Chelsea have added continued to bolster their squad with the signing of Italian wonderkid Cesare Casadei.
According to Fabrizio Romano, a £12.6million deal has been completed with Inter. Casadei is due in London imminently to sign a deal after agreeing personal terms on a four-year contract.
But what kind of player are Chelsea getting? Here’s everything you need to know about the highly-rated young star.
Who is he?
Casadei was born and raised in Ravenna in the north of Italy, in January 2003, back when Marcello Lippi’s Juventus reigned supreme in Serie A while Inter legend Christian Vieri was topping the goalscoring charts.
The youngster started out his development in the youth ranks of local side Cervia and now-defunct fallen giants Cesena before moving to Inter as a 15-year-old back in 2018. It was then that he started representing Italy at youth level, appearing regularly for the Azzurri’s Under-16s before rising through the ranks up to the Under-19s.
Soon enough Casadei began to catch the eye in Inter’s youth ranks. He was named in The Guardian’s annual Next Generation series back in 2020.
During the 2019-20 season, he scored 10 goals in 15 appearances for Inter’s Under-17s in the Campiatano Nazionale and has seamlessly stepped up at every level since.
He scored on his Under-19s debut against Sampdoria in January 2020 and scored a towering header with a match-winner against Rennes in his UEFA Youth League debut.
Cesare Casadei – Chelsea’s new wonderkid?
credit to @FCIMcomps pic.twitter.com/wOVxdYQutC
— Brandon Stacey (@brandonstacey88) July 29, 2022
Last term he notched 14 goals and four assists in 30 appearances in the Primavera youth league and was named the division’s best player, developing his game under Under-19s boss Christian Chivu.
That form led to some in the Italian press questioning why Simone Inzaghi was reluctant to hand the teenager his senior debut. He made the bench on one occasion for the Nerazzurri but never made it onto the pitch.
“Cesare Casadei has many admirers – because he’s scored numerous goals (17) and combines technique with physicality (1.86 m in height),” tweeted Italian journalist Maurizio Pistocchi in July. “But the real question is: why has Inzaghi never used him, even for five minutes, while Palermo, Torino, Sassuolo, and Chelsea all want to invest in him?”
Indeed, the reports that Chelsea were keenly scouting the youngster have since been proven true. Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio stated Thomas Tuchel is “bewitched” by Casadei and his arrival is part of a new transfer strategy implemented by new Blues president Todd Boehly in focusing on youth.
Casadei follows Carney Chukwuemeka and Omari Hutchinson, both born in 2003, and Gabriel Slonina, born in 2004, through the door at Cobham.
Where he plays
“A combative and fearless midfielder, his physicality has marked him apart even when playing above his own age group, and he has time yet to grow into his already over 6ft frame,” is how The Guardian journalist Nicky Bandini described his game in his Next Generation write-up.
He’s been described as a box-to-box midfielder and – in what will be music to the ears of all Chelsea fans – has drawn comparisons to Frank Lampard thanks to his goalscoring nous and ability to time his runs and arrive late in the penalty area.
He’s also been compared to current Serie A midfielders Nicolo Barella and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic due to his explosive bursts forward and powerful presence in the middle of the park.
To use Italian parlance, he’s been described as a mezzala, namely a shuttling No.8-style player that contributes to the attack and plays on the right or left of a midfield three, more advanced than a player like Jorginho – who he may well soon be playing alongside for club and country.
Carboni ➡️ Casadei
This guy is a headers machine 🔥 pic.twitter.com/is2R2Pk67z
— Uncle $harma 🎙️ (@RSharmzz) May 31, 2022
What he’s said
Back in March, the midfielder gave an interesting interview with Italian outlet Gazzetta Dello Sport about how he sees himself and how his career is going.
“I like him [Milinkovic-Savic] a lot for the characteristics he has and for the way he plays, he’s a player from whom I draw inspiration. But to get to those levels you have to work hard,” he said.
“At Inter I obviously look up to the midfielders. Barella and Brozovic in particular. Intensity in Barella, calmness with the ball in Brozovic.
“Javier Zanetti [is my idol] for his charisma and strength. But also for his flexibility – he could play in any position.
“I play where the coach tells me, I try to interpret what he asks of me in the best way possible. I like to attack spaces and run in behind even without the ball, but also to have the ball at my feet.”
When asked how he felt he was progressing last season, he replied: “I’m very happy with how it’s going, but my only thought is always to make myself available to the team.
“I always try to do something more than what I’ve already done. I know I have to improve, I work every single day with the coach. And I do it thinking about the collective goal, which is to win the Scudetto.”
What they’ve said
– “Inter’s Casadei also has the potential to be a top player,” former Chelsea scout Carlo Jacomuzzi told Gazzetta.
– “He has been with us since he was15,” Italy youth set-up co-ordinator Maurizio Viscidi told Gazzetta. “We’ve watched him grow. He’s a modern midfielder, because out of all the youth team midfielders he’s been the one with the greatest aptitude for attacking runs and goalscoring.
“He attacks the area penalty area better than anyone else we’ve seen, better than Frattesi or Barella. And he’s also strong in the air, something that’s unusual among younger players.
“Given his ability to enter and give a presence in the area he’s the strongest player currently within the Azzurri’s youth sector. He has a strong physique, and from a biomechanical point of view he is also quite dynamic and can get through a lot of running.”
– “Today he’s a young talent. He still has a long way to go before he can become a top player, but we’re very proud to have him with us,” Inter CEO Beppe Marotta told Italian broadcaster TR24.
“He’s training with the first team, he’s proving to be at a very good level. Right now I can only talk about him in positive terms as he’s above average for his age, and after that a lot depends on him.
“It will depend on how he’s able to map out his future because apart from the technical qualities, you also have to have the personal ones which are often more important in football.”
– “He’s a player for the future, he didn’t even play for Inter in the first team – just in the academy, by far the best player in their academy, and they decided to invest in him,” said Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on his YouTube channel.
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