Youth round up: Berardi stuns Milan, Januzaj shines again

Posted by Christopher Atkins



Another week of action across the major European leagues has passed and, as per usual, we have a number of outstanding youth performances to choose from for the Scout's Notebook's weekly review.

Serie A is the main focus of our column, after an explosive showing from Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi brought to an end the reign of Maximiliano Allegri at AC Milan. The 19-year-old, though, was not alone among his peers in standing out from the crowd and as ever we bring you updates on the best of those showings.

Without further ado, then, let's look at this weekend's outstanding young players and their respective achievements.


Domenico Berardi celebratesAPDomenico Berardi celebrates after scoring four goals AC Milan.

Berardi hits four to defeat Milan

Sassuolo moved out of the relegation zone in Serie A on Sunday evening thanks to a stunning performance from teenager Berardi, who scored all the side's goals in their 4-3 victory over Milan. It was, ultimately, the game which consigned opposition manager Allegri to the scrapheap, but will be long remembered as the day Berardi arrived on the big stage.

Berardi is, of course, not unknown. His eleven goals in Serie B last season were enough for Juventus to take out a 50 percent stake in his ownership, while he has now matched that tally this campaign in just 14 top flight appearances. However, his showing against Milan was confirmation for those who needed it that he is well on route to the top, having only begun playing organised football just a couple of years ago.

- Domenico Berardi thrilled with display

His goals on Sunday were wonderfully taken, all as a consequence of clever movement or positioning and dispatched with little fuss, with his excellent left-foot. Playing in a front three, his weakness at holding the ball up is catered for and he is allowed to play to his strengths: Pace, the ability to beat his opponent and, of course, finishing.

While his teammates' contributions to the success should not be forgotten, with Yussif Chibsah in particular excellent in the midfield, it was Berardi who supplied the moments of quality to defeat what is perhaps becoming the poorest Milan side in recent memory. Juventus officials will have been watching the game gleefully, with thoughts of a possible summer arrival at the San Siro in their minds, but for now it may just be that the youngster's goals can help Sassuolo secure unexpected survival.


Man Utd's Adnan Januzaj takes a free kick against Swansea.PA PhotosMan Utd's Adnan Januzaj takes a free kick against Swansea.

Januzaj once more leads the way for United

It's becoming very difficult to avoid giving Adnan Januzaj a mention in this column, with the 18-year-old already having become an important figure for David Moyes Manchester United as they continue to search for continuity in this unusually topsy-turvy Premier League campaign.

After three consecutive defeats, Saturday evening's fixture with Swansea was hugely important for United and the Moyes era, with results going against the club in three competitions in the space of a week. A quiet first-half did little to settle supporter nerves, but within minutes of the restart the Red Devils were ahead and, as so often in recent weeks, Januzaj played a major role in the build up with a superb run and back-post cross for Shinji Kagawa.

- Okwonga: Januzaj's all-star display

Indeed, having swapped positions for the second half, both Kagawa and Januzaj came to life. Only the Japanese player had more shots than Januzaj over the ninety minutes, while Darren Fletcher was the only player to touch the ball more for his side. Nobody, though, created more chances or caused the defence as many issues. Playing with confidence and a lack of fear, as he has since he broke into the side, Januzaj's talent is given a platform from which to shine and he rarely disappoints.

David Walsh of the Sunday Times has produced one of the best analogies for United's Januzaj dilemma thus far, commenting: "This was to have been the season he dipped his toe in the water, not skippered the lifeboat". At times, skippering the lifeboat has been how it has appeared. When United have been in trouble in games, it is to the teenager that they have looked for inspiration, in the knowledge that he has the ability to see a pass that few others could dream of pulling off. He is a special talent and, thus far, has responded well to his difficult introduction to senior football. That mental robustness cannot be taught and is a particularly positive sign looking to the years ahead.

A mixed bag in Montpellier

Montpellier are not enjoying a particularly positive season in Ligue 1, but will be delighted to have claimed a 1-1 draw with big-spending Monaco on Friday night in a game that saw several youngsters show off their talents. Both goalscorers, M'Baye Niang and Layvin Kurzawa are France Under-21 internationals, while Morgan Sanson, James Rodriguez, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, Lucas Ocampos and Remy Cabella were all among the rising stars on show.

Rodriguez was wonderful, as he so often is, in his linking of play from attacking midfield and provided the biggest attacking threat of a star-studded Monaco side. The 22-year-old tends to be ignored by this column due to his already established status, but it is easy to forget just how much time he has ahead to continue developing.

Kurzawa, Monaco's left-back, was also highly impressive on the night despite the overall performance of his side. His goal was a rather fortunate header, but the adventurous left-back was an important feature in the game as he got on the ball over 100 times (WhoScored). The full-back has gradually been introduced to the first-team over recent seasons, becoming first-choice at the start of the current campaign, and has quickly become regarded as one of the best players in his position in Ligue 1.

It was not such a good night for supposedly Premier League-bound attacking midfielder Cabella, who disappointed for long periods of the game. There were, however, flashes of the inspiration that Cabella can offer from his attacking midfield berth. Newcastle fans would hope for better should he move, but he has shown consistently for some time that he is a talented young playmaker. Montpellier, though, will not be willing to sell their prized asset on the cheap.

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