Some are designed for greatness, some mould themselves for it. Fiorentina forward Riccardo Sottil falls into the latter category. Choked by the iron fist of mediocrity right from an early age, his development was quite static. The environment in which Sottil was forced to navigate his initial years proved to be unideal & stagnancy prevailed. But fighters never give up. Fueled by passion, the hardworking Italian has grown into a finer player playing his trade at Fiorentina. As teams across Europe look to strengthen, Riccardo Sottil will soon be presented with an opportunity to rise out of the mediocrity he was betrothed to.
Name: Riccardo Sottil.
Preferred Foot: Right.
Current Club: ACF Fiorentina.
Style of Play
A characteristic often attributed to successful modern wingers is electric pace which enables them to offer directness. While Riccardo lacks the legs of a cheetah, the wide man more than makes up for it with his audacious dribbling ability. He constantly scans his surroundings before receiving the ball and moves in the opposite direction to create space to further the ball. Sottil’s ability to detach from defenders paired with his agility and diverse skill set are the prime reasons for Fiorentina’s success in progressing the ball this season. Blessed with good close control, the Italian often predicts the defender’s movement and goes the opposite way to push past. Riccardo by no means is a finished article but his dribbling and physicality on the ball has given Fiorentina the edge frequently this season.
With the emergence of goal-scoring wingers/inside forwards, the playmaking traditional winger has disappeared. Sottil supplies us with beauty of the lost role. He has mostly worked on the left, running into wide areas and crossing the ball into the middle of the box for the striker. An impressive quality he has is his ability to cross the ball into the box with either foot without any decrease in accuracy. Even when he cuts into the box, he likes to attract attention to himself before laying the ball off for a teammate to score. This season, Riccardo Sottil is yet to find the net in the league and has only taken 12 shots further highlighting his heavy presence in the wide areas, creating.
Sottil’s constant need to be involved in the play is evident while studying his heatmap. He constantly drops down towards the half line of the pitch to collect the ball. The Italian seems to fancy dragging his marker closer to the touchline creating an illusion of being trapped while he enables his peers to travel into acres of space of newly unmarked territory to progress the game. A major reason for Riccardo’s success is also his frequent scanning of area and noting what space his teammates occupy. His quick passing helps move the ball further ahead into dangerous zones. His limitations are sometimes exposed when he faced with a pacey fullback but till now, he has managed to hold his own.
When he doesn’t have the ball, Sottil is constantly slipping into spaces where he has the freedom to collect long balls played by his team. He often engages the fullback with a fake run in behind before dropping to receive the ball and wrong foot the defender marking him. He usually occupies wide areas even when his team has possession in central spaces. This not only widens the gaps between the backline of the opposition but also keeps the fullback engaged leaving the midfielder free to make a run into the box. On the occasion, the rival team is defending in a low block, Riccardo Sottil provides his team with a free option out wide to cross the ball in. His reading of the opposition this season has been impressive.
Creativity & Passing
Fiorentina’s attack is stacked with talented players yet the return has been poor this campaign. In a team struggling to create & score goals, Riccardo has been the light at the end of a dark tunnel. In Serie A, the Italian has already bagged 2 assists. His precise passes & lethal crosses into the box have opened up several defences this season. On average, Riccardo has played 1.4 key passes P90. Furthermore, the 23-year-old’s passing has resulted in creating a whopping 25 Shot Creating Actions. This return strongly suggests that he has found teammates in strong positions to strike for a goal.
Even when he drops deeper, the creator in him is always alive. He likes playing risky penetrating passes across the pitch to find his teammate on the other wing. While in possession, an admirable quality showcased by Riccardo is his patience. He is never in a hurry to pass the ball and waits for spaces to open up. This presence of “la Pausa” in his game is a good sign of maturity. Due to his habit of taking risk in order to create chances, his pass completion rate hovers just a touch about 80%. Still pretty impressive when compared to others in the Fiorentina camp.
Till now, Riccardo Sottil hasn’t shown any great defensive abilities. On average, he wins 50% of his duels (aerial & ground) but nothing to boast about. The winger isn’t burdened with many defensive duties and he is always vigilant to receive the ball to initiate a swift counterattack.
With wonder kids erupting from the soul of academies every day at young ages, for a player like Riccardo Sottil to be recognized will be an arduous task. He isn’t the most talented winger out there but with the hard work he has put in over the years, he will definitely become a crucial player for any team he plays. The Italian’s supreme understanding of the game paired with his fantastic on ball ability, if honed & developed further, Sottil could go a far way.