The history of young football talents in Italy is rich and storied, with a long tradition of producing world-class players. Italy has a strong footballing culture, and its youth development systems have consistently produced talented players who have gone on to achieve success domestically and internationally.
We can name many youngsters such as Paolo Maldini, Francesco Totti, Alessandro Der Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Canavaro, and many more who take these journeys from young talented players through worldwide legends. These examples highlight Italy’s tradition of nurturing young talent and integrating them into top-level football at an early age. The country has a history of producing not only skilled players but also leaders and legends in the sport.
The Italian Serie A and youth academies of top clubs continue to play a crucial role in developing the next generation of footballing talents in Italy. Young Italian footballers have various opportunities to develop their skills and pursue successful football careers. These opportunities often come through the country’s robust youth development systems, professional academies, and competitive youth leagues.
Most top Italian football clubs have well-established youth academies, often called “Primavera” teams. These academies serve as the breeding grounds for young talent, providing a structured environment for players to hone their skills and progress through the ranks. In this article, we explore more about the best young Italian football players. Maybe we will be able to find the best young Italian players 2024.
Everything to know about The best young Italian football players
Italy stands out as one of World Cup’s most accomplished national teams, clinching victory in four tournaments (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) and reaching the finals in two additional instances (1970, 1994). With the departure of the golden generation of Italian players, the Azzurri needs to undergo a rejuvenation process. In order to fit into this historical team, they need to be the best young Italian football players.
In this article, we will find out more about the best talented Italian footballer, and will answer questions such as Who the Italian academies work? Who are the youngest players to play for Italy? And who is the best young player in the Seri A?
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- Federico Dimarco
- Nicolò Barella
- Gianluca Scamacca
- Federico Chiesa
- Alessandro Bastoni
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Italy Youth Academy
Italian youngsters are generally rising in Italy youth academies. Italy has a well-established and renowned youth academy system that plays a crucial role in developing young football talent. The youth academies in Italy are often affiliated with professional football clubs. They are designed to nurture and train young players early, providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in professional football.
The youth academy structure in Italy typically includes various age groups, starting from the very young age categories up to the U19 level. These academies focus on developing technical skills, tactical understanding, physical fitness, and the game’s mental aspects. Young players progress through the ranks to eventually make it to the first team.
Several Italian football clubs are known for raising the best young Italian football players in their successful youth academies, such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, AS Roma, and others. These clubs invest heavily in their youth development programs, emphasizing the importance of homegrown talent in the club’s long-term success.
Players who graduate from these academies often go on to represent their clubs at the professional level and may also earn call-ups to the Italian national team. The youth academy system in Italy is an integral part of the country’s football culture and plays a vital role in shaping the future of Italian football.
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Best young Italian football players
In this part of our article, we will read more about some of the best young Italian football players. During these last five years, many young Italian players, such as Nicolo Zaniolo, Federico Chiesa, Nicolo Barella, Sandro Tonali, Manuel Locatelli, and many more, made their way to the top stages. In this article, we will inform you about the young Italian XI, who in so young ages already established their talent.
Gianluigi Donnarumma is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on February 25, 1999, in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, he plays as a goalkeeper for Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Italian national team. Donnarumma initiated his professional journey with AC Milan in 2015, emerging from the club’s youth development program.
At the age of 16, he made his Serie A debut, becoming the second-youngest goalkeeper to achieve this feat. He swiftly became the most promising young goalkeeper globally during that period. In 2021, Donnarumma played a pivotal role in Milan’s attainment of a second-place position in the 2020–21 Serie A, securing qualification for the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League following an eight-year hiatus.
He earned accolades as Serie A’s Best Goalkeeper of the Year, IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper, and clinched the prestigious Yashin Trophy. After a six-year stint with Milan, Donnarumma moved to Paris Saint-Germain in June 2021 on a free transfer. On the international stage, Donnarumma was the youngest Italian to play for the U21 team in March 2016.
Just six months later, he marked his senior international debut, becoming the youngest goalkeeper ever to wear the Italy jersey. Donnarumma also played a crucial role in Italy’s representation at UEFA Euro 2020, contributing to the team’s tournament victory and earning the prestigious Player of the Tournament award. Without a doubt, he is the best young Italian goalkeeper.
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Mateo Retegui is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on April 29, 1999, in San Fernando, Argentina, he plays for Genoa and the Italy national team. Retegui initiated his professional career with Boca Juniors. He was promoted to the club’s first team during the 2017–18 Argentine Primera División season. In January 2019, Retegui embarked on an eighteen-month loan to Estudiantes.
In February 2022, Retegui made a move to Tigre on a loan arrangement until 2023. On July 26, 2023, Retegui secured a five-year deal with Serie A side Genoa, with a reported transfer fee of €15 million. His impactful start with Genoa was marked by scoring his first two goals for the club on August 11, 2023, in a Coppa Italia match against Serie B side Modena. Having Italian roots, he decided to play for Italian national team.
Retegui’s official call-up to the Italy national team was on March 17, 2023, and he made a notable impact by scoring in his international debut on March 23, against England. Continuing his impressive run, he scored again on March 26, securing the decisive goal in a 2–0 victory over Malta. This achievement made him the first player since Pierino Prati in 1968 to score in his first two competitive matches for the national side and one of the best Italian national team players.
