European Championship league title battle starts

The battle for the European Championship league title starts this week with a year delay. In the coming period, Voetbalzone will highlight a player who you should pay attention to during EURO 2020 or who has a special story.

European Championship league title battle starts

In the fifth episode, attention is paid to Giacomo Raspadori, the most striking name in Italy's European Championship selection. Even before he made his debut in the national team, he was included in the final 26-man squad by national coach Rover to Man ini. 

Who is this 21-year-old Sassuolo striker, who has been compared domestically to Sergio Aguero and is preferred over Moise Kean?

Few people saw the choice for Raspadori in the Italian European Championship selection. It was a big surprise to almost everyone that the talented attacker is preferred over the likes of Kean, who was loaned out by Everton to Paris Saint-Germain last season. Raspadori, a small attacker of 1.72 meters, was regularly allowed to smell the big work last season. 

He made his debut with Sassuolo and played 257 minutes, spread over eleven games. When the season resumed after a break due to the corona virus, the then only twenty-year-old talent scored his first goal in Serie A.

 In the away game against Lazio, he was given a starting place from coach Roberto De Zerbi. On a pass from Francesco Caputo, Raspadori scored the equalizer. With a goal from Caputo, Sassuolo eventually even took three points from the Stadio Olimpico.

 His first goal at the highest level was the start of more beautiful moments in his still early career.

 breakthrough at Sassuolo. Grégoire Defrel was usually first choice in the point of attack, but nevertheless Raspadori came to 27 games, 13 of which as a starting player. It wasn't just his six league goals that impressed him. 

Despite his small height, he is head strong. In addition, he has a high speed of action, is able to unlock himself and others and provides constant threat to the goal. It is not for nothing that he is compared in Italy with Barcelona striker Sergio Aguero. 

Comparisons have also been made often enough with Bruno Giordano, a former Italian attacker who became champion with Napoli in 1987 alongside Diego Maradona. Where many talents with his qualities opt for a transfer to the Italian top at a young age, Raspadori chose a different route. 

At a young age, he had the opportunity to exchange Sassuolo's youth academy for that of a larger club. He was fourteen years old when clubs such as AC Milan, AS Roma and Internazionale appeared on the doorstep. Raspadori had already mapped out his route.

Raspadori was not keen on a transfer to the top, only to be loaned out to smaller clubs time and again, as is often the case in Italy. He wanted to succeed at Sassuolo. 

The talent went through the youth academy and was rewarded on May 26, 2019. Sassuolo was only nine men on the field against Atalanta and faced a 3-1 deficit. It was a hopeless end to the season for the Serie A club, but it will be a game that the then 19-year-old Raspadori will always remember. 

The game had been played long and wide when he was allowed to make his debut in injury time. Two years later, to everyone's surprise, he faces his first major final tournament with the Italy national team. 

It can go fast, Raspadori experiences firsthand. In March he went to the European Under-21 Championship with Young Italy, where he wasn't even a starting player. 

Gianluca Scamacca was preferred in the first two matches, after which Raspadori was allowed to show himself in the last game against Slovenia. With a goal he made an important contribution to the 4-0 victory and qualification for the quarter-finals.

Back in his own country, Raspadori continued his good form. On April 3, he saved a point against AS Roma (2-2) just before time with his goal in the final phase. 

Two weeks later, he became Sassuolo's hero in the San Siro, beating AC Milan as a substitute with two goals: 1-2. Partly due to the game and the goals of Raspadori, Sassuolo participated in European football until the last round. The striker saw his good season rewarded with a place in the Italian pre-selection for the European Championship. 

No one then expected that the attacker would actually go to the final tournament, not even Mancini. He was initially one of the dropouts. The national coach decided to let him gain experience in the quarterfinals of the European Under-21 Championship. 

Young Portugal proved too strong for the Italians after extra time with 5-3, who left the tournament disappointed. For Raspadori, the elimination was a blessing. When Mancini announced his European Championship selection two weeks ago, Raspadori's name was suddenly among them.

The route from Raspadori to the European Championship can be compared to that of Jurrien Timber with the Dutch national team. The Ajax talent made a name for himself in the Eredivisie and Europa League, played Perr Schuurs from the starting line and appeared on Frank de Boer's radar. 

The national coach invited him for a three-day internship in Zeist and the suspicion was confirmed there: Timber is good enough for the Orange squad. Without even having played an international match, the Ajax player was included in the European Championship selection. The same goes for Raspadori in Italy. 

He also had no experience as an A-international. That changed last week. He came on as a substitute in the 4-0 friendly match at the Stadio Dall'Ara against the Czech Republic. 

The fact that he was allowed to fill in in his own city of Bologna made his debut extra special.

"This is unbelievable," he told RAI Sport. "I will never forget this. Making my debut in my hometown, with my family in the stands made it extra special. 

When I was allowed to fill in my entire career flashed by me, both the good and bad moments. I still try to comprehend that I am actually there. All I can do is thank the trainer very much for this extraordinary opportunity," said the striker, who has to compete at the European Championship with Andrea Belotti (Torino) and Ciro Immobile (Lazio). 

Mancini already explained that he chose Raspadori because he has different qualities than the two strikers mentioned. "I'm built differently physically," Raspadori explained. "I'm smaller and faster. But I'm lucky that I can call Belotti and Immobile my teammates. I can now learn from them in training."

Raspadori's call has been compared to that of Italian legend Paolo Rossi. In 1978, as a 21-year-old, he was taken to the World Cup, where he scored three goals. 

Four years later, he won the Golden Ball as the top scorer at the 1982 World Cup, which was won by Italy. "A route like Paolo Rossi? That would be great," Raspadori said. "He could be the future of Italian football," Mancini said at a news conference recently. "He has extraordinary qualities and that was the main reason behind my choice to take him to the European Championship. 

He was called up because of what he showed in the competition. Raspadori has a huge technical background, which he can improve even further. ."

Raspadori on his debut on behalf of Italy.

With Manuel Locatelli and Domenico Berardi, Raspadori will meet two teammates in the Italian European Championship selection. 

Whether the trio will return to Sassuolo next season is highly uncertain. Head coach De Zerbi is leaving for Shakhtar Donetsk and would like to take Locatelli with him. In addition, the interest in Raspadori will increase sharply. 

The clubs are already queuing up and the telephone of the agent of the talented striker is red hot. In the Italian corridors, Raspadori has been associated with a summer transfer for months. With a contract until the summer of 2024, Sassuolo has an excellent negotiating position. 

The current market value of Raspadori is provided by Transfermarktcurrently estimated at fifteen million euros. If he gets into action at the European Championships this month and even scores a goal, his market value will skyrocket.

AC Milan and Internazionale are on the fence about signing Raspadori. Earlier, Olympique Marseille, Liverpool and RB Leipzig were already mentioned in the corridors. For now, according to Tuttosport , the national champion Inter seemsto have the best papers to enlist him. 

Raspadori is represented by Tulio Tinti, the same agent of the brand new Inter coach Simone Inzaghi. Tinti also represents the interests of a number of Internazionale players, including Alessandro Bastoni, Matteo Darmian and Andrea Ranocchia. 

The club thinks that these tires have a good chance of the arrival of Raspadori. Should the talented attacker want to postpone a transfer with a view to playing minutes at Sassuolo, Internazionale hopes to strike when the time is right. For now, Raspadori doesn't seem concerned about where he will play next season. He has other things on his mind.

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