Patience is a virtue and in the case of Federico Bonazzoli that is more than true. I started my tenure at Sampdoria in the summer of 2016 right after the start of pre-season and Bonazzoli had spent the season at Virtus Lanciano bagging 22 goals, 3 assists and a solid 7.05 average in 38 Serie B games. Pretty promising stuff for an 18-year old product of Internazionale who was signed with 4.5m in February of 2015.
Bonazzoli made his Serie A debut as the second youngest player in Serie A (17 days older than Massimo Pellegrini) in the age of 16 against Chievo Verona. His U21 debut was the 1-0 loss to Denmark on 17th of November 2014 and he was the youngest player to make his debut during that time. He eventually played 9 times for Nerazzurri before switching on to Sampdoria in the summer of 2015 having played rest of the season with Inter on loan.
When I was assessing my team at the start of July in 2016 his impressive stats from the previous season in Serie B caught my eye and I really needed to sit down to think about how we should proceed with this up and coming striker in my team.
Already fielding quite an amount of proven strikers in my ranks and him playing a cracking season in Serie B, there was no other plausible option but to loan him to a first tier league somewhere in Europe where he could get first team minutes and would further continue his development as a Serie A striker for the future. He was passed out as available for loan and also offered to clubs that might have been interested in his services as a first team regular. Eventually, one team was singled out from the rest and Bonazzoli backed his bags and moved to Lower-Normandy to play for SM Caen. He did make steady progress during 2016/17 season in France. Posting out 12 goals, 1 assist and 7.01 average in 33 games and was projected to enter the first team in the coming season of 2017/18.
If you have followed this series you know that one of my issues last season was the lack of production with my strikers. Most likely the reason was my tactical shortcomings and my strikers injuring themselves in turns. Also, some of my strikers failed to produce the moment of the occasion. With being quite thin at the start of pre-season, Milik being injured and Muriel on his way out of the team I really thought that this would be the time for Bonazzoli to show what he had learned during his time on loan.
Bonazzoli saw second half action during the pre-season and posted promising 7.07 average on six games scoring two goals in those appearances. Promising in a sense that the plan was for him to be back up for Milik or Éder. This however changed at the start of the season. Milik injured and the team not responding well to my tactical scheme. Bonazolli got his chance with the presentation of GenoaBlast tactic. Acting as the main spearhead to complete the offering from midfield and wings Bonazzoli responded with in devastating fashion. Getting his first goal of the season against Atalanta he has showed no signs of letting his foot rest off from the gas pedal. Scoring three goals in his next two games he was adamant for his place in the starting striker position.
On the further development of my GenoaBlast(which I hopefully remember to cover here within this season), we saw Bonazzoli lining up with Éder in my two striker setup. Bonazzoli slotting up as a CF and Éder as F9. These two seemed to find each other seamlessly. He scored against his former team Internazionale on 20th of September and demolished Wolfsburg with a hat trick on a home game in UCL. He was injured in the U21 international match against Faroe Islands scoring twice before that and was sidelined for 3 weeks due to that injury. He came back to UCL bout with FC Barcelona to suffer a 0-3 loss.
While being comfortable with the two striker setup Bonazzoli is showing tremendous presence in the penalty box while being the sole striker in the team. In 8 games since his return to the side, he has scored seven goals and is now leading Serie A scoring with 11 goals in 11 games he has played.
Bonazzoli was awarded a new contract on the 9th of November 2017 which is keeping him in Sampdoria until 2022. While enjoying a substantial pay rise his contract also included a 60m release clause to state our eagerness to keep him here until 2022.
I have to say that the plan we had for Bonazzoli ever since I took over Sampdoria has worked almost perfectly. And giving him a challenge measured to his skills has really paid off during the time he has been under my helm. Looking at his current form here I can state that patience is truly a virtue.