By Daniel Lucci.
It wasn’t so long ago that Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi was seen as one of the best up and coming Italian footballers.
His promising youth career with the Neroverdi convinced Serie A giants Juventus to sign him on a co-ownership deal in the summer of 2013 for around €4.5m.
Berardi then immediately returned to Sassuolo on loan in order to get constant playing time, but after a couple of injury-riddled and unimpressive campaigns, he had failed to progress as many thought he would. As a result, Juventus offloaded him back to Sassuolo for €10m in the summer of 2015.
Five years have passed, and now captaining Sassuolo it seems Mimmo is finally living up to that original hype.
The 26-year-old has been able to show his talent on a consistent basis, leading Sassuolo by example. He is mostly known as a right winger, but can also play from the left or through the middle, showing his quality and versatility, and therefore his value to the team.
Berardi possesses loads of pace cutting in off the wing, wonderful vision with the ball at his feet, a lethal left foot, and on a few occasions has shown he can be clinical from set pieces.
Last season he posted numbers to match his breakout Serie A seasons in 2014 and 2015, tallying 14 goals, along with 10 assists in 31 appearances. His contributions helped Sassuolo finish a more than respectable eighth in the standings.
Thus far this season, Mimmo has picked up much where he left off in last campaign. In his five appearances, he has scored three goals, adding two assists, helping Sassuolo remain undefeated this season and catapulting them into second place. Not bad for a player many had given up on just a few seasons ago.
Not only has Berardi been able to prove his worth on the pitch, but his coach Roberto De Zerbi also spoke very highly of the attacker’s conduct off it.
His coach believes he may not be getting the recognition he truly deserves.
“I would like to have many of Berardi, said De Zerbi. “In training, he is an example. He is underestimated, like so many things at Sassuolo.
“Domenico is ambitious and lives for football. He is intelligent and sensitive. He has refused so many opportunities, maybe he will do it this summer or later on.
“When he plays in a bigger club, he will get the right evaluation.”
De Zerbi has shown belief in Berardi since he took over as Sassuolo boss, and Mimmo has repaid his coach many times over with some incredible performances.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini has also observed what Berardi’s development, and rewarded him with a competitive senior international debut in 2018. He now has gone on to make seven appearances and has also scored for his country.
It is evident Berardi has the skill to play amongst some of the best but the question remains whether is he ready to make the jump to a bigger team, whether he wants to make that jump.
There have been various transfer rumours linking him with teams from the English Premier League, while many others in Serie A have shown interest in the attacker. Now would be as good as time as ever for Berardi to strongly consider a move to a bigger, challenging club, involved in either the UEFA Champions League or Europa League.
Although it has taken Mimmo a little longer to mature on the pitch, he is by no means is a late bloomer, with arguably his prime years still ahead of him.
For him to fully take that next step in his career and prove to all that he is a top talent, a transfer to the Premier League or a Serie A challenger may be the best move. Rumours have previously mentioned that the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan and Napoli, and any one of these teams, plus many others, would benefit from Berardi’s presence.
Regardless of whether he does decide to stay put or move on to new challenges, Berardi will continue to be an important player on any team for years to come, and if he continues to perform at the top of his game he will become a regular for Italy, and will help his beloved Sassuolo be successful once again this season.
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