👶 Serie A Starlet of the Week: A calm head in a difficult situation

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Padraig Whelan

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Welcome to the first in our new regular feature looking at the best performance from a youngster over the course of a matchday.

So who was the star wonderkid on show from matchday one?

Matteo Lovato – Hellas Verona

Hellas Verona youngster Lovato likely didn’t even expect to feature in his side’s season opener against Roma.

The centre-back, still just 20 years old, had made just one previous top flight appearance, appearing as a late substitute for his debut in a 1-1 draw with Atalanta in July.

Aside from that, he has often been missing entirely for matchday squads, with knee and calf issues curtailing his 2020 after impressing for Padova in Serie C.

Obviously, the leap from that division to Serie A is huge and one that he only made in late January, another reason why he wouldn’t have anticipated playing a a part in a difficult season opener.

But Alan Empereur’s early injury saw Lovato thrust into the fray unexpectedly after just 19 minutes but he looked ready and confident throughout.

Against an opponent like the Giallorossi on night one, it is hardly ideal for making just your second ever Serie A appearance.

And yet the former Genoa youth teamer settled into the task surprisingly well and the longer the game went on, the better he got, towering like a skyscraper and showing good use of the ball.

There was a brief lapse when he played Henrikh Mkhitaryan in with a lazy offside trap but he can be pleased with his showing on the left of a back three.

His positioning was largely spot on aside from that though and he can be very pleased with one particularly excellent sliding intervention to keep Pedro at bay.

He looked like he had no right to win that ball and the Spaniard must have thought he was set for his first goal for his new employers.

Given the circumstances surrounding both his rapid rise, injury issues and then appearance on the field on Saturday night, he can be very happy with this showing.

We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves but is it possible the Mastini may have already found their replacement for Marash Kumbulla? Don’t forget his name.

It may be a lot of pressure to put on Lovato’s young shoulders. Sorry not sorry.