Who is Cesare Casadei?
It’s hard to imagine Cesare Casadei could ever have envisioned the 2022/23 season he was about to have 12 months ago. The first surprise came with his shock move to Chelsea as he became caught up in the loan deal that saw Romelu Lukaku return to the Blues.
Then came the struggles with adapting to England, being stuck in Chelsea’s U-21 team for half the season, before a January loan to Reading allowed him to show his promise, despite playing in a struggling side.
All that experience gained eventually culminated in some remarkable performances at this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup, in which the big midfielder earned the tournament’s Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards, scoring six goals in seven games, driving Italy to the final. We had him in our bespoke team of the tournament too,
Cesare Casadei's style of play
First and foremost, Casadei is a big boy. I’ve seen him listed in a few places at 6’1”, but it would not shock me if he is a bit taller than that. Regardless, that’s a good size for a midfielder, and he’s pretty robust both in and out of possession too.
His off the ball work is very impressive. He can eat up the ground quickly in defensive transitions and defend out wide effectively too, as well as showing good lateral mobility and agility to defend against ball-carriers.
Casadei’s physical capabilities are a significant weapon in possession too. His ability to crash the box has been a constant feature since his time in Inter’s Primavera team, and it was once again highlighted in the Under-20 World Cup. He dominates in the air, with a great leap, sense of timing, and then has the size and intent to beat his marker to smash headers.
The Italian can be a bit of a mixed bag in possession. He excels when he has his head up and is able to play directly as a short passer and ball-carrier; he glides through space when everything is moving towards goal, but struggles a bit more receiving the ball with pressure on his back, and always seems to need to take one or two touches too many to move the ball on in these situations, often slowing down the play as a consequence.
It’s pretty clear that his future does not lie as a deep-lying six or as a pivot; Casadei is clearly in that goal-scoring eight mould. Coaches should be encouraged to get him picking up possession in or approaching the final third as much as possible.
He always seems much more comfortable dribbling and combining in these spaces than he does further away from goal where players feel more comfortable pressing aggressively further away from their goal.
Cesare Casadei's goals and assists
Cesare Casadei is a powerful attacking presence from his post in midfield. Not nominally a number ten, he still racks up the goals attacking the box and bringing his massive aerial presence.
Cesare Casadei can struggle playing with his back to goal with pressure in his back, often needing extra touches to make decisions and ultimately slowing the game down when he receives in these positions.