Simone Pafundi in the big leagues at only 16 years old


In the 85th minute against Torino (1-0), Udinese coach Andrea Sottil brought in the young Italian attacking midfielder Simone Pafundi (16), in place of Nehuén Pérez. A tactical change that allowed him to celebrate his first professional appearance of the season, his second in his career after replacing Roberto Pereyra in the league against Salernitana last year. With this event, he became the first player born in 2006 to play a Serie A match. In two seasons with Udinese’s Primavera, Pafundi combines very good individual statistics: 9 goals and 15 assists in 36 games played since 2021.

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“He’s a hugely helpful lad who’s been training with us for four or five months – we were worried about throwing him in the bath too soon. He is an undisputed talent, he has the ability to become a top player, like all the youngsters in the team, like Udogie and Samardzic. But they have a lot of work to do they are only at the beginning of their ascent.said former Primi Bianconeri d’Italia coach Gabriele Cioffi for the club’s official website in May 2022. It was the latter who decided to integrate him into the professional group after signing his first professional contract on March 14. A start of development perfectly taken up by Andrea Sottil today, his successor on the bench of Udinese.

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Already called by Roberto Mancini

But the first big twists for the young Friulian with Neapolitan blood have taken place this season. Present on his team’s match sheet eleven times over the 21 days of Serie A, Simone Pafundi is more than ever integrated into the professional group. Even if he does not return often and sometimes returns to Primavera to play the role of leader among young people, he has already caught the eye of Roberto Mancini, coach of the Nazionale. Shortlisted for an internship in May and then officially called up last November, the young 16-year-old celebrates his first cap against Albania when he comes into play in place of Marco Verratti. An unprecedented earliness record for 100 years, which beats the already impressive lead of Gianluigi Donnarumma or Giorgio Scalvini during their first selection: “The emotion was big, strong, a dream I’ve had since I was little. Everything was very beautiful”rejoiced the teenager who also displays good performances in the U-17s (5 caps, 4 goals).

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With such developed qualities, this agile, technical and fast little left-hander is already a specialist in free kicks and penalties. He thus has all the weapons to continue his hatching in a team renowned for developing young players well. In Udine, some are already comparing him to Roberto Baggio and hope to see this diamond polish effectively for the greater good of the Squadra Azzurra in full reconstruction since the non-qualification for the World Cup in Qatar. And most importantly, what his trainers and coaches really like: his maturity, his attitude and his seriousness. Inter Milan and Napoli have already inquired this winter for a possible next signing.

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