Data Scouting Serie C for U24 Players: All Positions

Article by Ben Griffis – all data via Wyscout

There are 60 teams in Serie C, Italy’s 3rd division. Only four teams win promotion to Serie B: the winners of each of the three groups, and the winners of the promotion playoffs, which contain no fewer than 28 teams. Needless to say, there are bound to be plenty of young players who could make the step up to Serie B (or other leagues abroad) even if their team does not win promotion in likely one of the most difficult leagues to win promotion from.

I won’t discuss my exact method for everything in this article, as I already wrote that up in my first data scouting article.

Today, I’m going to take a dive into Serie C’s data to find a several players for each outfield position, age 24 or younger, that have good profiles and performances in metrics important to a relatively standard team (for example, one traditional winger, one inverted; one playmaking CM, one more defensive/box-to-box, etc). At the end I’ll share my data “dream team”.

Note that while I’m casting a decently wide net for players, it is still relatively restrictive and looks for players who are performing well now in several key metrics, instead of players who are ones for the future. It is also non-exhaustive and entirely dependent on subjective filtering decisions by me, so there will be other young, quality players who are good in their positions but don’t get caught by my specific net.

General Note

I’m including players with at least 1,500 minutes played this season. That’s about half the season, since all 60 teams have played 33 matches at time of writing. Normally I use just 900 minutes (ten full matches), but for a third division, I’d expect any promising young player able to make the step up to be able to play half the season at bare minimum.

There will be exceptions, such as a promising player who storms onto the scene in the final third of the season, or a great player who has an injury. These will be case-by-case, so from a wide-casting-net data standpoint, I’m looking for players able to play at least half the season. Don’t worry, Serie C is essentially three leagues of 20 teams each, so we’ll have no shortage of players!

For all role/positions, I will use a two-level initial filter. Some metrics I only need players to be at least decent in, meaning no worse than a third of a standard deviation below the mean (z-score >= -0.33). But other metrics I deem more important will require players to be better than average in, so at least better than the mean (which is a z-score > 0).

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Center Backs – Ball Players

Total sample size (all CBs with at least 1,500 minutes, regardless of age) = 162 players.

Note that I am only looking for ball-playing CBs, as defensive metrics used today are, in my personal opinion, completely unable to capture a player’s actual defensive ability, that is, ability out of possession. Metrics like aerial win % or defensive duel win % are really the only ones I feel comfortable using. Even possession-adjusting metrics like tackles or interceptions still have loads of external factors that you just can’t control for when adjusting for possession only.

The first-level metrics, i.e., metrics these CBs need to be at least passable in:

  • Defensive duel win %
  • Aerial duel win %

the second-level metrics the players need to be better than average in are:

  • Short pass completion %
  • Long pass completion %

Below are the U24 center backs who meet these criteria. Please note that for all data in this article is from Wyscout, and Wyscout gets their market values & contract expiry dates from Transfermarkt.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Stefano CellaCB, RCBVirtus Verona (Cremonese)21Italy225,0006/30/2024
Gabriele BellodiCB, LCB, RCBOlbia (AC Milan)22Italy150,0006/30/2023
Manuel MarzupioCBPro Sesto22Italy175,000No Info
Simone PotopLCB, RCBFiorenzuola23Italy200,0006/30/2023
Francesco BenassaiLCBLucchese24Italy200,0006/30/2024

Five players on the initial filter is not too bad. For reference, while there are five U24 players meeting these criteria, there are 24 total players meeting these criteria regardless of age. This also means I don’t need to do too much more filtering to narrow the list, but instead to just keep in the back of my head who might be the top one or two players from this list.

If we include progressive carries in our first-level (passable) filter, the only player who shows up is Simone Potop of Fiorenzuola. Transfermarkt says he’s out injured right now with a “distortion of the ankle”, which sounds incredibly painful. He’s also missed 10 games now with that, so he might be one to have in the back of our head completely instead of the front.

If we add number of passes attempted to the passable filters (excluding progressive carries now), Potop still comes up but is joined by Inter Milan youth product and current Pro Sesto player Manuel Marzupio. That means these two players are the only ones of our initial five players who are used to playing a decent number of passes per match. If we change the minimum z-score from -0.33 to -0.50 for passes only, four of our 5 players stay, with just Olbia’s Gabriele Bellodi, on loan from AC Milan, dropping out. However, Olbia rank 54 of 60 in Serie C for average ball possession (46.8%), so I believe that’s why. These numbers are not adjusted for possession so we will see this a bit I’m sure.

