21st October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Having spent the best part of 10 years with his boyhood club, Lech Poznan, highly talented starlet, Karol Linetty, knew it was time to test himself in one of Europe’s big five leagues.
Although the 21-year-old had attracted interest from the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Club Brugge, Sampdoria were the ones who jumped in first to sign the Polish international. Moving to a club like Samp was without doubt a logical choice for his development, for had he gone to a bigger club, he knew his playing time would’ve been dramatically effected.
Poznan vice president, Piotr Rutkowski, was quick to wish Linetty all the best for the future, whilst also noting what a tremendous talent he’s grown into, saying: “We are proud that our pupil has found favor in the eyes of many Western clubs. Karol is a professional in every way, well aware of this at what stage of his career is now and where he wants to be in a few years. They trust him also at Sampdoria by offering such a long contract.”
It was terrific to see the youngster then thank his former club for everything they’ve done for him upon the finalisation of his departure.
Paying just €3.2 million for Linetty, who made his professional debut for Poznan at just 17 and his full international debut at 19, was a really astute piece of business by the Blucerchiati, especially when you consider he already had over 100 senior appearances under his belt at the time of him agreeing his five-year contract.
With that in mind, it’s hardly been surprising that the tough midfielder has settled in so smoothly to life in Serie A. The fact he’s played every minute of every one of Sampdoria’s eight league matches suitably demonstrates what a fantastic start he’s made. Indeed, the way he’s stepped up and looked right at home adjusting to the higher level to become an integral member of Marco Giampaolo’s squad has been remarkable.
“Until a few months ago, I was in Poland and dreamed of a big League to grow in,” he told Il Secolo XIX. “Now, not only am I in Serie A and at a great club like Sampdoria, but I’m playing well. It’s a dream.”
He then had this to say in relation to his Swiss manager, explaining: “I feel great [under him]. Even though there’s a language problem with him, he can be understood. You can see that he’s a coach who has clear ideas.”
In Sampdoria’s 1-1 draw with Pescara at the weekend, Linetty continued his incredible run of form by putting in another shift littered with upside. Deployed in his left sided central midfield role, within Giampaolo’s 4-4-2 diamond formation, his energy, aggression and contribution in both phases of the game saw him have a profound impact.
When his side had possession, the tigerish enforcer used his slick combination play to link up with the likes of Ricky Alvarez, Lucas Torreira and Edgar Barrreto in close proximity to help his team progress upfield into the final third. With Giampaolo’s diamond shape geared to creating triangles all over the pitch for his players to combine with one another and shift the opposition’s defensive shape, Linetty certainly acted as a fine exponent of his manager’s philosophy.
Moreover, his movement, that regularly saw him drift into the half spaces on the left provided him with a terrific platform to use his intelligent vision and concise decision making capacity to open up the field and create openings with his inventive range of passing.
While defensively his exertions warranted equal amounts of praise, where he did a splendid job of nullifying the Pescara’s gifted Benfica loanee, Bryan Cristante. In what was a fascinating subplot that pitted two very talented youngsters together, Linetty’s uncompromising approach to tackling, marking and disrupting his adversary saw him comfortably overpower Cristante to win their battle.
Despite Samp not being able to claim all three points against a shorthanded Pescara, Linetty’s showing unquestionably enhanced his already burgeoning reputation.
To gain an additional indication of how well he’s started the campaign, look no further than his impressive statistics. By the numbers, Linetty ranks equal fourth in Serie A for most tackles per game (with 3.5) and comes in at joint seventeenth for chances created (with 2 pg), a particularly notable number for a player in his position. In addition, his bullish, dogged approach to winning back possession has seen him give away the ninth most fouls in the league (on 2.4 pg). His manager wouldn’t necessarily be displeased with his, however, for he’d be loving the sheer dedication and intent of his young charge in this facet.
Combative, uncompromising yet very intelligent, the Sampdoria hierarchy would be sitting back feeling a great deal of satisfaction about their new man, who’s definitely been one of the signings of the season in Italy.
Getting a player for such a minimal fee, and one that’s essentially bereft of any real weaknesses has served as another testament to the club’s fantastic scouting ability to keep on finding value in Europe’s lesser known leagues.
At just 21, and with still a massive scope for improvement, expect the man who idolises Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Luka Modric and Andres Iniesta to become an incredible footballer, sooner rather than later.
Poland superstar, Robert Lewandowski, has already touted him as a future leader of the national team, so it would appear the sky really is the limit for this midfield maestro.
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