paying a fee to Fiorentina, before a conditional obligation to buy him for £52m in 2022.
His arrival eliminated the need for the Brazilian winger Douglas Costa, who moved out on loan to Bayern Munich after three expensive, injury-plagued years in Turin that worked out at around £270,000 in wages per game.
Luckily, Costa has quickly been forgotten with Chiesa the new darling of the Juventus fans.
He is the son on Enrico Chiesa, the striker who scored seven times in 22 appearances for Italy between 1996 and 2001, while a player at Sampdoria, Parma, Fiorentina and Lazio.
Chiesa celebrates with a knee slide after scoring for old club Fiorentina against Atalanta
Federico is the son of former Italy striker Enrico Chiesa (pictured), who also played for Fiorentina during his career
But Chiesa Jr is a very different player. More of an English footballer, his stamina takes him from box-to-box and he possesses a powerful and precise shot.
In his debut Serie A season – 2016-17 – he recorded the second-highest number of dribbles in the league with his 533 second only to the 565 of Alejandro Gomez of Atalanta.
He isn’t the most accurate shooter, however. One of the lowest-ranked for shot conversion in Serie A with an average of one goal for every 11.2 attempts.
This has improved markedly at Juventus where Chiesa can learn from Ronaldo and other skilful strikers of the ball.
His arrival at Juventus has also shaken up the way the team attacks. Pirlo wants his attack to be fast, with Chiesa and also Dejan Kulusevski central to this plan.
As usual, Pirlo didn’t betray his emotions, but the win over Milan is huge for Juve’s title hopes
Juventus rise to fourth place but have a game in hand over the three teams above them
Chiesa (left) is in good form but that could easily be bad news for Paulo Dybala (right)
Juventus sent Kulusevski on loan to Parma last season after buying him from Atalanta for a fee that could approach £40m with add-ons. This season, however, the Sweden international is playing for Pirlo.
Kulusevski is only 20 and the heavy investment in him and Chiesa in the summer window points to the way forward.
This, however, spells bad news for Dybala, who is demanding a substantial pay rise to around £9m a year to renew his contract at Juventus beyond 2022.
The Argentine doesn’t accurately fit into the second striker role, nor is he a quick winger or a No 10.
It could be that Chiesa, who is four years younger and earns half as much, becomes Pirlo’s preferred option.
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