Macheda may make more Italians switch shores

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Around 50 young Italian footballers have moved to the United Kingdom in the last 12 years, thanks in part to different regulations and, of course, a salary that the average youngster back home can only dream about.

The ruling in Italy is that a player cannot sign professional forms until he turns 18, although they can sign a youth deal at 16 which is not very binding.

So during those formative years, clubs from the English Premier League, Scottish Premier League or Bundesliga can whisk any potential boy-wonder off to a new life.

Macheda swivels and sinks Villa hearts

Federico Macheda is the most recent starlet to have grabbed the headlines and is following a well-torn path which has seen Gino Gattuso pitch up at Rangers rather hang around at Perugia, Giuseppe Rossi exit Parma for Manchester United, Sam Dalla Bona go from the Italy youth captain to Chelsea first teamer and Enzo Maresca - who would later play for Juventus - earn his stripes at West Bromwich Albion.

There is little sign of the exodus of the country’s brightest talent ceasing, and only last summer Manchester City swooped into Naples to spirit away 15-year-old Marcello Trotta.

Napoli probably never thought anyone would leave home at such a tender age, but when the player’s parents are sold a future much better than the one set out before them, you can see which choice they are going to take.  

Macheda was a youth player with Lazio, who had not set in motion an agreement for a professional contract, even though they knew they had a real gem on their hands.

It was a Welshman living near Parma, David Williams, who put United on to the strapping 15-year-old and the Premier League club cushioned any homesickness the teenager might have felt by offering to ship the whole family over to Manchester.

So Lazio could not really complain if they weren’t taking steps to protect their prize assets, and the same could be said of AS Roma when United then nipped across town to snatch away the Giallorossi’s top youth team goal-scorer, Davide Petrucci.

Maresca: Honing his skills at the Hawthorns

Apparently, the youngster received a contract of 104,000 euro a year – a basic youth contract in Italy is just over 17,000 euro - with Roma compensated something in the region of 300,000 euro.

At the time, Il Romanista newspaper called it “a nightmare.”

“Manchester have stolen the best young player we have had in years and in a few years he will be worth a fortune,” the paper lamented in an editorial.

Perugia are probably feeling the same, having lost Italian youth goalkeeper Mirko Ranieri to Spurs where the 16-year-old is continuing his education at the Premier League club’s youth academy.

Rossi is a son of immigrant workers who moved to America to improve their lot, so he is well placed to explain why a youngster would seek a future away from Italian shores – and it appears to be down to feeling valued.

“Italian clubs are too concerned with showing off big-name signings at the expense of promising home-grown talent,” claimed the Villarreal frontman. “They make their decisions but I was free to make mine so that is why I left for Manchester United.”

Rossi: Tricks and flicks earn move to Villarreal

Macheda’s father Pasquale admitted that he had made sacrifices to ensure his son’s dream came true and told La Gazzetta dello Sport:  “I worked two jobs, worked nights but when Manchester [United] demonstrated how much they were willing to invest in Federico and at the same time look after my family, we could not turn them down.”

That debut goal has been re-run again and again on television in Italy, and the sight of Macheda being mobbed by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs will only fuel the dreams of other protégés to seek the similar fame and fortune for themselves.

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