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Giorgio Scalvini: Atalanta's Thiago Silva-inspired teenager tipped to become an Italy regular

11:00 AM GMT 13/05/2022
Giorgio Scalvini NXGN GFX
The 18-year-old defender has become a regular in Gian Piero Gasperini's side and earned a call-up from Roberto Mancini at the start of 2022

The past few seasons have been a fairy tale for Atalanta, with one of Italy's smallest top-flight clubs having dined at Europe's top table after back-to-back top-four finishes.

That run of Champions League football will come to an end next term, however, with Gian Piero Gasperini's side in danger of missing out on continental competition altogether, as they sit eighth in the Serie A table with just two matches left to play.

But while the Bergamo outfit's first team regroup, the club's hierarchy can at least take comfort in the fact that Atalanta's academy is continuing to churn out top-level talents.

After developing the likes of Franck Kessie, Dejan Kulusevski and Amad Diallo in recent years, Atalanta has earned a growing reputation as having one of the best youth systems in Italian football.

And the latest teenager to emerge at the Gewiss Stadium looks set to to join those players at the elite level after a breakout campaign in the senior side.

Giorgio Scalvini did not make his first-team debut until October, but has since fully established himself in Gasperini's squad, and has been a regular starter since mid-March.

The centre-back, who cites Thiago Silva as his inspiration, has always been a standout at age-group level ever since joining Atalanta from his hometown club Brescia at the age of 12, and has now made the transition to the men's game look relatively straightforward.

He first appeared on Gasperini's radar during the 2020-21 side, when he was one of the stars of Atalanta's Primavera team that went all the way to the national final, before losing out to Empoli.

Playing 31 times, he made the most appearances of any player born in 2003 or later during the campaign, and was rewarded with a place on the first-team bench on a handful of occasions throughout the season.

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He was offered the chance to further impress during pre-season, with his displays in Atalanta's friendlies enough to persuade the club that a new defender need not be signed in the summer of 2021.

"In my opinion, Scalvini is here (in the first-team) this year. He's giving me excellent sensations," Gasperini said ahead of the start of the campaign, before comparing the youngster to Italy's brightest defensive hope: Inter's Alessandro Bastoni.

"He may be a new Bastoni, but right now it's a feeling. In certain positions, Atalanta can use the academy a lot, without wasting resources on players from elsewhere."

Unlike Bastoni, Scalvini is right-footed, but they do otherwise share a lot of the same traits. They are both comfortable playing in either a back three or back four, while at 6'4 (1.94 metres), the teenager has a similar level of physicality as the Italy international.

Scalvini is also, like Bastoni, comfortable in possession, and has made a handful of appearances playing at the base of the midfield during his time coming through the ranks.

His debut came against Udinese in October, but it was not until Matteo Lovato joined Cagliari on loan in January that Scalvini was truly able to force his way into the regular first-team picture.

"For me, it gives me great satisfaction to be part of this group," he said following his first start for the club, against Venezia in January.

"My team-mates help me a lot, and their advice makes my job on the pitch easier."

Scalvini has now made 19 senior appearances as the season begins to wind down, and was recently singled out for his performances by RB Leipzig manager Domenico Tedesco when the sides met in the Europa League.

He also netted his first professional goal with a well-placed header against Verona in April, with attention now on Atalanta securing him for the future.

Scalvini's contract only runs until the summer of 2023, and there are already clubs from both Italy and around Europe who are monitoring the defender's situation, with many believing he will become a mainstay of the Italian national team in the years to come.

He almost got his first taste of training with the Azzurri in January, when he was named in a squad selected by Roberto Mancini to take part in a pre-World Cup play-off training camp.

A slight muscle injury, however, prevented Scalvini from taking part, but it likely only postponed the inevitable in terms of another Atalanta youth product reaching the top of the club and international game.

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