Us, as fans, always want every talented young player that comes through the youth ranks to pan out even though we know for a fact that it’s never going to be the case. Young players come and go every few years, the bulk of them never truly meeting the expectations that we have for them.
Basically, for every Claudio Marchisio, there’s 10, 15 or 20 other players that have come up through the Juventus academy or were acquired in their late-teens or early-20s that have barely made a blip on the radar for both club and country.
As Moise Kean goes through his first-full season as a player on Juventus’ senior team, the hype surrounding him only continues to grow. And, it’s not just because we’re impatient to see Juve produce a first-team player from their own academy again. It’s also because of what Kean is doing all on his own.
The latest came Saturday night in Udine. In his first start for the Azzurri, Kean didn’t just make an impact — he got his name on the scoresheet. In continuing with his trend of doing impressive things despite his young age, Kean score the second of Italy’s two goals — YES, ITALY SCORED TWO GOALS — in their 2-0 win over Finland at the Dacia Arena to begin UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying on a positive note.
And with it, Kean became the second-youngest player to ever score a goal for Italy. Not bad.
It’s the obvious highlight in a very good debut for a kid who, just nine months ago, was one of Italy’s best players at the Under-19 European Championships. Kean, and Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, have both made the jump from Under-19s to senior squad in less than a year, with the latter making his international debut Saturday night.
But, as much as Zaniolo has impressed this season, it’s Kean who is gracing the covers of the Italian sports dailies on Sunday morning.
That’s after being on pretty much all of the covers Saturday morning as reports gained steam that he was going to make his first start later in the day. Or after Kean scored a brace against Udinese earlier this month to basically remind everybody out there just how dangerous of a striker he can be even when he’s barely played at all over the season’s first seven months.
We can rattle off the accomplishments that Kean has in his back pocket already ...
- First player born in the 2000s to appear in a Serie A game.
- First player born in the 2000s to appear in a Champions League game.
- First player born in the 2000s to score a goal in Serie A.
- And so on, and so on, and so on.
But the thing is now, he’s not just a glorified stat after being a late-game substitute. Kean has, even without playing all that much at all this season for Juventus, suddenly become one of the young names that is being associated with Roberto Mancini’s youth movement at the international level.
And he’s showing he can hang.
Sure, he got the chance to start Saturday night’s game against Finland because Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa were injured. And it’s not like Finland are going to be the toughest team Italy faces in qualifying even though the Azzurri’s group isn’t exactly one you would consider as a Group of Death or one they shouldn’t win.
But, with his goal Saturday night, Kean’s already done something that Ciro Immobile hasn’t been able to do since mid-2017 — score in an Italy jersey. He did so as a barely-turned 19-year-old who was making his full senior level debut and has now played nearly as many international minutes (90) as he has in Serie A (100) this season.
I’d say that’s a good night.
For Kean, the rise has been impeccable, and not one we’ve seen from a Juventus player in a long, long time. Not even Marchisio, who has 55 international caps to his name, or any other Juve youth product in recent memory was going at this rate when they were working their way up the ladder to the senior level internationally.
And just think about this for a second: It was Kean who got the loudest reaction — outside of Fabio Quagliarella coming onto the field at his old stomping grounds for the first time Saturday night — every time he was on the ball. The crowd at the Friuli were there to see him, the new kid on the block who has so much hope attached to him and this new generation of Italian players who have been given a chance under Mancini’s leadership.
Not bad at all, kid.
The world is starting to find out who Moise Kean is.
But we’ve known. We’ve known since he was scoring what seemed like 10 goals a game during his time in Juve’s youth academy. And now, just barely after he’s celebrated his 19th birthday, he’s showing everybody just why we’ve rated him so highly.
Seriously, though, he’s just barely 19. Think about that for a second.