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Scout Report: Chelsea-Linked Leonardo Spinazzola

The Italian has been one of the stand-out performers at Euro 2020

According to reports from Italian outlet Il Messaggero, Chelsea are interested in a move for Roma’s 28-year-old left-back Leonardo Spinazzola. The Italian is enjoying a fine Euro 2020 tournament to date, following an impressive season in Serie A, with Real Madrid also reportedly interested.

This interest comes after news Chelsea are open to selling both Marcos Alonso and Emerson this summer, with Inter and Barcelona in the mix for the former. Spinazzola is a versatile player and would act as understudy to Ben Chilwell in the left-back role.

Spinazzola has been capped for Italy seven times

Spinazzola has been capped for Italy seven times

What profile does Spinazzola offer, and what could he contribute to a Chelsea squad competing in four competitions next year?

Career to date

Spinazzola spent nine years with Juventus after joining aged 17, although only played 10 times for the first team, going on loan to seven different Italian teams. His spell at Atalanta between 2016 and 2018 caught the attention of Roma, who signed him for €29.5 million in the summer of 2019.

Spinazzola played 32 games in his debut season in Rome, including in the Europa League as La Lupa were knocked out by Sevilla. Spinazzola proved his versatility by playing 18 times on the left, alternating between full-back and wing-back, and 14 times on the right.

Spinazzola excelled in the Europa League last season as Roma 

Spinazzola excelled in the Europa League last season as Roma 

Spinazzola became a vital member of the Roma team last season, increasing his involvement to 39 games. Spinazzola’s three assists in the Europa League earned him a place in the tournament Squad of the Season, whilst he also became a regular in Roberto Mancini’s outstanding Italy team, who are unbeaten in 31 games.

Spinazzola continued this form into Euro 2020, with an average SofaScore rating of 7.17 - named Man of the Match against both Turkey and Austria. Spinazzola completed 100% of his passes in the latter game and provided an assist, and was rated by WhoScored as the joint second best player in their first major tournament (7.56).

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Profile

Spinazzola is a dynamic player capable in a number of positions - right-footed, he is able to play as a full-back or wing-back, and has also played on the right and at centre-back and in midfield occasionally. Spinazzola’s game centre's on his exceptional athleticism - his pace and stamina makes him a threat deep into 90 minutes, and his 10 goals and assists last season reflect his impact in attacking areas.

Spinazzola in action against Turkey 

Spinazzola in action against Turkey 

Whilst on loan at Atalanta in 2016, Spinazzola said “I study videos of Gianluca Zambrotta, while I really Alex Sandro”, and he has been compared to the former player by Football Italia in terms of his work-rate and attacking instincts. Spinazzola has also been praised for his ability to pass the ball instantly upon receiving it, and his anticipation in the air.

This is reflected in Spinazzola’s statistics over the last 365 days. His 0.22 expected assists per 90 is in the top 4% for left-backs in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues, whilst his 2.97 shot-creating actions per 90 is in the top 6%.

As mentioned, Spinazzola’s levels of athleticism are elite for the role he plays - he is in the top 1% for total carrying distance per 90 (342m), progressive carries per 90 (9.46), and carries into the penalty area per 90 (2.16). This productivity can be clearly seen in his heat-map for last season: 

Spinazzola

What happens next?

Valued at €26 million by TransferMarkt, any deal involving Spinazzola would be dependent on Chelsea offloading both Emerson and Marcos Alonso, which could be difficult in a COVID-hit transfer market.

If Chelsea choose not to pursue Spinazzola, Thomas Tuchel could choose to keep Kenedy as a rotation option at left wing-back, who had a superb season with Granada. Tuchel reportedly wants to see Kenedy train before making a decision on his future, although the primary issue will likely be finding buyers for Alonso and/or Emerson. 


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