MILAN (Reuters) - Genoa have had little to celebrate in the last few months but 16-year-old striker Pietro Pellegri has given Italy’s oldest club at least one reason to be cheerful.
He became the youngest player to score twice in a Serie A match when he was on target in the 3-2 home defeat by Lazio on Sunday, bringing tears to the eyes of his father Marco who is the assistant coach and watched from the bench.
Pellegri had already become the joint-youngest player to play in Serie A when he made his debut in December at the age of 15 years and 280 days, and in May became the first player born in 2001 to score when he was on target against AS Roma.
His performance on Sunday led Corriere dello Sport to label him ‘The Italian Mbappe’ after 18-year-old Kylian, who joined Paris St Germain from Monaco in August for a huge fee.
Mbappe joined initially on loan but PSG will complete a permanent deal in 12 months’ time worth about 180 million euros ($214.79 million), which would make the exciting France international the world’s second most expensive player.
Genoa coach Ivan Juric, whose future is in doubt because of poor results over the past few months, tried to keep a lid on expectations, saying Pellegri must focus on improving.
“Pellegri is a lad who works really hard, he really wants to improve his movement on the pitch,” said Juric, whose team have taken one point from their opening four games.
“He’s 16 years old and it will not be a problem to manage him. He has great power, when shooting and when running.”
“Last year, he never attacked the penalty area, he wanted to play with his back to goal. We’ve worked really hard on this aspect,” added Juric.
“He still has huge potential for improvement and he can do that if he keeps working the way he is now.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris