How long ago Daniele Rugani’s Serie A debut with Juventus now seems. Since coming on with half an hour to play against Carpi back in December, the 21-year-old has slowly but surely asserted himself as a key component of Massimiliano Allegri’s matchday squads and, ever increasingly, starting line-ups.
Upon arriving at the club last summer off the back of an outstanding season with Empoli, Rugani’s first six months in Turin were very much about learning the ropes in a different environment to that in Tuscany and waiting for his time to shine when eventually called upon by Allegri.
Now, following four successive 90-minute-long appearances in the league, the Italy U21 international has shown just why he is considered one of the country’s most promising defenders, as he experiences a rise he is thoroughly relishing.
“I’m enjoying every moment of this run in the side,” he opened during this afternoon's interview with Sky Sport. “It’s a source of great satisfaction to be selected by the boss and I look to repay his faith in me by giving my very best on the pitch.
“At a club like Juventus, full of stars who are regularly rewriting football history, it’s necessary to make a positive impact from the start. I feel like I’ve done that now and, with the help of my team-mates, I’m contributing more and more to this side.”
For a young player looking to make his way in the game, a strong relationship with the manager can be especially important and Rugani was keen to stress just how supportive Allegri has been over the course of the campaign.
“He talks a lot to me. Earlier in the season he told me to stay patient and calm. I’ve appreciated how he’s always been very close to me.”
Further help in terms of Rugani’s development has arrived, of course, in the form of Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, three pillars of Juve’s and Italy’s backline from whom he admitted he was learning a great deal.
“They’re three unbelievable defenders, who have the perfect mix of attributes. You’ve the phenomenal concentration levels of Barzagli, the physicality and grit of Chiellini and in Bonucci you’ve a strong character and great technical ability to build up the play from the back.”
Asked to describe himself, the Tuscan replied: “I tend to reflect on things and to be less impulsive, which can also be important, but I’m always looking to broaden my horizons here.”
Meanwhile, on explaining the emotions of his Champions League debut in September against Sevilla, he purred: “That would have to be my most special moment this season. It was a dream come true to play on such a big stage with this club.”
Ever ambitious and forward-thinking, Rugani fittingly rounded off the interview emphasising how important it was that he and the whole team continued to maintain their focus on the remaining Serie A fixtures in their bid to record an historic fifth successive Scudetto title.
“We’ve six games left, our opponents are not letting up, there are still plenty of points to play for and so we need to keep our feet pressed down on the accelerator until the very end.
He concluded: “The away match against Fiorentina could well be crucial, but we’ve two home games (against Palermo and Lazio) before that which could give us a good boost.”