Former Arsenal prospect Stephy Mavididi became the latest England youth international to play in one of Europe’s major leagues outside the Premier League as he was handed his Juventus debut on Saturday.
Mavididi joined Juventus from Arsenal in the summer, despite never making a senior appearance for the Gunners, and came on as a substitute in the Italian giants’ 2-1 defeat at SPAL.
We’ve brought you the lowdown on the 20-year-old Arsenal could regret allowing to leave north London.
Born in Derby, Mavididi has represented England from Under-17 to Under-20 level but missed out on the latter’s squad which went on to win the World Cup in 2017.
The striker, who can also operate out wide, turned pro with the Gunners in 2015, and while he struggled to break into the club’s first team, he was able to gain experience of senior football with a trio of loan moves.
Mavididi was first sent on loan to Charlton for the second half of the 2016-17 season, making five appearances in League One before a hamstring injury cut short the move.
“He’s been in tears which is sickening because he’s been tremendous for us and we wish him all the best,” Charlton boss Karl Robinson said at the time. “He’s been a credit to his family and to Arsenal FC and we’d love to have him back next year.”
The youngster had still shown enough promise in such a short space of time to step up to the Championship by joining Preston on loan for the following season.
Yet as Preston enjoyed a successful season under Alex Neil, Mavididi found it difficult to break into their starting 11, making 10 appearances in the Championship over the first half of the campaign as he continued to await his first goal in senior football.
As a result, the forward’s loan was again cut short, allowing him to rejoin Charlton, where he made an instant impression, scoring the winner against Oldham on his second debut for the club.
He followed that up with a goal and assist in a 3-1 victory against Walsall but another hamstring injury curtailed his progress before he returned for the run-in and the Addicks’ narrow play-off semi-final defeat to Shrewbury.
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While his second spell at Charlton offered plenty of encouragement, nobody expected Juventus to come calling in the summer.
Mavididi still had two years left on his Arsenal contract when the offer from Juve arrived, and the Gunners were willing to allow the attacker to depart.
Eddie Nketiah, a year Mavididi’s junior, had already made an impact for Arsenal’s first team, and so the opportunity appeared to be in the best interest of all parties.
Mavididi was signed to link up with Juve’s Under-23 team, which competes in Italy’s Serie C, and he has scored seven times at that level this term.
While Juve are being cautious with his development, with plenty of illustrious names ahead of him in the pecking order, but Mavididi still found himself called up to the senior squad by Max Allegri ahead of this weekend’s game with SPAL.
Allegri rotated his side ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, and Mavididi was handed a debut from the bench, coming on with the score still 1-1 for the last 20 minutes, only for SPAL to snatch victory by scoring shortly after his introduction.
“He’ll bring pace and a directness from either a wider area or a central nine. I think he’s a perfect fit for us, certainly in terms of attributes that we like to have in the team.” – Alex Neil
“He is such a talented player and we only got to see a glimpse of what he could do last time he was here. I’ve watched him a lot since he’s come back from injury and he is a phenomenal talent.” – Karl Robinson
“We reacted well in the second half, but couldn’t get the game back on track. Paolo Gozzi had a good game, including after Andrea Barzagli went off. Grigoris Kastanos was struggling a little in the role of mezzala, while Hans Nicolussi and Stephy Mavididi did well.” – Max Allegri, via Sky Italia
“The motivation to play with one of my idols (Cristiano Ronaldo), one of the greatest ever. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to train with him. It’s the mentality, how he approaches things, how professional he is, how he manages his body. Watching him, I just try and take in as much as I can from him.” – Stephy Mavididi, via The Independent