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Massimiliano Allegri knows him all too well. Indeed, in his final match in charge of AC Milan, the Juventus coach looked on helplessly as Domenico Berardi tore apart his ailing Rossoneri, netting four times in a memorable January 2014 win for Sassuolo.
In the days after that stunning 4-3 defeat for the stumbling San Siro giants, Clarence Seedorf replaced Allegri and a star was born. The young winger has continued to perform incredibly for the Neroverdi, but even then he was already co-owned by Juventus, the Italian champions buying half his contract as long ago as September 2013.
On this day in 2014, Domenico Berardi scored all four goals in Sassuolo’s 4-3 victory over Milan. https://t.co/ZhnZsqMt5y
— Khaled Al Nouss (@KhaledAlNouss) January 11, 2016
Indeed, the Bianconeri had long since recognised Berardi’s ability, handing over half of Luca Marrone’s registration in exchange according to their official website. The co-ownership system has since been outlawed by FIFA, prompting Sassuolo to buy the 21-year-old outright last summer, reported by Juventus.
Despite paying €10 million to do so, rumours of a buy-back clause for Juventus circulated constantly, with journalist Gianluca Di Marzio insisting on his website (via translator David Amoyal) that the price had been set at €18 million.
30 – Berardi reached 30 goals in Serie A aged 20y 9m, Messi did the same in La Liga aged 20y 8m but with 12 more appearances, Talent.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 21, 2015
That appears to have been borne out by recent reports from Sky Italia (h/t Football Italia) that stated the club will indeed bring Berardi to Turin this summer. Looking at both Juve’s squad and the player’s sustained excellence, it is imperative they make him their No. 1 target when the transfer window opens.
Since making his Serie A debut against Napoli on September 25, 2013, Berardi has made 85 top-flight appearances, weighing in with an eye-catching 37 goals and 20 assists. According to WhoScored.com figures, that equates to scoring or creating for Sassuolo once every 116 minutes played so far.
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While Italy coach Antonio Conte has inexplicably failed to hand the Cariati native his Azzurri debut, the youngster has no shortage of highly respected fans around the peninsula, with former Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi once praising him in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t FourFourTwo):
Berardi is a player of great talent, a modern footballer who plays for the team all over the field. He has liveliness, intuition, temperament and strength combined with a good technique. He is an introverted youngster, but with his head on his shoulders, I don’t think popularity will make him lose enthusiasm and desire to improve.
Sacchi is not alone, with Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved also clearly a fan of Berardi, telling Tuttosport (h/t Football Italia) back in February 2015 that the player “is one of the best talents in all of Italian football.”
Adding that he and Stefano Sturaro would become “leaders of the team and the future of Juve,” the 2003 Ballon d’Or winner has clearly been impressed by the Sassuolo star. As Allegri saw firsthand during that ill-fated encounter with Milan, Berardi has the ability to win a match single-handedly, an attribute his squad often lacks.
Paul Pogba and Paulo Dybala have done so at times this season, while Juan Cuadrado is also capable of doing the same, but Berardi’s devastating speed—and his accurate left foot—would add another dimension to the Bianconeri attack.
Domenico Berardi!! Take. A. Bow. https://t.co/fqkIgje264
— Adam Digby (@Adz77) February 21, 2016
Often playing on the right flank, he has regularly switched to a central role, proving he possesses the tactical intelligence and flexibility Allegri demands of his players. La Gazzetta dello Sport believes the Juventus boss has already given his blessing for a move (h/t Football Italia). It is essential the club does just that in the summer.
Berardi’s agent, Simone Seghedoni, told TuttoJuve (h/t Football Italia) that his client “wants to grow” and “must be put in a position where he can prove his worth,” which is exactly what the Bianconeri could provide.
“Then Domenico must show he’s ready to be part of an important squad like Juventus’,” his representative continued. Indeed he must. The time is now.