Manuel Locatelli is Italy’s Euro 2020 hero, he was compared to Andrea Pirlo, is wanted by Juventus, Man City and Arsenal, and mimicked Cristiano Ronaldo

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Manuel Locatelli is Italy’s Euro 2020 hero, he was compared to Andrea Pirlo, is wanted by Juventus, Man City and Arsenal, and mimicked Cristiano Ronaldo


Italy didn’t head into Euro 2020 as one of the favourites to win it, but they look like they could go all the way, especially if Manuel Locatelli has anything to do with it.

Roberto Mancini’s men are currently on a 30-game unbeaten streak and haven’t lost a game since 2018.

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Sassuolo midfielder Locatelli has impressed during at the tournament

A key cog in the former Manchester City manager’s system during this time has been Locatelli.

The midfielder has put his name on the map with his heroics during the Azzurri’s victories over Turkey and Switzerland.

After starring in the opening game, Locatelli then scored twice against the Swiss, including a brilliant long distance strike, and was the best player on the pitch, and is likely to feature again when they face Wales on Sunday, live on talkSPORT.

But who is the young star who is wanted by some of the best clubs in the world?

Mancini is a big fan of the 23 year-old

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Mancini is a big fan of the 23 year-old

After starting his youth career with Atalanta his talent was so evident that by the age of just 11 he had moved to AC Milan. 

He was likened to Andrea Pirlo at an early age, and for good reason as they share several similarities. 

His ability to create chances and dictate the pace of a game, combined with versatility and incredible vision make him a quality midfielder.

Meanwhile one of youth sector chiefs, Mauro Bianchessi, believed it would take him just three years to become their skipper when queried about his talents in 2016.

He insisted: “He is a player of the highest quality, he has been with us since he was 11 and in three years he will be the captain of Milan”

7. Manuel Locatelli, 19, AC Milan (centre midfield)

Locatelli was seen as one of the most exciting young players in Italy during his time at Milan

It’s perhaps no surprise former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger sent chief scout Neil Banfield to run the rule over him, such was the hype around his ability.

AC Milan owner at the time, Silvio Berlusconi, was one of those who labelled him the ‘new Pirlo’.

Locatelli was thankful for the comments and he targeted emulating his hero immediately, saying: “I appreciate the president’s words, they made me very proud.

“I plan to keep my feet on the ground and give my all in training. I had a poster of Andrea Pirlo on my wall, he was my idol. I want to emulate him, I watch his matches to learn from him.”

Having made his Milan debut in 2016 he was quickly featuring regularly over the next two years, however mainly as a substitute.

By the end of 2017/18 he found himself behind Lucas Biglia in the Milan midfield, while the club then decided to bring in Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko on loan.

This and the club suggesting he should move on loan saw Locatelli submit a transfer request.

Bakayoko arriving at AC Milan on loan from Chelsea saw Locatelli leave the club

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Bakayoko arriving at AC Milan on loan from Chelsea saw Locatelli leave the club

His move to Sassuolo in 2018 has been a huge success, with the club signing him on loan with an obligation to buy, and Locatelli’s decision paid off. 

He said: “I wasn’t abandoned but it’s fair to say that they didn’t trust me anymore. I knew Sassuolo was the right choice. I feel important here even if AC Milan was my life for 10 years.”

He enjoyed a fine 2020/21, and Roberto Mancini has clearly been impressed by what he had seen.

Locatelli is making a name for himself for club and country

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Locatelli is making a name for himself for club and country

It’s not only the Azzurri chief who is fond of Locatelli.

A fine season with Sassuolo has seen Juventus linked with his services and Claudio Marchisio, a hero in Turin, is a big fan of the player and his progression.

He said: “I think he has completed his maturation with Sassuolo. Now, he is a totally different player than when he was playing for Milan, even on a mental level.

“Inside the match, he manages to dictate the bets and is also very good at reading the various situations of the match, both in the offensive phase and in the defensive phase.”

Locatelli has found himself likened to his hero Pirlo

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Locatelli has found himself likened to his hero Pirlo

Speaking on a potential move this summer, the Locatelli revealed: “I don’t know if this will be my last year here or what the future holds for me. When, and if, there are opportunities, we will evaluate them all together.”

“Playing abroad is an option for me and at the moment I’m not excluding anything. It’s part of my job and it means that I have raised my level.

Locatelli is a rising star in Serie A

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Locatelli is a rising star in Serie A

“Certain certificates of esteem and interest from big clubs increase my motivation and make me understand I’m on the right track.”

If interest comes from abroad, you can bet Man City boss Pep Guardiola, reportedly a big fan, will be pushing hard for his transfer.

The club, like Arsenal, have been scouting him for years, and sealing his transfer would add to an already star studded team

Locatelli’s delight at scoring for his nation at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday was evident and he has always dreamt of representing his country at a major tournament.

Arsenal plot summer move for the 'new Pirlo’ - AC Milan starlet Manuel Locatelli

Locatelli has represented Italy in every youth level

Speaking on playing for the Azzurri at Euro 2020 he said: “Representing Italy and the Italian people at the Euros is a beautiful responsibility that everyone wants to have. It is something to tell our children about

“For me it is a dream that I have had since I was a child. I used to watch these competitions on a big screen with my friends.”

And off the pitch he’s had a bit of mischief too at the tournament.

After Cristiano Ronaldo snubbed Coca-Cola by removing their bottles during a press conference Locatelli joined in on the fun by doing the same. 

The competition is only just heating up, but so is Locatelli and he’s one to keep an eye on as a summer transfer looks almost certain.





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