With the league calendar in Italy almost complete, Goal.com offers its nominations - and choice - for Young Player Of The Year...
Mario Balotelli (Inter)
After a difficult first few months when it seemed that he may even be on his way out of San Siro, Balotelli has settled to have an excellent 2009. The 18-year-old may need to grow up from a personal point of view, but footballing-wise he is already a man. The teenager has hit eight Serie A goals, and his potential is frightening.
Alexandre Pato (Milan)
Was the red-hot favourite to win this award up until several weeks ago, but an under-par finish to the campaign has just seen him miss out. Pato has found the back of the net 14 times in 34 Serie A appearances, and he certainly could fulfil Carlo Ancelotti’s prophecy and become “the best forward in the world”. Still needs to refine a few parts of his game, but at 19 he is still a baby.
Simon Kjaer (Palermo)
The 20-year-old Dane arrived from FC Midtjyland last summer, and has every tool in his locker in order to become a top-class centre-back. Kjaer has been the rock at the heart of the Palermo defence, a classy performer who is as cool as a cucumber. The youngster has been linked with almost every major club in Europe, including Milan, Inter and Liverpool.
Mauro Zarate (Lazio)
Just like Kjaer, the 22-year-old Zarate also made it into Goal.com’s Serie A Team of the Year for 2008-09. The Argentine is a true phenomenon, who has been likened to Barcelona hero Lionel Messi. With 13 goals in the Italian championship, most of them wonder-strikes, and vital efforts in the Coppa Italia to lead Lazio to glory – Zarate has proven himself as a man for the big stage. The ZarateKid is worshipped by the Biancocelesti faithful like a God.
Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese)
For a player who did not even make his Serie A debut until January of this year, this is some achievement to make it into the Young Player of the Year nominations. In the second half of the campaign, you will find it difficult to name a more impressive player in the whole of Italy than the 20-year-old Ghanaian. With pace, skill, strength, stamina and tenacity, Asamoah really could become the next great African midfielder.
Goal.com Young Player of the Year: Mauro Zarate
What are your views on this topic? Who gets your vote as Serie A Young Player of the Year? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com