'A young Gareth Bale!' - Italy Under-21s hero Chiesa shows why Juventus and Inter are battling to sign him

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The Fiorentina winger scored twice as the Azzurrini came from behind to beat Spain 3-1 in an absorbing European Championship clash in Bologna

Earlier this month, Fiorentina felt compelled to publicly address the "continuous news spread by others about the future of Federico Chiesa and where he will play next season", explaining that the winger is "symbol" around which the new Viola will be built.

Another press release could soon be required, however, as interest in the winger is only going to intensify after his two-goal salvo in Italy's 3-1 victory over Spain in the European Under-21 Championship on Sunday night.

On a warm evening in Bologna, Chiesa's energy and endeavour eventually overwhelmed La Rojita, who had taken the lead just nine minutes in with a delicious curling effort from Dani Ceballos that is only going to attract further interest in a classy midfielder strangely deemed surplus to requirements at Real Madrid by Zinedine Zidane.

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The former Betis man was almost unplayable during the early exchanges – just as he was when these two sides last met in the Under-21 Euros at the semi-final stage in Poland in 2017 – and one characteristically jinking run really should have been converted by Borja Mayoral to double Spain's advantage.

As it was, though, Chiesa almost singlehandedly turned the game on its head, underlining just why he is arguably the most coveted young player in Serie A, with Juventus and Inter leading the chase for his signature.

There was some doubt over whether he was going for goal when his cross-cum-shot caught Unai Simon napping at his near post but Chiesa deserved his good fortune for the fantastic first touch and stunning turn of pace that saw him blaze past poor Mikel Oyarzabal.

It showcased why Giancarlo Antognoni once described Chiesa as "a young Gareth Bale, who drives you crazy and never gives in".

Certainly, Martin Aguirregabiria was driven to distraction by the relentless Viola wideman, who then took advantage of the chaos caused by Patrick Cutrone in the Spain area midway through the second half by calmly guiding home a loose ball to put the Azzurrini ahead.

Federico Chiesa Italy Spain Under 21

It was Cutrone who was also pulled back for the penalty with which Lorenzo Pellegrini sealed the hosts' victory in their Group A opener, while Barella played a decisive role in the comeback by gaining control of the midfield after a diffcult opening 30 minutes as well as providing two assists.

However, Chiesa was the undoubted star of the show.

"There's nothing more I can say about him," Azzurrini coach Luigi Di Biagio confessed afterwards. "He dragged us through. He provided the spark that turned the game."

Indeed, there was never any doubt that Chiesa would be awarded the man of the match award. He personfied Italy's impressive mix of perspiration and inspiration.

It was his heroics which had also sparked the raucous home crowd into a spirited rendition of the Italian national anthem long before the full-time whistle blew.

His effervescent performance was the reason why they went home happy.

And why Fiorentina might well need to issue another hands-off warning to his ever-increasing band of admirers.

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