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Fabio Chiarodia: The teenage Italian defender breaking records in Germany

8:00 PM MYT 11/02/2022
Fabio Chiarodia NXGN GFX
The 16-year-old centre-back is already Werder Bremen's youngest-ever player, with Chelsea and Juventus among those said to be tracking his progress

In Bundesliga history, only two clubs have ever won more points than Werder Bremen: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

They also share the record for the most seasons played in the German top flight alongside Bayern and yet, in 2021-22, they find themselves playing in the second tier following their relegation last season.

As such, there is a rebuild taking place at Weserstadion, with the club's academy getting particular attention in the hope of creating a new generation of homegrown stars.

That was very much in evidence in December, when the club set a new record for its youngest ever player as they aimed to hold on for a 3-2 win over Jahn Regensburg.

Deep into stoppage time, centre-back Fabio Chiarodia was introduced off the bench for his debut, trusted by his manager Ole Werner despite being just 16 years and 188 days old at the time.

Though he only managed a couple of touches of the ball in the Bavarian snow before the final whistle blew, Chiarodia's appearance was the latest step on a journey that has long seen him marked out as a talent of some repute.

Nicknamed 'Das Kuken (The Chick)' by his team-mates, he has trained with the Werder first-team squad since pre-season, while elite European clubs are reported to be tracking his progress, including Juventus and Chelsea.

It is all a dream come true for Chiarodia, who was born just 50 kilometres west of Bremen in Oldenburg – 12 years after his parents took the decision to move from the Italian town of Cinto Caomaggiore, near Venice, to Lower Saxony.

Chiarodia's father, Ivano, now works in a town-centre ice cream shop with his brother-in-law, Roberto, but his youngest son has always been destined to play football for a living, after being plucked from the Oldenburg youth teams by Werder at the age of nine.

"My uncle has always been a big Werder fan, as have I," Chiarodia told Werder's official website. "I often went to the Weserstadion when I was little.

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"When I joined the academy, I cried tears of joy."

Straight away, he was marked out for his maturity, and the teenager has captained Werder's various age-group sides throughout his ascension to the senior ranks.

Though naturally left-footed, he is comfortable with either foot, showing a calmness in possession that more and more modern-day coaches are keen to see from defenders.

Comfortable when facing one-on-one situations, he has also developed physically to stand at 6'1'' (186cm), meaning he does not look out of place around those much older than him.

He signed his first professional contract in October 2021 and the first team have worked hard to integrate him into the senior squad.

"When I entered the locker room for the first time and introduced myself, someone asked me where I came from," Chiarodia explained.

"I answered 'Italy', and someone started singing Italian songs, since we had just won the European Championship!"

Former Borussia Dortmund defender Omer Toprak has played a key role in helping Chiarodia, with the youngster adding: "In the first weeks with the first team, I was always silent, I didn't speak to anyone. If someone asked me questions, I went cold.

"I was very nervous, and it was he [Toprak] who let me ease into it. He helped me a lot ."

Though Chiarodia has played a number of friendlies for the senior side, his debut remains his only competitive outing to date, with the club keen to build up his minutes with the Under-19s while allowing him to train with the first team.

Their plan is likely to involve him being promoted to the senior ranks on a full-time basis for the 2022-23 campaign.

Doing so would certainly help when it comes to tying him down to a new contract, with his current deal having entered its final 18 months.

"Fabio is one of the most talented players in Europe, who is already in the notebooks of top international clubs," Werder sporting director, Frank Baumann, told Kicker.

Juve would certainly love to have a potential future star of the Italy national team in their ranks, with Chiarodia having opted to represent the Azzurri, despite having been called-up to the Germany U15s squad in the past.

The feeling in Italy, as well as in Bremen, is that 'The Chick' will soon be a name on everyone's lips.

Werder just hope he can help re-establish them among Bundesliga's best first.

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