Who would be partnering Vincent Kompany at the back making up the solid defensive line? Well, your votes were cast and this has raised a few eyebrows, especially by one of our Italian writers. His inclusion however, is, as you will come to discover, a well-reasoned one. Juventus through and through, he embodies old school with an aerial ability that most strikers would die for.
Whilst Livorno and Fiorentina, two Tuscan clubs, may not have seen all the talent, Juventus did and gambled on the young talent, aged only 20 in his first appearance for the old lady. Ever since, he followed them into Serie B, partnering experienced defenders such as Nicola Legrottaglie, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Robert Kovac. This would come to prove invaluable as Juventus have come to rely on the man now wearing the number 3 jersey after such illustrious company.
Giorgio Chiellini is Juventus through and through. Sometimes his antics fail him a little, but his performances throughout a season re-balance all of that. Last season Chiellini adapted to a three-man defensive system partnering another young up and comer, Leandro Bonucci, and fellow experienced international, Andrea Barzagli. Between them all they had Italy’s best defensive record and it was no surprise to see them provide the back bone for the squad that reached the Euro 2012 final. (Even if Chiellini was sidelined for a good portion of the tournament due to injury).
Naturally a left back, he was eventually developed into a left-sided central defender for Juventus. His physical force, ability to time tackles and surge forwards with ball comfortably at his feet have all added to his repertoire of recent years. His ability to score goals from set pieces have also made him dangerous on the offensive. His pass rate is in the top five of Europe and his aerial winning battles are in the top three, both statistically speaking.
His inspiration is Paolo Maldini and admitted in one interview: “I hope to have feet as skilled as his one day”. Whilst he may lack the incomparable brilliance of Maldini, he makes up for it in heart, style and leadership on the pitch. All traits which any team needs in at least one of their centre backs. He is another example of what us “youngsters” call “Old School”, alongside Kompany, Phillip Lahm and Jordi Alba this is a back four that has taken shape beautifully.
Here’s some of the experts and voters telling us why:
“First choice for Italy and vital for Juventus’ unbeaten run. Superb tackler and great reading of the game.” – @TheEndToEndBlog
“He’s a big game player, vice-captain, physically imposing, good passer, and a threat on set plays. The ideal centre-back.” – Frank Lopapa, Talking Baws writer. @fnlopapa