Scouting report: The next Andrea Pirlo

FourFourTwo contributor and Serie Aaaaargh! blogger Riccardo Rossi tells us about the Italian midfielder being tipped to follow in the illustrious footsteps of the great Andrea Pirlo for the Azzurri...

Riccardo Montolivo
Age 25
Position Central midfield
Nationality Italian
Club Fiorentina
Games 221 Goals 17 (career)

Sometimes you have to take a step back to go forward. This has certainly been the case for the Fiorentina schemer, who under the astute Cesare Prandelli has been transformed from an attacking midfielder into a deep-lying playmaker

The Viola coach felt that the player lacked sufficient pace to play behind the front-two, but possessed a wide range of passing and shrewd reading of the game to exploit space from a withdrawn role

Now 24, the former Atalanta graduate is certainly a composed customer on the ball and his ability to retain possession could see him back-up Andrea Pirlo in the Italy squad for the World Cup

Tall and physically imposing, he may not be a fearsome ball-winner but his duties are not confined to a holding role and once in possession he can drive forward incisively before delivering a decisive pass or unleashing a thunderous drive

Head held high and an elegant mover, it was a innate desire to have the ball at his feet that propelled the Bergamo-born lad through the ranks of his local club to his debut at 18 and an equally stellar parallel career at international level to captain the Italy Under-21s

A move to Florence was soon followed by a call-up the full Azzurri squad two seasons ago

However, that lack of natural pace was the square peg in the round hole to completing the photo-fit of a true trequartista but the recent tactical switch provides the perfect foundations for a solid future - both for club and country.

Talentspotter Ratings:
Heading 5
Crossing 7
Tackling 5
Creativity 8
Passing 8
Work-rate 8
Pace 6
Shooting 9
Dribbling 7
Overall 7