Moise Kean channelling Pippo Inzaghi to show his clutch credentials for Juve
The final weekend of February 2000 was an important one for Juventus, with Pippo Inzaghi’s winner against Roma keeping the Bianconeri top of Serie A. More importantly, though, it was when Moise Kean was born.
When Kean came into this world, current Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini was just months away from his professional debut, while vice-captain Andrea Barzagli was already in his second season in the lower leagues.
The teenage striker was born into a very different footballing world from that which many of his team-mates entered, and it may be this which has helped him play with no fear for club and country despite being nearly a year away from his 20th birthday.
Kean’s late winner for Juve against AC Milan at the weekend means he has now scored in five straight games for club and country, having opened his Italy account in the victory over Finland in March.
The mere prospect of pulling on the Juventus shirt can be intimidating for some, but the manner and importance of his strikes so far show he’s not one to let a piece of fabric stand in the way of achieving his goals.
And Kean’s effort against Milan was such a clinical piece of movement and finishing that one wonders whether footage of Inzaghi’s goal was being shown in the delivery room as he was born.
The scene or the opposition are no obstacle for him; he’s able to shut out everything else to retain the sole focus of his own job without worrying about everything else going on around him.
While lesser strikers might freeze or overthink things in this sort of situation, Kean puts away the chance as if he’s just enjoying a kickabout in the park. Those tens of thousands of fans are invisible to him in the moment between first touch and finish, but they come into full focus when he brings his surroundings into a celebration where it’s impossible to get the idea he doesn’t know where he is.
While the poacher’s finishes have been common from Kean, he has already shown he has more to his game.
Take his second goal against Udinese, a game in which he made his first league start of the season with Cristiano Ronaldo rested ahead of the Champions League victory over Atlético Madrid.
Having already put Juve ahead, he doubled his and his club’s tally with a sneaky finish which caught Juan Musso entirely by surprise.
Musso, who had already been embarrassed once this season when Mauro Icardi beat him with a Panenka, is not even setting himself, but rather setting himself to set himself, when the shot comes in.
In such a situation, there’s not a lot you can do apart from swear and maybe cling on to the moment to say you were there when Moise Kean announced himself. No one needs to know you were only there because you were the goalkeeper he beat.
For all of Juventus’ dominance of Italian football in recent years, they have tended to get results with one of the older and more experienced squads in elite European football.
Manager Max Allegri twice named teams with an average age of more than 31 during the run to the 2017 Champions League final, while the XI against Young Boys this season was the oldest named by any club still in the competition.
Kean is the only teenager to play for the first team in either of the last two seasons, but there should be no question about his ability to justify his place in the team.
The idea that “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough” can sometimes feel as though it has been flipped when Juventus are involved, with support for veterans which can verge on oversentimentality, but those watching from the sidelines will look at the manner in which Kean converts his chances and see him as no less of a Juve player than those old enough to be his father.
The 19-year-old has averaged a goal every 66 minutes for club and country this season, including two winners in his last three games to ensure Juve are within touching distance of the title with seven games to spare. And he’s just getting started.