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Fabio Miretti is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on August 3, 2003, in Pinerolo, Italy, he plays for Juventus and the Italian national team. Miretti commenced his youth football journey with Auxilium Saluzzo in 2007 before transitioning to Cuneo’s youth setup the subsequent year. In 2011, Juventus acquired Miretti, and he progressed through the club’s various youth tiers.
In February 2021, he marked his debut in professional football with the U23 team at the age of 17. During the following season, Miretti established himself as a regular player for Juventus U23 and achieved milestones by making his debut in Serie A and the UEFA Champions League with the first team. Additionally, he played a crucial role in helping the U19 team reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Youth League.
His consistent performance led to a permanent promotion to the first team in the 2022–23 season. Since 2018, Miretti has been a part of Italy’s youth national teams, contributing nine goals in a total of 40 appearances across various levels. At the age of 19, he earned his debut for the Italy senior team on 20 November, entering the match as a late substitute for Nicolò Barella in a friendly contest that ended in defeat against Austria in Vienna.
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Destingy Udogie is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on November 28, 2002, in Verona, Italy, he plays as a left-back for Tottenham Hotspur and the Italian national team. Udogie progressed through the youth system at Hellas Verona and had his inaugural Serie A appearance on November 8, 2020, in a 2–2 draw against Milan. Subsequently, on July 15, 2021, Udogie embarked on a season-long loan to Udinese with an obligation to purchase.
In his debut season, he featured in 37 matches, scoring five goals. Udogie first appeared for Tottenham against Brentford on August 13, 2023. He marked his first Premier League goal for Tottenham in a 4–1 victory over Newcastle United. Following this, on December 12, Udogie committed to a new contract with the club, extending his tenure until 2030.
On October 6, 2023, he earned his first official selection to the Italian senior national team, courtesy of head coach Luciano Spalletti. Then, on October 14, 2023, Udogie marked his debut for Italy in a Euro qualification match against Malta. In a noteworthy contribution, he assisted Davide Frattesi in scoring a goal during the 93rd minute of the match.
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Wilfried Gnonto is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on November 5, 2003, in Verbania, Italy, he plays as a winger for Leeds United and the Italian national team. Having been a part of Inter Milan’s youth system from the age of nine, Gnonto made a move to the Swiss club Zürich on April 23, 2020. In his second season with Zürich, he secured the Swiss Super League title for the 2021–22 season with four games remaining.
On September 2, 2022, Gnonto signed a five-year contract with Leeds United. His debut in the Premier League occurred on October 29, contributing to Leeds’ 2–1 victory against Liverpool. On January 4, 2023, Gnonto achieved a milestone by scoring his first goal in the Premier League for Leeds in a match against West Ham United.
Gnonto first appeared for the senior Italian national team during a UEFA Nations League match against Germany, on June 4, 2022. On June 14, in Italy’s fourth group match, he achieved another record by scoring his first international goal in a 5–2 away loss to Germany. This accomplishment made him the youngest goalscorer for Italy.
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Giorgio Scalvini is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on December 11, 2003, in Chiari, Italy, he plays centre-back for Atalanta and the Italian national team. In 2015, he became part of the Atalanta Youth Sector. On November 8, 2020, Scalvini received a call-up from the first squad for a Serie A match against Inter Milan. Scalvini succeeded with the U19 team by winning the Supercup on January 21, 2021, winning over Fiorentina.
His debut for Atalanta took place on October 24, 2021, at the age of 17, in a home match against Udinese. On April 18, Scalvini marked a significant milestone by scoring his first career goal in Atalanta’s 2–1 defeat to Verona. He entered the field as a second-half substitute for the senior national team in a match against Germany on June 14, 2022.
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Giacomo Raspadori is one of the best young Italian players in Seri A. Born on February 18, 2000, in Bentivoglio, Italy, he plays as a forward for Napoli and the Italian national team. Raspadori became a part of Sassuolo’s youth academy in 2009. He made his professional debut with Sassuolo in a 3–1 Serie A defeat against Atalanta on May 26, 2019.
Napoli secured Raspadori on a one-year loan on August 20, 2022. He scored his first goal in the Champions League during a 3–0 away victory over Rangers. On October 12, he contributed to a 4–2 win over Ajax, helping his team advance to the knockout phase.
In June 2021, coach Roberto Mancini included Raspadori in the final 26-man squad for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. He debuted for Italy in a friendly victory over the Czech Republic on June 4, 2021. On September 8, 2021, Raspadori scored his first goal for the Italian senior national team in a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.
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Sebastiano Esposito is one of the best young Italian football players. Born on July 2, 2002, in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, he plays as a forward for Sampdoria and the Italian national team. Esposito entered professional football at the age of 16, making his debut for Inter Milan on March 14, 2019. He later ventured into Champions League action, marking his debut against Borussia Dortmund on October 23, 2019.
He embarked on a loan to SPAL on September 25, 2020. Later, he joined Venezia on loan on January 15, 2021. On August 22, 2023, Esposito commenced another loan spell, this time with Serie B club Sampdoria.
He participated in the 2019 UEFA European Under-17 Championship and reached the competition’s final. His inaugural appearance for the Italy U21 team took place on September 3, 2020, in a friendly match against Slovenia.
Numerous Italian football teams are recognized for nurturing top young talents within their thriving youth academies. AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, AS Roma, and other clubs dedicate significant resources to their youth development initiatives, underscoring the pivotal role of locally cultivated talent in ensuring sustained success for the club.
Mateo Retegui is one of the best young Italian football players, who has been able to score in any game he played and has an incredible impact on the National matches.