Michael Kayode, future Italian starting right-back. Arrival = announced.

Arsenal and Tottenham are falling over themselves to sign the Tuscan Cafu

Fiorentina’s breakout star of 2023-24 has just scored his first Serie A goal in a crucial six-pointer against Lazio, but with Arsenal, Tottenham, and Inter circling like sharks, Michael Kayode may not be in Florence much longer.

Kayode is, according to the internet, 5’10”, but he cuts a much taller figure. A right-back who strides up and down the right flank with reaching limbs, he seems to tower over opposition wingers.

It’s a trick of the mind. He may be the best part of a foot shorter than Big Dan Burn, but the teenager’s potential ceiling is higher than Snoop Dogg at a Willie Nelson concert.

He’s a skilful dribbler, preferring body feints and drops of the shoulder to stepovers and showboating. He’s very quick, very strong, he shields the ball brilliantly, and he drives his team up the pitch.

Kayode didn’t just jump straight from academy football into the public consciousness, though. He did it the hard way. He put the hard years in, not knowing if he’d ever make it. And that makes his rise all the more remarkable.

Michael was born almost equidistant from Turin and Milan, and came through the youth system of the Old Lady (perhaps one of the most awful sentences we’ve ever written).

When Juventus failed to see his potential, Kayode f*cked off to Gozzano. The Italian for what you’re thinking is, dove cazzo è quello? — Where the f*ck is that? Good question.

Gozzano is in Piedmont, not a million miles from Turin, and they were in Serie D.

The Italian football pyramid is structured a little differently from England’s, in that only the top two divisions aren’t split up by region. Don’t come for us, please, Italians—we love you—but Serie D is therefore probably the equivalent of non-league football on these shores.

Making the move from Juventus’s youth academy to the harsh realities of Serie D could make or break a player—more often than not, the latter—but Kayode wasn’t for breaking.

Italy’s new starboy spent two years in Gozzano’s youth team before breaking into the senior team and playing a full season of Serie D football.

Kayode was sixteen at the time, so he may not have had actual hairs on his chest at this point, but a season at that level, at such a tender age, will put metaphorical follicles on there permanently.

He came through his season in the fourth tier with flying colours and somebody in Florence was smart enough to bring him straight into their youth system. This season, still only 19, Kayode made his Serie A debut and has turned heads right at the very top of the game.

His emphatic goal against Lazio helped to slide La Viola into a Roman sandwich, seventh in Serie A, between the two tenants of Lo Stadio Olimpico, and might just be the match that burns a thousand trees between him and greatness.

Our guy won the U-19 Euros with Italy, but The senior team will surely act quickly to call him up before Nigeria—whom Kayode qualifies for through his parents—come knocking.

The race for his signature at club level is on, and Europe’s best all want to win.

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