Juventus Next Gen graduates make an impact: How does the academy work?

Italian football is not famed for it's production of youth players but Juventus' Next Gen project is starting to provide important players for the senior team.

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When Juventus defeated Atalanta 2-0 on Serie A Matchday 34, Samuel Iling-Junior emerged as a revelation from that match. Starting at left wing-back in place of the experienced Filip Kostic, the 19-year-old Briton gave La Dea headaches with his pace and he scored the opening goal for the Bianconeri.

Iling-Junior is one of a few youngsters that have come through the Juventus Next Gen team, which predominantly consists of players under 23 years of age and has a couple of overage footballers as well.

Although there have been Juventus reserve teams in the past, the Juventus Next Gen team was founded as the Juventus U23 side back in 2018 and it is the only B team in existence in the Italian football system to date.

Since their formation, this Under-23 team has participated in Serie C Girone A, which consists of senior squads from other parts of Northern Italy. They have finished as high as eighth in Italy’s third division, qualified for the playoffs in three out of five seasons, and they won the 2019/20 Serie C Coppa Italia against Ternana.

Juventus’ Samuel Iling-Junior scores against Atalanta. [@juventusfcen]

Why was the Juventus Next Gen team created?

Historically, Italian football has been infamous for its poor integration of young players, and it is easy for Italian youngsters to be crucified by fans and the media alike after a mistake or two.

To make matters worse, Italy failed to get out of the group stage at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, then failed to qualify for the 2018 edition. Spain, who won the tournament in 2010, and Germany, who won it four years later, have had B teams in their football system for years. Having those B teams gave youngsters senior experience before playing for the first team.

In Italy, it is commonplace for clubs to send several players on loan in the hope that they would come good and sell them at a profit. Juventus were one of the clubs most renowned for sending many players on loan to other Serie A sides or to teams in the lower divisions.

Creating the Juventus Next Gen team has kept these kids within the Bianconeri system and surroundings, and provided them with a better pathway to the senior squad.

Given the number of injuries Massimiliano Allegri has had to deal with in 2022/23, the Juventus coach has been promoting youngsters from the Next Gen side and most of them have shown that they can handle playing in Serie A.

Juventus’ Fabio Miretti. (@juventusfc)

Notable players from the Juventus Next Gen featuring for the Bianconeri

Nicolo Fagioli and Fabio Miretti are arguably the two most impressive players to have come through the Juventus Next Gen team. Both midfielders have made 25 Serie A appearances so far in 2022/23. However, Fagioli has started more games and scored three goals whereas Miretti has not found the back of the yet this season.

The aforementioned Iling-Junior arrived from Chelsea in 2020 and featured mostly in the Primavera team. He scored three goals in eight games for the Juventus Next Gen side in this campaign and he has earned the trust of Allegri in recent weeks.

Other footballers that have been promoted to the senior team this season include Argentinians Enzo Barrenechea and Matias Soule, who scored in the 4-2 win against Sampdoria on Serie A Matchday 26, and Tommaso Barbieri.

Inter’s Matteo Darmian and Juventus’ Matias Soule battle for the ball. [@juventusfcen]

Notable players from the Juventus Next Gen playing elsewhere

Portuguese forward Dany Mota spent half a season in 2019/20 in the Juventus U23 team before moving to Monza in January 2020 as the Brianzoli rose from the divisions before making their Serie A debut in 2022/23. Prior to joining Juve’s reserve squad, his previous experiences in Italian football were at Virtus Entella as well as the Sassuolo Primavera team.

Central midfielder Hans Nicolussi Caviglia came through the Juventus Next Gen team. He spent the first half of the 2022/23 season in Serie B on loan at Sudtirol and he went on loan to Salernitana for the second half of this campaign.

Gianluca Frabotta was integrated into the senior squad by Andrea Pirlo in the 2020/21 season and showed flashes of brilliance. He has played an important role this season for Frosinone as they secured promotion to Serie A for 2023/24.

On a more infamous note, Manolo Portanova also played for the Juventus U23 team before making the move to Genoa where he was later found guilty of rape. His crime has meant that he did not feature prominently in Serie B as they made a quick return to Serie A.

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