Milan Primavera qualified for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League after beating Rukh Lviv 1-0 on Tuesday afternoon, and there was a new hero in Kevin Zeroli.
Ignazio Abate’s side won the one-off game against the side from Ukraine – who had knocked Inter out of the competition – thanks to a superb header from Zeroli after a good move led to a cross from Bakoune the right wing.
The goal came in the 85th minute sparking wild celebrations, and after the game it emerged that the match-winner was being closely watched by a scout from a German club and from an English side too. So, just who is Kevin Zeroli?
One of Zeroli’s biggest strength is how dangerous he is in attack, thanks to his vision and high footballing IQ which means he almost always has some great movements/runs into the box and can then either create a shot for himself or open space for his team-mates to finish.
In the clip below, Zeroli shows his great vision and intelligence, getting the ball inside the box. A lot of players would try to get a shot off, but Zeroli sees that Chaka Traore is completely free and passes the ball instantly with first touch to Chaka who then scores.
Another big strength the 18-year-old has is his aerial dominance. Every time he goes into the box with an attacking run any cross coming from Bakoune/Bozzolan seems to be met by Zeroli and he has a great technique to make sure his attempts are on target, meaning he is a threat from set pieces too.
Dribbling in tight spaces is one thing that Zeroli does well too: he can pull himself out of any tight situation thanks to his tight ball control and quick feet (despite his size and height). In the clip below we see an example of his footwork and dribbling inside the box.
Being a box-to-box midfielder means also helping out in defensive work too. Zeroli has a great vision and understanding of the movement of opponents which helps him rack up interceptions, while he also seems to be particularly good at timing and judgement of tackles.
Again in this clip you can see Zeroli’s understanding of space and his great ball control. He sees the space that opens up with defenders putting pressure on his team-mate, so he starts his run into space and gets a long ball which he controls very well with his head.
Zeroli still has some weaknesses to address, one of which is in his passing where he sometimes struggles to be accurate which can result in the team losing the ball.
On some occasions he is penalised with fouls because he is too physical in winning the ball back, but these are things that can be developed and would probably be different in senior football too.
Zeroli’s best position is as a box-to-box player similar to Tonali, but in terms of his physical and technical characteristics he is more comparable to Aster Vranckx when he was back at KV Mechelen.
The teenager has all the pre-requisite skills to be a great midfielder in a top side if he keeps up his current trajectory, and the goal against Rukh Lviv is just an example of how he might even turn into a future match-winner too.