By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor
In what was largely a rather slow-paced runout at the Trofeo TIM in Bari on Saturday night, one performance stood out like a beacon to the Juventus fans in attendance at the San Nicola. Nineteen-year-old defender Alberto Masi turned in a display of stunning maturity, supplying great discipline and structure in his new club's back line.
The youngster was pitted against Inter and AC Milan just a fortnight after joining the club from Pro Vercelli, but he looked like a natural who had been playing at the top level for some time, outshining fellow new boy Lucio in defence and leading the Italian media to wax lyrical over his ability and potential.
Sky labelled Masi the biggest positive from the Trofeo TIM, and the teenager was likened by various sources and experts to a young Alessandro Nesta.
"He was born in Genoa, and was brought up in the youth system of his local club Sampdoria," explains Goal.com Italy's Juventus expert Romeo Agresti.
"He is a player with great personality. In fact, this is his main characteristic. He was the captain of Sampdoria's Allievi side, and he played for Serie D outfit Lavagnese at the age of just 17, making 20 first team appearances despite his age. Then at Pro Vercelli he was the pivot of coach Maurizio Braghin's side."
But in 2011, the Ligurian side decided to allow Masi to join Pro Vercelli in a co-ownership deal. After helping Braghin's team to promotion to Serie B, playing 24 times in their successful league campaign, the Piedmontesi were not keen to let their half of his rights go on the cheap. After reaching a stalemate over his value, the clubs were forced to decide the matter in a blind auction, with Pro Vercelli outbidding Sampdoria by €30,000 with a €345,000 offer.
That allowed them to then sell on 50 per cent of Masi's rights to Juventus when the Bianconeri came knocking a fortnight later. His immediate future is likely to be played out in Juve's Primavera side, but Agresti explains that he has the talent to make a big impression.
|The most appropriate comparison is most certainly with Alessandro Nesta. That is because he always plays with his head up, has very intelligent movement, and literally never gives the ball away|
"He has excellent physicality and is very quick," he says. "He is skilled in the air, has superb positional sense and is very good with the ball at either foot.
"The most appropriate comparison is most certainly with Alessandro Nesta. That is because he always plays with his head up, has very intelligent movement, and literally never gives the ball away. He also talks very well, and is comfortable enough in position to set the play up from the back."
The comparisons are certainly flattering, but Masi has made all the right steps so far in his young career, and his performances on Saturday night in the Trofeo TIM have ensured that his progress will be watched very closely by Juventus fans over the course of the next campaign.