Davide Frattesi

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US Sassuolo's Davide Frattesi
Stephen Ganavas

APRIL 1, 2022

Note: This profile was first written in November 2021. All statistics and facts are correct to that time period.

Update: Coming as a surprise to no one, Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi has been one of the standout performers in this season’s Serie A. Four goals, including one in a win away to Juventus, has been a strong return for the central midfielder, with his ability to arrive late in the box being one of the key barometers of his performance level.

As with his clubmates Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca, Frattesi is being tracked by all the big clubs in Italy, with rumours popping up all throughout January suggesting Inter and Juventus are preparing an assault for him at the end of the season.

Who is Davide Frattesi?

Now aged 22, for those unfamiliar with Italy’s youth international teams or Serie B, it may seem as though Davide Frattesi’s arrival onto the scene has been sudden.

But locked away on a succession of loan spells in Italy’s second division, the combative midfielder has been earning his stripes waiting for the opportunity to emerge with his parent club Sassuolo.

Since leaving his hometown club AS Roma in 2017 to join Sassuolo, Frattesi has consistently raised his level; moving from the Primavera to join Ascoli on loan, before spend­ing two seasons with promotion-chasing clubs in the form of Empoli and Monza. He amassed over 100 Serie B ap­pearances over three seasons, winning the Premio Manilo Scopigno, Serie B’s player of the season award, last sea­son alongside Italian under-21 team-mate Samuele Ricci. 

Since 2015, Frattesi has also featured over 50 times for Italy at youth level as an ever-present from the under-17s to under-21s. All the graft and experience gained has readied him perfectly for the step up to Serie A in the current 2021/22 season.

So, with the departure of Manuel Locatelli and the arrival of new coach Alessio Dionisi, it was time for a 22-year-old Frattesi to finally be exposed to Italy’s top division. And there have been no real teething issues as yet, with the Italian playing in the dynamic, aggressive, high-intensity role he is so familiar with – although he does so from a slightly more reserved position on the right-hand side of a double-pivot midfield with Maxime Lopez.

As if Italy needed any more impressive midfielders of high potential, they have managed to develop another. And while no national call-up is forthcoming, Frattesi is making impressive strides forward for one of Serie A’s most excit­ing clubs under an equally impressive young coach.

Davide Frattesi playing for Italy

Davide Frattesi's style of play

English pundits would love to commentate on Frattesi’s matches. He brings pace, power, passion and desire to the game, and has been a consistent performer that rarely puts in bad shift. He is big-bodied midfielder that throws his weight around, bruises the opposition and seeks to domi­nate within his sphere of influence. 

He looks like a night­mare to play against as he constantly snaps at the heels of his direct opponent in attempts to win back possession. And he is quick too, regularly demonstrating great recov­ery speed that makes him a very valuable asset when de­fending in transition – an important virtue in a ball-domi­nant team that wants to defend high up the pitch.

He is a little rough around the edges, but in a young Sass­uolo team that is not necessarily a bad thing. His grit and determination brings a steely edge to a team that otherwise lacks it. 

And his engine and gut-running makes him a con­sistent contributor at both ends of the field. Underlining that, Frattesi ranks in the 92nd and 95th percentiles amongst players in Europe’s top-five leagues for touches in the at­tacking and defensive penalty areas respectively. He is the definition of a box-to-box midfielder.

But Frattesi’s rough exterior and work ethic belies a sur­prisingly strong technical skillset. Tasked with replacing a Manuel Locatelli-shaped hole in Sassuolo’s midfield, he has not let standards drop. 

Naturally, he is a different style of player, one that prefers to drive forward and attack space in possession rather than stretch play with a superb passing range. But in a high possession team like Sassuolo, Frattesi is having to refine and develop his distribution skills, as teams set up their blocks and restrict his ability to burst into spaces on the break.

Regardless, his base position is too deep to be too aggressive as a ball-carrier. And so, his primarily role with Sassuolo has seen him shuffling the ball around short in midfield, with the occasional cross-field diagonal to mix things up. It is not the best use of his qualities in possession, but understandable given the club’s wealth of attacking options.

Nonetheless, Frattesi has found enough moments to attack the final third and highlight how damaging he can be. And he certainly can be impactful. More a goalscorer than cre­ator, Frattesi bagged eight in just over 2,600 minutes with Monza last season – including, quite interestingly, three near-post headers from corners – and laid on two assists.

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This is obviously a great return for a midfielder, and more importantly, it appears to be replicable. He looks com­fortable around the edge of the penalty area and possess­es a very powerful shooting technique, although he could make better decisions regarding when and where to pull the trigger from outside the box, a trait seemingly endemic amongst young Italian midfielders.

That said, his various coaches have probably not yet made the most of Frattesi’s ability to push forward as a runner from midfield. He is certainly capable of chipping in with a near-double-digit goal tally if given license to attack the box with regularity. In a Sassuolo team that has struggled for goals this season, exploiting this quality could prove life-changing for the Neroverdi.

Forecasting Davide Frattesi's Future

Frattesi is at a great club with a strong overall project where he can continue developing his skillset. Alongside Atalan­ta, Sassuolo are Serie A’s benchmark for smart recruitment, and pairing those players with forward-thinking coach. But with Dionisi, Sassuolo play a more relatable style that per­haps showcases how their players might fit at an elite club better than the unique style of Gian Piero Gasperini.

Regardless, Frattesi is a in a good spot. As Locatelli, Do­menico Berardi and Giacomo Raspadori have shown, play­ing for Sassuolo is no barrier to playing for the national team. And in Locatelli’s case, playing for the club for three years showed the development pathway on offer, as he transformed into the dominant regista we now see at Ju­ventus. 

Frattesi’s transformation need not be so dramatic; but slight technical improvements should help him propel him further into the national footballing consciousness. Frattesi’s athleticism and skillset has enormous potential. In the last two seasons, we have seen the rise of Nicolò Barella at Inter as an excellent box-to-box terrier. Frattesi has the potential to be just as dynamic; a hard-working de­fensive presence with a clinical attacking edge.

scoutedftbl.com

Davide Frattesi is a high-energy midfielder that provides a forceful box-to-box presence, both as a defender and attacker. He’s a strong athlete that can impact games on both sides of the ball, not least as a goalscorer from deeper roles.

Davide Frattesi can be rough around the edges, especially in his passing and ball control. Improving those areas (even slightly) will make him a more rounded midfielder capable of playing at the highest levels.