Olbia attempt 318 passes per 90, and Bellodi attempts 34.5 per 90, meaning he might attempt about 10% of Olbia’s passes per match, so it’s not a cause for concern for me. If he moved to a team with more possession, he would still be used to playing a high proportion of his team’s passes. Being a Milan youth player as well (he’s on loan currently) also makes me think he wouldn’t be out of his element in a higher possession side.

Finally, if we increase our thresholds to 0.0 and 0.33 (instead of -0.33 and 0.0), we get the exact same players. So, my list of players is (starting XI on the “dream team” in bold):

  • Stefano Cella (21, right-footed, Virtus Verona – on loan from Cremonese)
  • Gabriele Bellodi (22, right-footed, Olbia – on loan from AC Milan)
  • Manuel Marzupio (22, right-footed, Pro Sesto)
  • Simone Potop (23, right-footed, Fiorenzuola – out of contract soon, but injured)
  • Francesco Benassai (24, left-footed, Lucchese)

(If we exclude Potop from the starting XI because of his current injury, I’d substitute in Cella. Potop appears to be the best of these five players)

Fullbacks – Modern Attacking Fullbacks

Total sample size = 122

Similarly to center backs, there are few defensive metrics we can use to examine fullbacks’ defensive ability. Since fullbacks don’t necessarily need to be good in the air, we’re only really able to use the percentage of defensive duels won. We can also proxy things like positioning and timing with fouls, but that’s not always perfect. That, coupled with most fullbacks today need to be able to contribute effectively in possession and attacks, means I’m going to look for fullbacks with good profiles and performances in metrics related to attacking fullbacks.

I’ll use the same two-step levels as I used for center backs, and this will be constant throughout this whole article. Z-scores for passable/decent = -0.33, and above average = 0.0.

The first-level metrics players need to be at least passable in:

  • Short pass completion %
  • Dribble success %
  • Defensive duel win %

The second-level metrics the players need to be better than average in:

  • Shot assists per 90′
  • Progressive carries per 90′
  • Expected assists (xA) per shot assist

There are five U24 fullbacks meeting all these minimum criteria.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Tommaso BarbieriRB, RWBJuventus Next Gen20Italy600,0006/30/2026
Angelo NdreckaLWB, LBPro Patria21Italy175,0006/30/2024
Davide GrassiniRWB, RBCarrarese22Italy100,0006/30/2023
Vincenzo SilvestroLB, RBMantova24Italy100,0006/30/2023
Emanuele AdamoRWB, LWBCesena24Italy200,0006/30/2024

It is perhaps unsurprising that three of these five players have played the majority of their minutes in a wing back position this season, since full/wing backs playing with three center backs typically have a bit more freedom to take attacking risks or venture higher up the pitch.

Note that Vincenzo Silvestro has played two-thirds of his minutes at left back and one-third at right back, and Emanuele Adamo has played two-third at RWB and one-third at LWB. They appear to be versatile, but of course will play on their natural side if they make the “dream team”.

I did not include any crossing metrics in the initial filters because teams have different methods in the final third. I figured that if a player is able to create more shots than average, it shouldn’t matter exactly how they create those shots. But we can’t deny that a fullback in an attacking system that’s relatively poor at crossing could be a liability. If we add cross completion % to our first-level metrics and require players to be at least decent, Davide Grassini of Carrarese is the only player who drops out.

However, if we exclude cross success rate and instead add number of crosses completed within 20 meters of the goal per 90′ to our second-level (above average) filters, all five initial players remain on the list. So, while Grassini may not have a relatively high cross completion rate (27.7%), he does complete an above average number of crosses to a dangerous area of the pitch (1.5 per 90′). So, that might not be enough to delete him from the initial list but it’s important information to know: he will pepper the opposition box, but is relatively ineffective as a whole. It might be worth looking into if his crosses completely end attacks, or if they create loose-ball situations that might be valuable… that’s something simple metrics like these can’t capture but is important when diving deeper into individual players!

Further, if we take away the short pass completion % criteria, Ismail Achik of Audace Ceringola and Davide Zappella of Virtus Entella show up as well. Achik has actually played as a striker quite a bit this season (particularly recently it appears), which will no doubt change his numbers, especially his short pass completion rate. A few other players show up if we take away a couple other metric criteria, which will always be the case, but taking away too many filters defeats the purpose of this anyway.

Finally, if we change our second-level filter to at least 0.33 standard deviations above the mean, the only players who appear are Angelo Ndrecka of Pro Patria (a former Lazio youth player, and Albanian youth international) and Emanuele Adamo of Cesena. If we also take out the short pass completion % and keep the 0.33 second-level filter, Ismail Achik still shows up, so I’ll add him into the list. Thus, these players will be our starters, and the other three players make the (what will be a very large) bench for the dream team.

  • Tommaso Barbieri (20, RB, Juventus)
  • Angelo Ndrecka (21, LB, Pro Patria)
  • Ismail Achik (22, RWB, Audace Ceringola – out of contract soon)
  • Davide Grassini (22, RB, Carrarese – out of contract soon)
  • Vincenzo Silvestro (24, LB, Mantova – out of contract soon)
  • Emanuele Adamo (24, RWB, Cesena)

Central/Defensive Midfielder – Deep Playmaker

Total sample size (CMs & DMs) = 167

There are many different roles for central and defensive midfielders, but I’m going to select three, a deep playmaker, a ball-progressing player, and an advanced playmaker. For the first two, I’ll include all players who Wyscout has playing most their minutes as a DM or a CM, and for the advanced playmaker, I’ll include CMs and attacking midfielders. Of course, there are more roles, such as a ball-winning midfielder, but these three roles I think are more common throughout teams right now than pure defensive midfielders, so that’s why I’ve chosen them. But, let’s dive into deep playmakers!

Here are my first-level (passable) metrics:

  • Long pass completion %
  • Offensive duel win rate (includes dribbles and things like shielding the ball to retain possession in a challenge)

And the second-level, above average metrics:

  • Short pass completion %
  • Passes to final third per 90′
  • Passes attempted per 90′

With these fairly non-restrictive initial filters, we get 12 players. We’ll of course need to do some more filtering, but I’m happy to have finally gotten a large set since we didn’t get that for CBs or FBs!

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Giovanni CorradiniDMF, RCMFPro Vercelli (Fiorentina)20Italy250,0006/30/2023
Alessandro MercatiDMFCarrarese20Italy300,0006/30/2026
Federico ArtioliDMFPergolettese (Sassuolo)21Italy175,0006/30/2023
Antonio MetlikaDMFSangiuliano City (Sampdoria)21Italy175,0006/30/2023
Giuseppe LeoneDMFSiena21Italy400,0006/30/2026
Enzo BarrenecheaDMF, LDMFJuventus Next Gen21Argentina600,0006/30/2026
Lucas FelippeDMF, RCMFGiugliano22Brazil150,0006/30/2024
Riccardo LadinettiRCMF, DMF, LCMFPontedera22Italy200,0006/30/2023
Andrea GhionRCMF, DMFCatanzaro (Sassuolo)23Italy400,0006/30/2023
Lorenzo LonardiDMF, LCMFVirtus Verona24Italy225,0006/30/2023
Armand RadaDMF, LCMFVirtus Entella24Albania250,0006/30/2024
Linas MėgelaitisDMF, LCMFViterbese24Lithuania300,0006/30/2024

Since we have so many, I’ll add a few filters and share the tables. First, here are the players if we add shot assists & progressive carries to the first-level filters. This will give us players from our initial list that should be good and comfortable at being involved in play a little higher up the pitch.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Alessandro MercatiDMFCarrarese20Italy300,0006/30/2026
Riccardo LadinettiRCMF, DMF, LCMFPontedera22Italy200,0006/30/2023
Andrea GhionRCMF, DMFCatanzaro (Sassuolo)23Italy400,0006/30/2023
Lorenzo LonardiDMF, LCMFVirtus Verona24Italy2250,006/30/2023
Armand RadaDMF, LCMFVirtus Entella24Albania250,0006/30/2024

If we instead focus on the more defensive aspect of the deeper playmaker, and add defensive duel win % and fouls committed per 90′ (reverse coded) to our second-level filters, we get these players below.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Francesco ArtioliDMFPergolettese (Sassuolo)21Italy1750006/30/2023
Antonio MetlikaDMFSangiuliano City (Sampdoria)21Italy1750006/30/2023
Giuseppe LeoneDMFSiena21Italy4000006/30/2026
Enzo BarrenecheaDMF, LDMFJuventus Next Gen21Argentina6000006/30/2026
Lucas FelippeDMF, RCMFGiugliano22Brazil1500006/30/2024
Lorenzo LonardiDMF, LCMFVirtus Verona24Italy2250006/30/2023

Note that I added the shots assists and progressive carries to the first-level, while the defensive aspects to the second-level. This is mainly because we have quite a number of defensive midfielders in this sample, who simply will not have the opportunities to make shot assists, instead having more opportunities for defensive duels and also fouls (which can often be used as a proxy for defensive positioning, aggression, or some combo). Andrea Ghion and Lorenzo Lonardi are the only two players who show up if we add shot assists and progressive carries to the second-level filters.

Right away, Lorenzo Lonardi is the only player in both of the further-filter lists, so he’s likely the best/most rounded of the players from the initial list. Giovanni Corradini and Linas Mėgelaitis are the only players who didn’t make either further filtering list, so they might be easy first cuts. They likely perform decently in a number of areas, but perhaps not above and beyond in a couple key areas we might want. Of course, the initial list is still a great list of players to dive deeper into, but we need a smaller list to add to the “dream team”.

If we add Progressive carries and defensive duel win % to our first-level filters, and then make short pass completion % and passes to the final third more restrictive (at least 0.33 standard deviations above the mean), we can get a sense of the players who are not liabilities when played deep while also being very strong at getting the ball into more dangerous areas to create opportunities for their teammates. Giuseppe Leone, Armand Rada, and Linas Mėgelaitis are the three players who show up, which tells me Leone and Rada might be my top 2 from a general playmaking side, and Mėgelaitis probably is good at getting the ball forward and a little less reliable in defense than most other players here, from a data standpoint.

Now let’s change our filters to look at an even deeper player who is likely a good facilitator of the ball and more enables the team’s possession than anything. First-level is just offensive duel win %. Second-level filters are passes attempted and passes to the final third. Finally, third-level (z-score >= 0.33) filters are short pass completion %, long pass completion %, fouls committed (again, reverse-coded so fewer = higher z-score), and defensive duel win %. The players who then show up are Enzo Barrenechea and Lucas Felippe. So, these players might be great at sitting deep much of the time and instead of playmaking by creating shots or moving the ball into dangerous areas often, they make plays by being a reliable presence earlier in the attacking moves, able to win and retain the ball and pass it to a more creative player.

Add into this that Lorenzo Lonardi is the only player who was in both of our secondary lists, and I think we’ve got 5 players that could play a deep playmaker role. We’ve learned a lot about these players and what they could offer based on slightly different tactical instructions/responsibilities.

  • Giuseppe Leone (21, Siena)
  • Enzo Barrenechea (21, Juventus)
  • Lucas Felippe (22, Giugliano)
  • Lorenzo Lonardi (24, Virtus Verona – out of contract soon)
  • Armand Rada (24, Virtus Entella)

Here are the radars for my starter, Lorenzo Lonardi, and first backup, Lucas Felippe. These radars give a little more insight into metrics that weren’t covered in the filtering criteria.

Central/Defensive Midfielder – Ball Progressing

Total sample size (CMs & DMs) = 167

I’m expecting a number of the players we saw in the deep playmaker section will also rank high here, given we’ve added some progression elements to our playmaker. For the progressing midfielder, the main components of play of course are progressive passes and progressive carries, with some others like passes to the box or final third, as well as dribbling metrics. There are many other areas where a player used for progression could be good at, either higher up in attack or deeper in defense. For this, I’ll mainly focus on the progressive elements themselves, adding some filters if needed.

First-level, passable metrics:

  • Offensive duel win %
  • Short pass completion %

Second-level, above average metrics:

  • Progressive passes per 90′
  • Progressive carries per 90′

That gives us an initial list of four players, three of which we saw above.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Giuseppe LeoneDMFSiena21Italy400,0006/30/2026
Mattia ZennaroRCMF, DMFFeralpiSalò (Genoa)22Italy300,0006/30/2023
Andrea GhionRCMF, DMFCatanzaro (Sassuolo)23Italy400,0006/30/2023
Lorenzo LonardiDMF, LCMFVirtus Verona24Italy225,0006/30/2023

However, this does include players who are above average in both progressive passes and carries, and not all players progress by both. So, let’s up our threshold for them, but include one or the other. First, here’s the players that are at least passable in offensive duel win % and short pass completion %, but also at least 1 full standard deviation above the mean for progressive carries per 90′. Meaning they have a very high number.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Angleo TaliaLCMF, RCMFPotenza (Benevento)20Italy10,0006/30/2023
Mattia ZennaroRCMF, DMFFeralpiSalò (Genoa)22Italy300,0006/30/2023
Andrea GhionRCMF, DMFCatanzaro (Sassuolo)23Italy400,0006/30/2023
Alessio TribuzziLCMF, LWFCrotone24Italy400,0006/30/2025

And here are the players if we switch out progressive passes for carries.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Federico ArtioliDMFPergolettese21Italy175,0006/30/2023
Enzo BarrenecheaDMF, LDMFJuventus Next Gen21Argentina600,0006/30/2026
Riccardo LadinettiRCMF, DMF, LCMFPontedera22Italy200,0006/30/2023
Lorenzo LonardiDMF, LCMFVirtus Verona24Italy225,0006/30/2023

We’ve actually already seen all four of these players before! Not too much of a surprise, as we included things like passes into the final third in the deep playmaker criteria, which can often be progressive passes. So keep these names in mind as interesting players, but perhaps we’ll look for a strong carrier of the ball to pair with our passers in the “dream team”.

In fact, if we look for players who are at least 1 standard deviation above the mean for all of short pass completion %, progressive carries per 90′, and offensive duel win %, just one name shows up: Alessio Tribuzzi. That tells me Tribuzzi is probably very good at carrying the ball while beating or fending off opposing players, and is then tidy in laying the ball off safely to a teammate. Tribuzzi also shows up as the only CM or DM at least 1 standard deviaition above the mean in these metrics regardless of age! And he even records a z-score of at least 1.5 in all these metrics as well.

If we change out first-level filters to at least a z-score of 0.5, and then at least a z-score of 1 for progressive carries, Tribuzzi and Andrea Ghion are the only U24 players who show up. Since we’re mainly looking for a tidy, strong carrier of the ball, I think those players would be our 2 best options. Angelo Talia and Mattia Zennaro seem to progress the ball well, but drop off quickly as you increase the offensive duel win %. To me, a key element of being able to move up the leagues as a ball carrier is being able to fend off or beat opponents when needed, so I will cut them off the “dream team”, however, it seems like they could be players worthy of a deeper look, maybe not necessarily in this particular role!

  • Alessio Tribuzzi (24, Crotone)
  • Andrea Ghion (23, Catanzaro – on loan from Sassuolo)

Central/Attacking Midfielder – Advanced Playmaker

Total sample size (CMs & CAMs) = 124

The final midfielder profile we’re looking into is the advanced playmaker. These players should be able to make plays for their teammates and cause lots of danger with their passes, and it’ll be a bonus if they can take some good shots themselves.

The first-level, passable metrics:

  • Dribble success %

The second-level, above average metrics:

  • Passes to the box per 90′
  • Shot assists per 90′
  • xA per shot assist

Running these filters, we get 8 players. That’s a good base number since we should absolutely up the critera on some metrics.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Manuel AntoniazziLCMFArzignano Valchiampo22Italy175,0006/30/2024
Riccardo LadinettiRCMF, DMF, LCMFPontedera22Italy200,0006/30/2023
Matteo StoppaAMF, CF, LWFVicenza (Sampdoria)22Italy225,0006/30/2023
Alessandro ArenaAMF, RAMF, RWGubbio22Italy600,0006/30/2024
Camillo TavernelliAMF, CF, LWFTriestina (Cittadella)23Italy250,0006/30/2023
Andrea GhionRCMF, DMFCatanzaro23Italy400,0006/30/2023
Giacomo BenedettiAMF, RCMF, CFPontedera24Italy200,0006/30/2023
Alessio TribuzziLCMF, LWFCrotone24Italy400,0006/30/2025

A few of these names have already come up before. Andrea Ghion‘s now come up in the initial search results for all three midfield positions now, and Riccardo Ladinetti came up for the deep and advanced playmaker, and also when we excluded progressive carries in the progression search.

Riccardo Ladinetti and Ghion are the only two players still in the list if we up our second-level filter to be at least a z-score of 0.33, so we should keep that in mind. Ladinetti the only player if we increase to a z-score of 0.5.

If we add non-penalty goals (npxG) per 90′, npxG per shot, and touches in the box per 90′ to our second-level filters (so, focusing on players who are a bit of a creative threat and a threat themselves), we have:

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Manuel AntoniazziLCMFArzignano Valchiampo22Italy175,0006/30/2024
Alessandro ArenaAMF, RAMF, RWGubbio22Italy600,0006/30/2024
Camillo TavernelliAMF, CF, LWFTriestina (Cittadella)23Italy250,0006/30/2023
Giacomo BenedettiAMF, RCMF, CFPontedera24Italy200,0006/30/2023

If, instead of the shooting metrics, we add to the second-level critera: smart passes per 90′ (passes attempting to create a dangerous situation), key passes per 90′ (passes that created a good opportunity but no shot), and the sum of assists + 2nd assists + 3rd assists per 90′, these are the players we get:

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Matteo StoppaAMF, CF, LWFVicenza (Sampdoria)22Italy225,0006/30/2023
Alessandro ArenaAMF, RAMF, RWGubbio22Italy600,0006/30/2024
Andrea GhionRCMF, DMFCatanzaro23Italy400,0006/30/2023
Giacomo BenedettiAMF, RCMF, CFPontedera24Italy200,0006/30/2023

Two players are in both of these lists focusing on more shooting or more playmaking metrics: Alessandro Arena and Giacomo Benedetti. That tells me these may be the two players of the initial list to look into first.

Beyond those two, we have two more players that showed up in the lists prizing more playmaking for others or making their own plays. Matteo Stoppa and Ghion’s wider data profiles (beyond the data filtered here) are both incredible. Here are their radars. Radars aren’t the gospel, but give a great overview into their profile as a player.

Matteo Stoppa in particular, at just 22, is recording some of the highest numbers in many key metrics even compared to 123 other CMs & CAMs with at least 1,500 minutes. He has recorded 8 goals and 5 assists so far. Ghion of course we have seen many times in the midfielder searches in this article, and his radar gives us a good idea why that is. The only area he seems to be lacking in is shooting (green bars), which, given his pretty low number of shots, is probably down to instructions and his role in possibly the best team in Serie C this season, Catanzaro. But it’s something to keep in mind, he may not be comfortable in a role that would require him to shoot often. That’s something only video and live scouting could begin to answer, not basic data.

Manuel Antoniazzi and Camillo Tavernelli are similarly impressive profiles, closer to Stoppa than Ghion as they sppear to be both creative and dangerous in their own right.

Tavernelli’s low pass success rates should not scare you. He rankes 89th percentil for smart passes attempted, so that will naturally bring his short pass % lower (think of how Kevin De Bruyne usually has a relatively low pass completion rate; riskier passes are more frequently cut out).

Finally, here are the two players who made it into both further filtering lists, Alessandro Arena and Giacomo Benedetti.

Arena in particular is essentially off the charts for his 2.27 shot assists per 90′, over 3.8 standard deviations above the mean!

In terms of the “dream team”, I’d place Arena as the starter, with Benedetti right behind him Arena being out of contract in summer 2024 and just 22 right now should really make him an attractive player for a number of Serie B sides, as Gubbio may look to cash in now. Of course, it’s important to watch full games of these players, so you can bet that I’ll be putting on some Gubbio matches very soon.

So, the final pick of players for the advanced playmaker:

  • Alessandro Arena (22, Gubbio)
  • Giacomo Benedetti (24, Pontedera – out of contract soon)
  • Matteo Stoppa (22, Vicenza – on loan from Sampdoria)
  • Manuel Antoniazzi (22, Arzignano Valchiampo)
  • Camillo Tavernelli (23, Triestina – on loan from Cittadella)

Wingers – Traditional and/or Inverted

Total sample size (900 minutes, not 1,500) = 66

I’m going to look for two winger roles, a more traditional one involved in ball progression, crossing, and maybe some playmaking, and an inverted one where creativity and shooting threat is much more important than say, progression and crossing.

Not that I am lowering the minutes from 1,500 to 900, because there are apparently just 32 who have played at least 1,500 minutes (which is likely because players have played as wingers and perhaps strikers or attacking midfielders, and Wyscout calls a player’s “main” position in a season the position they have the most minutes in). There are 66 mainly wingers with at least 900 minutes played, which is a better sample size to work with. It’s a bummer to change the minimum minutes, but oh well.


We’ll begin with traditional wingers. These might be shorter sections given the low sample size, so 2 players might be it, we’ll see!

First-level, passable metrics:

  • Progressive carries per 90′
  • Dribble success rate

Second-level, above average metrics:

  • Accelerations per 90′ (defined by Wyscout as sudden accelerations with the ball)
  • Crosses completed within 20m of the goal per 90′
  • Cross completion %

We get three players with these initial filters:

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Gregorio MorachioliLWF, LWRenate (transferred to Bari in January)22Italy150,0006/30/2026
Claudiu MicovschiRW, LWB, RWFFidelis Andria (Avellino)23Romania150,0006/30/2024
Mattia MorelloLWF, LWFiorenzuola23Italy250,0006/30/2024

One of these players is a former Serie C player, but should be included in the sample since he layed lots of minutes this season. Gregorio Morachioli moved to Bari in the Winter window, so obviously can’t be included in the Dream Team since he’s playing in Serie B now. He obviously impressed Bari enough in his 1.5 years with Renate to earn a move.

Of the two remaining players, Mattia Morello looks to be by far the better player in most aspects. He is also much more rounded, which makes sense too since he is a right-footed left winger who looks to also cut inside (I did not filter on footedness so we were bound to get someone who is just a great winger in all aspects!) Morello has played a few times on the right this season, so while he probably could play as a traditional winger, he would likely be wasted in that role.

Overall, given the small sample of players who have mainly played on the wing to begin with, and the relatively fewer traditional wingers in the game now, I think it’s best to keep Claudiu Micovschi in mind, but move on to the inverted winger filters.


First-level, passable metrics:

  • Touches in the box per 90′
  • Passes to the box per 90′
  • Dribble success %

Second-level, above average metrics:

  • Shots per 90′
  • Shot assists per 90′

We get six players with these filters.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Giuseppe GuadagniRW, CFRecanatese (Avellino)21Italy100,0006/30/2024
Luca LombardiRWFAncona21Italy100,0006/30/2024
Giovanni BruzzanitiRW, RWF, LWFLucchese (Crotone)22Italy175,0006/30/2023
Ludovico D’OrazioLW, LWF, CFMantova (SPAL)23Italy250,0006/30/2024
Aristidi KolajLWF, AMF, LAMFPescara23Italy400,0006/30/2025
Michael LiguoriRWF, AMF, RWPadova24Italy300,0006/30/2025

If we also add npxG and xA per 90′ to our second-level filter, we’re left with just Ludovico D’Orazio and Michael Liguori. If we use npxG per shot and xA per shot assist instead, we’re left with just Liguori, so the Padova man might be our main man to look at. We can also find other players like Lucchese’s Andrea Rizzo Pinna and Avellino’s Raffaele Russo if we ignore the touches and passes in the box, but increase first- and second-level z-scores to 0 and 0.33 respectively. They are joined by Ludovico D’Orazio, and it tells me they may not be heavily involved in the box, but are still dangerous wingers around the box.

If we use all five of our main filters, but require minimum z-scores of 0 for each, Luca Lombardi (of Ancona, there are two U24 Luca Lombardi right wingers) and Aristidi Kolaj are the only players who show up.

Here are a couple radars from our two main lpayers, Liguori and D’Orazio.

I think given what we’ve seen, the players I’d personally focus on first from these names would be:

  • Ludovico D’Orazio (23, right-footed LW, Mantova – on loan from SPAL)
  • Michael Liguori (24, left-footed RW, Padova)
  • Luca Lombardi (21, left-footed RW, Ancona)
  • Mattia Morello (23, right-footed LW, Fiorenzuola)
  • Aristidi Kolaj (23, right-footed LW, Pescara)


Total sample (back up to 1,500 minutes) = 103

There are many roles a striker can play. Not all of them involve bags of goals, but it’ll be difficult to search for an Olivier-Giroud-World-Cup-2018-like player. So I will choose pretty standard metrics for the initial filters, possibly narrowing on things like link-up play or more heavily weight poaching metrics if needed.

First-level, passable metrics:

  • npxG per 90′
  • Touches in the box per 90′

Second-level, above average metrics:

  • Goal conversion rate
  • npxG per shot

We get five players with these filters.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Stiven ShpendiCF, AMFCesena19Italy300,0006/30/2025
Fabio AbiusoCFPergolettese (Modena)20Italy125,0006/30/2024
Emanuele PecorinoCFJuventus Next Gen21Italy250,0006/30/2025
Jacopo PellegriniCFReggiana (Sassuolo)22Italy200,0006/30/2023
Edgaras DubickasCFPordenone (Pisa)24Lithuania200,0006/30/2023

Stiven Shpendi has scored 11 goals this season, ranking him joint-16th for all players in Serie C, and joint-7th in Girone B, the group that Cesena play in. He’s the youngest player by a few years with at least 10 goals. Below is his shot map this season.

Shpendi has also scored a brace in three games this season, including back-to-back braces in 3 days away to Pontedera and Recanatese. At just 19, his data does look really good from a pure shooting point of view, but he also appears to be able to progress the ball very well too. Certinaly a player to dive deeper into. He’s also scored 20% of Cesena’s total Serie C goals, despite playing just over 50% of the minutes so far! That, to me, is an incredible stat point.

If we add shot assists per 90′ to the first-level, passable metric filters, only Stiven Shpendi and Edgaras Dubickas appear, showing us that the other three players in our initial list are likely pure shooters and not either involved in creating shots for teammates, or are not good at it. We can’t tell which one it is without knowing the players and their teams better.

Jacopo Pellegrini appears to be the player with the best shooting metrics behind Shpendi, while he’s a bit below average in all creative aspects but looks strong on the ball while carrying or dribbling. Dubickas looks to be very balanced in all metrics, but is just above average average in most, while not standing out in any in particular.

Let’s look for another type of striker, one that’s much more creative than maybe a goal threat themselves. We’ll see if there are any players with a z-score of at least 0.33 in these metrics:

  • Shot assists per 90′
  • Progressive carries per 90′
  • Passes to the box per 90′
  • Dribble success rate
PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Francesco RuoccoCF, LW, AMFTorres21Italy200,0006/30/2023
Michele GuidaCF, AMFTurris (Taranto)24Italy225,0006/30/2024

Torres and Turris are both in tight relegation battles in their groups, so it’s no surprise that Francesco Ruocco and Michele Guida might not be finding the back of the net very often. They are both very strong progressive strikers and are good at creating shots for others as well, so they might be able to increase their own goal production in a team that can provide them better service (which we’ll need to watch videos of to know though!).

Overall, We’ve got two strikers who are performing very well while shooting, and two who aren’t given as many options in front of goal but appear to be quality options for a deeper-lying striker. There’s no doubt who I’d choose as my starter on the “dream team!”

  • Stiven Shpendi (19, Cesena)
  • Francesco Ruocco (21, Torres – out of contract soon)
  • Jacopo Pellegrini (22, Reggiana – on loand from Sassuolo)
  • Michele Guida (24, Turris – on loan from Taranto)


Keepers are difficult to really hone in on with data, as there are many factors that impact most metrics we have available. Further, Wyscout’s post-shot expected goal metric (i.e. the probability a shot goes in based on the placement of the shot, goalkeeper, speed of the shot, etc.) is not necessarily the best.

For these players, I’m using 900 minutes as my threshold, and looking at things like prevented goals (goals conceded vs post-shot xG faced), both total and per 90′, and total goals conceded. Actually, the four players I’m adding to my dream team all have a prevented goals per 90′ z-score of at least 2.

PlayerPositionTeamAgeNationMarket valueContract expires
Semuel PizzignaccoGKFeralpiSalò21Italy325,0006/30/2025
Alessandro SianoGKPontedera21Italy150,0006/30/2023
Davide BarosiGKJuve Stabia22Italy350,0006/30/2024
Alessandro GiacomelGKVirtus Verona24Italy200,0006/30/2023

Final Thoughts

Overall, with 60 teams in Serie C, we are bound to find a number of really interesting young players. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and only searches on several key metrics for a few roles with the joint goal of finding players as well as building an actual team for fun.

Of all the players I’ve learned and talked about here, I think I am most excited to dive into Stiven Shpendi, Alessandro Arena, Matteo Stoppa, Simone Potop, Angelo Ndrecka, and Semuel Pizzignacco. All players here seem interesting, but those are the 7 who really struck me (I could have named more though of course!)

Below are all of the players I’ve picked out in this article, set up in their rough positions. I hope you’re as excited as I am to watch these players and see how they continue to develop! Serie C’s official motto is il calcio che fa bene al paese (soccer that’s good for the country), and there are definitely some talented, promising young players in Italy’s third division that should be nothing but good for the country.

Header image via Lega Pro Twitter

One thought on “Data Scouting Serie C for U24 Players: All Positions

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