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Profiling Cesare Casadei, Chelsea's latest teenage signing

A bitesize profile of the highly-rated, senior-ready Italian midfieler

Cesare Casadei playing in a pre-season friendly for Inter
Stephen Ganavas

AUGUST 16, 2022

Who is Cesare Casadei?

The race to accumulate the world’s best youngsters earlier and earlier in their careers has never been more competitive. And there’s been fewer clubs more active in the wheeling and dealing than Chelsea.

The latest name that seems headed for Stamford Bridge is Cesare Casadei, another player alongside Carney Chukwuemeka, that Scouted Football placed in our Under-19 Euro Team of the Tournament. It’s the perfect time to target the Italian as well, who has less than 12 months left on his deal with Inter and is ready to have a pathway planned out for him to push into senior football as quickly as possible.

What is Cesare Casadei's style of play?

First, and most obviously, Casadei is a big boy. Honestly, he looks very senior football ready. He probably would’ve made his debut if he played for just about any other Serie A club, but Inter’s midfield has been so dominant and such a lynchpin of their success over the last two seasons that he hasn’t been able to get a look in. Instead, he has resorted to dominating the Italian Primavera championship.

I’ve seen him listed in a few places at 186cm/6’1”, but it would not shock me if he’s a bit taller than that. Regardless, that’s a good size for a midfielder, and he is 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 really well too. He gave Arsenal’s Brooke Norton-Cuffy a torrid time in Italy’s Under-19 Euro semi-final against England, with his speed, physicality and slide tackling, leading to Norton-Cuffy’s 60th minute substitution. And it’s worth bearing mind that Norton-Cuffy is no ordinary under-19 player, he was a very solid performer for a promotion-chasing Lincoln City team in League One last season.

His defensive intensity and competency brings a certain skill floor to his game, that will at least give his potential manager something to work with before factoring in what he can do off the ball. But I think his quickness and agility is a major asset, allowing him to function in some different roles, rather than being your standard defensive anchor.

This is important too, because it would be difficult to get the best out of him as an anchoring midfielder. He is a good short passer, but he doesn’t really have the expansive long range game you’d like for a player in that position. Likewise, he is a decent ball carrier into space and dribbler once he gets on the move, but I don’t really see him as an elite level press-resistant number six. He is a lot more slippery with his head up driving forward than when he receives with his back to a marker.

But there is a lot to like about Casadei’s on-ball skillset. He is a really crisp short passer through the lines, and plays his passes with intent – hitting them firmly and accurately to ensure moves continue to progress with purpose.

And he is really comfortable in the attacking half where he needs to make these passes because his dexterity on the ball when he is facing forward is fantastic. He has a nice hesitation dribble that helps him earn a little bit of time on the ball to make decisions, and if he is moving at speed he can burst past players too and take the game on with his aggressive ball carrying into space.

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The part of his game that probably will probably stack up best at senior level is his ability to attack the penalty box. He found a lot of success there with Inter this season – where he played a bit more of an attacking role than he did with Italy – scoring 14 goals in 2,270 minutes in the Primavera last season. This is slightly beefed up by a few penalties, but he has genuine ability in the air, and a great sense of timing as a late runner towards the back post. Dare I say there’s something a little bit Sergej Milinkovic-Savic about Casadei.

The main issue for a potential coach is probably working out exactly what role to play him in. For Italy, he plays as a mezzala. For Inter, he has been more of a box-to-box midfielder that attacks the penalty area aggressively. Both of those roles are possibly a slightly weird fit for Chelsea given the preferred formation and players at Thomas Tuchel’s disposal.

Cesare Casadei is a big-bodied midfielder that possesses a senior-ready physique. One of his most valuable traits is his ability to attack the box from deep, and his off-ball work in general is very impressive.

An issue with Cesare Casadei is finding a role that suits him. He also has margin to improve as a passer, which would add another dynamic to his all-action skillset.

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