Following Germán Pezzella’s hamstring injury while in training with Argentina, Stefano Pioli has announced that Federico Chiesa will serve as the team captain until the defender is healthy again. In a statement to reporters at Viareggio, where he’s spent the week with other Serie A coaches at the annual summit/awards ceremony/possible necromantic ritual, the Viola mister confirmed that, yes, it would be a 20-year-old leading his team against Bologna.
Fede will be the youngest captain in the league so far this season; the next youngest is 21-year-old Nicolò Barella of Cagliari. While thought that Cristiano Biraghi or Jordan Veretout would be the most logical candidates to fill in due to their importance to the club, their leadership , and their experience, it seems that Pioli has gone for the “best player is captain” policy instead.
It could also be a misguided attempt to convince Chiesa to stick around next season, which would be so dumb. These tricks—handing your young star the armband to prove how important he is to the club—never work. Frankly, I think these moves could have an opposite effect, which is to emphasize to a kid that they’re at the top of the food chain and have to carry the full load without help. Number 25 already knows that, having lived such a scenario for the past season and change. Making him captain doesn’t tell him anything he doesn’t know.
There’s also the matter of Fede’s on-pitch behavior of late, which has occasionally strayed awfully close to petulant as he harangues his teammates to make a different run or pass. While he’s frequently been justified in his criticism, he’s also been plainly in the wrong on a few occasions, and big timing your colleagues in front of everyone isn’t usually a great leadership quality. Finally, let’s say again that Chiesa is just 20 years old. The last thing he needs to do is shoulder more responsibility. Let the kid play, and let someone else handle the rest.
All this is to say that we really, really hope that Pezzella is healthy for Juventus for any number of reasons.