In this the sixth edition of Kick360’s ‘Breakthrough Stars’ series as we continue the examination of each A-league side’s starlets to see which player has the chance to establish themselves in the senior squad ahead of the new season.
The new season promises to be full of exciting talent and that proves to motivate young stars to try and break into the side. While it’s a hard journey each season brings a few who break the mold and cement themselves as their sides favourites.
This week: Melbourne Victory
Last season proved woeful for Melbourne Victory as they crawled into last place on the table. It was poor across the pitch as the side conceded the league high 60 goals and scored just 31; the league’s third lowest output.
For a side used to success it was hard to watch for the fans and the club has responded, bringing in proven A-league coach Tony Popovic to try and get the side back into the top six.
With a wealth of defensive signings being brought in to stabilise the back end of the pitch Victory must now turn further up the field if they truly want to address the problems that plagued them last season.
Registering 31 strikes from an xG of 32.17 shows that much of the dilemma didn’t come expressly from their goalscorers, rather that Victory lacked a creative force able to deliver the ball into dangerous positions for the front men.
Generating dangerous situations in the opposition third isn’t an easy task and the few offensive signings made can’t be expected to be the only output.
As a result of this the chance opens for a youth squad player to make the step up into the depth role to provide the extra edge to a Victory squad struggling for creativity.
Victory’s breakout star: Gianluca Iannucci
20-year-old Gianluca Iannucci could be the player to make the step up into the first team, providing depth and a creative edge for the struggling side.
Capable of playing in attack midfield or on the wings, Iannucci could be a solid option off the bench capable of unlocking a tired defence.
The youngster is hardly an unknown quantity to Victory fans, having debuted for the club against Beijing Guoan FC in 2020, scoring a deflected shot from distance soon after entering the fray.
This shot and goal should be worthy of excitement for fans of the Victory, demonstrating an immense self-confidence in his abilities that would only be solidified from successful efforts. In a side that often seemed devoid of confidence, a player with that belief is always desirable.
This confidence has been evidenced from youth level showings, including a rabona assist en route to a seven-goal trouncing of Doveton. This showing of confidence is pivotal in attack and proves that Iannucci has an abundance of belief in his abilities to create opportunities.
The last two seasons in the NPL Victoria have proven frustrating for the youngster, being influenced in a stop-start manner due to Covid as well as missing a few rounds through illness, Iannucci wasn’t able to make quite the impact he would have liked.
With a brief cameo in the A-league already under his belt Iannuci will hope this upcoming season will provide him with the chance to prove himself at the top level under coach Tony Popovic.
So can Iannucci help Victory get back to the six?
Following the lows of last season, Victory will be desperate for creativity to help their strikers thrive in front of goal.
When considering this Victory will need the depth and Iannucci’s versatility works in his favour as he can create from anywhere in the final third.
His confidence will only continue to grow as trust is shown in him and as such, the youngster could be set to light up the club this season and assist them in their push back into finals contention.