22.08.2015 18:30 - in: Serie A S

    Three key men for Udinese

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    Sunday’s visitors have a strong track-record of bringing the best out of talented youth. Juventus.com takes a look at three Udinese players to watch out for tomorrow evening and the season ahead

    Under the ownership of the Pozzo family, Udinese has become renowned for its sustainability and profitability as a club, successfully developing several young stars of the modern game in the process.

    While the evergreen Antonio Di Natale continues to provide the principle goal threat in the final third, the Zebrette have many other interesting options among their ranks as Juventus.com discovers.

    Silvan Widmer, 22, Right-back

    The modern game favours versatile full-backs, capable of playing in a back four or on the wings of a five-man midfield. Cue Silvan Widmer, who has proved a success in a variety of right-sided roles for Udinese. Gifted with pace, strength, good technique and tactical awareness, the Swiss rose through the ranks of hometown club Aarau, whom he helped to promotion into the Swiss Super League in 2013. His 11 goals and six assists in two seasons, an impressive tally for any full-back, quickly caught the attentions of several European clubs, with Granada quickest to his signature that summer. The Spanish side, also owned by the Pozzo family, immediately loaned him to Udinese, where he would go on to blossom and earn a permanent move a year later.

    Initially an understudy to Dusan Basta, the 22-year-old has capitalised on the Serb’s departure to Lazio last year to become a mainstay at the Stadio Friuli. Under the stewardship of Andrea Stramaccioni, Widmer built a reputation as a marauding wing-back, clinical in the final third, having amassed an impressive seven assists, while twice finding the net himself in 2014/15. Combined with his defensive strengths, epitomised by an ability to intercept opposition balls forward, Widmer earned his debut for Switzerland’s first team in October last year, substituting Juventus’ very own Swiss Express, Stephan Lichtsteiner, in a 4-0 win over San Marino. 

    Ali Adnan, 21, Left-back

    While Widmer runs the rule on the right side of the defence, Udinese have bolstered their left flank this summer with the arrival of Iraqi international Ali Adnan from Turkish Super Lig outfit Caykur Rizespor. 

    After plying his trade at hometown club Baghdad FC, the full-back moved to the Black Sea-based outfit in 2013 the same summer it had achieved promotion to Turkey’s top division. Adnan proved a pivotal player in Rizespor’s late flourish to the 2013/14 season, in which he registered three goals and an impressive nine assists. Although the side struggled to replicate the same form last year, the 21-year-old continued to impose himself on games, his 6ft frame, speed and composure on the ball, making him a handful for opposition defences. Having impressed at the Under-20 World Cup in 2013, Adnan quickly held down a starting berth in Iraq’s first team, where he has already amassed 24 caps.

    Bruno Fernandes, 20, Attacking midfielder

    At 20 years of age, Bruno Fernandes represents yet another young talent amongst Udinese’s ranks. In his two years in north-east Italy, the Portuguese Under 21 international has had a notable impact in the attacking third. Playing in an advanced midfield role, Fernandes has notched eight goals in 63 appearances since joining in 2013 and he has proved to be an equally effective provider with nine assists.

    Born in Maia, in the Metropolitan Area of Porto, Fernandes has enjoyed a steady rise since switching from his local outfit Boavista to Novara at the age of 17. Blooded through the Piedmont side’s youth academy, it didn’t take long before he was promoted to the first team, where his four goals and three assists helped his team-mates to the Serie B play-offs. Defeated by Empoli, his opportunities to play top-flight football lay elsewhere and he has subsequently taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to him at Udinese.

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