Italian Under-21 international Simone Scuffet has reinstated his role as first-choice goalkeeper at Udinese with a string of notable performances.
Scuffet was predicted to develop into one of the greatest goalkeepers in Italy when he emerged from the youth ranks at 17 years of age to make 18 appearances during the 2013/14 season.
His performances cited comparisons to 2006 World Cup winner and Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon. But he’s been unable to fulfil his potential, after being demoted to second-choice goalkeeper behind Greek international Orestis Karnezis.
Karnezis enjoyed three fruitful seasons with Udinese completing 110 appearances. Meanwhile, Scuffet lied demoralized in his shadow with a sense of failure creeping into his mind. He spent the 2015/16 season on loan at Como Corno in Serie B, but the experience had a negative impact on him with Como succumbing to relegation to the third tier.
The 22-year-old believed it was the prime opportunity to reclaim his rightful position as first-choice goalkeeper at the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign. Karnezis had just been loaned to English Premier League club Watford for the entire season, but Udinese opted to bring in veteran goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri during the 2017 summer transfer window.
Udinese originally started out promisingly at the beginning of the campaign with ten wins from their opening 23 league fixtures. However, The Little Zebras lost 11 successive Serie A fixtures, went through three different managers and narrowly avoided relegation.
Something needed to change and it needed to change quickly. Udinese appointed nomadic Spaniard Julio Velazquez as the new head coach and he immediately promoted Scuffet into the starting line-up.
Their form has scarcely improved under the tutelage of Velazquez but Scuffet is the most notable positive from a concerning start to the new season.
What Lies in the Future for Simon Scuffet?
After breaking into the first team at such a tender age, Scuffet has had to overcome adversity in the years following his breakthrough. He’ll either crumble under the pressure to prove himself, or flourish at the prospect of the challenge ahead of him.
Italy has been blessed with some of the greatest goalkeepers in history, including most notably, Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Zoff, Walter Zenga and Angelo Peruzzi. Although he’s unlikely to ever reach the heights of the aforementioned, Scuffet now has the platform to showcase his ability and potentially challenge Salvatore Sirigu, Mattia Perin and Alessio Cragno for a place in the Italian National Team squad.
The most notable aspect of Scuffet’s game is undeniably his shot stopping capabilities. He was able to prevent Juventus from sweeping Udinese away during their clash against the defending champions on Saturday and produced a couple of show-stopping saves in victories over Sampdoria and Chievo earlier in the season.
Despite his promise, Scuffet is evidently far from the finished product. He is vulnerable at collecting the ball from crosses and this proved costly when he spilled a low cross into the feet of Parma midfielder Antonio Barilla to convert from unmissable range.
Roberto Mancini has decided not to select Simone Scuffet in Italy’s latest squad to face Ukraine and Poland. Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno has been preferred to the Udinese shot-stopper, but Scuffet will be keen to press for a place for the European Championships in two years.
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