It's easy to get excited about a young player your club owns when they do something well. We've all been there before, sitting there with thoughts of what could be. Whether or not they live up to those expectations is sometimes up for debate, but almost all of them arrive in Turin with plenty of hope pined to their young footballing selves.
What am I thinking right now?
Manolo Gabbiadini is looking like one heck of a football player — and Juventus just happens to own half of his contract.
And it's not just because he scored two goals against Israel in Italy's 4-0 win at the Euro Under-21 Championship on Saturday night. Well, maybe that has something to do with it, but there's definitely more to the equation than just knee-jerk reaction after one game. The 21-year-old striker has been under the watchful eye of many of us even before he Juve signed him up with a co-ownership deal with Atalanta last summer.
But, with all that being said, it's hard not to get all wide-eyed after hearing about Gabbiadini's performance alongside fellow Juventus co-owned striker Ciro Immboile — who had two assists of his own in the game — against the Israelis. His two goals put the game to bed and clinched Italy's spot in the the semifinals, somewhere they reached back in 2009 when the likes of Claudio Marchisio, Sebastian Giovinco, and Paulo De Ceglie were in the squad.
(Then again, the captain of that 2009 U-21 squad was Marco Motta, so yeah.)
Goal No. 1, a 42nd-minute thunderbolt that made it 2-0 in favor of the Azzurrini.
Goal No. 2, just eight minutes after halftime.
Bang bang. Game, set, and match. We'll see you in the semifinals, folks.
Now it's pretty understandable why one would be looking forward to the prospect of Gabbiadini wearing a Juventus jersey one day in the not-so-distant future, right? Whenever Gabbiadini does return to Juventus — and at this point it seems like it's just a matter of "when," not "if" — he's certainly going to arrive with expectations, but also with the feeling that he's ready to contribute right off the bat. If we've learned one thing about Beppe Marotta's style of roster construction and management, is that he knows how to handle young players. He knows
Gabbiadini, who spent the season on loan at Bologna, is just another one of those cases. Marotta puts his most prized assets on teams where they will be used not only effectively, but on a regular basis. Gabbiadini's stats won't blow you away — six goals and two assists in 19 starts (30 total appearances) this year in Serie A — but he got the chance to play on a regular bases — the thing that he needs at this point in time.
For now, though, we will watch Gabbiadini from afar. And if he keeps doing what he's currently doing, it should be from afar for that much longer.