On 22 December 2016, at just 15-years-old and 280 days, Pietro Pellegri took the field as an 88th-minute substitute for Genoa in a Serie A game. In doing so, he broke a 79-year-old Calcio record by becoming the youngest player ever to feature in Italy’s top football division.
Pellegri also went on to score 3 goals in 9 appearances of which, 7 were substitute appearances for his boyhood club, making him a serious young player that had a bright future ahead of him.
Being the hottest and most sought after prospect in Italian football back then, the young Italian forward was rumoured to be on his way to joining many prominent sides including those in the domestic league and abroad.
In January 2018, the youngster and his entourage brought an end to these rumours and signed for Monaco in a deal reportedly worth £22 million (UGX 107,523,133,146). With Monaco’s high reputation for transforming youngsters into real stars, there was no doubt that Pellegri had chosen the right destination for his development.
As a new winter signing, Pellegri played only 21 minutes from 3 Ligue 1 games in which he came on as a substitute in all. Because of that, he went on to become the youngest player ever to play for Monaco in the league dethroning Kylian Mbappe.
The 2018/19 season started well for the youngster that he had managed to find the back of the net once in the 3 times he came on as a substitute. Unfortunately, Pellegri was injured on 25 September 2018 in what was the beginning of an infinite loop of injuries that have stagnated his progress at Monaco.
For 2 years, Pellegri suffered from recurring muscle problems which kept him sidelined all that long. Former Monaco manager once said that the teenager’s problems were due to vigorous training sessions at Genoa which are meant for older players, not 14 or 15-year-olds like he was.
Consistent injuries were some of the reasons why Pietro Pellegri started to lose form during his career
Throughout the time he has been off injured, Pellegri has always attempted to return to action but has always suffered numerous setbacks which further caused him to take some time off for over 2 years.
The pandemic break has, however, been a boost to the recovery of now 19-year-old Pietro Pellegri. It gave him enough time to rest and return to full fitness in time for the 2020/21 season.
In this new season, there has been some progress in his career, as Pellegri has been featured in the match-day squad 8/10 times in which he has come off the bench 5 times.
Although he has featured for only a total of 75 minutes of competitive league football this season, this is a step in the right direction of trying to achieve what is expected of him.
Despite the hardships the 6ft 2In forward has faced since his move to the Fontvieille side, The Monégasques still highly rate the second most expensive 16-year-old. They recently slapped a £35 million price tag for anyone who wants to lure him away from Stade St. Louis II and have also turned in loan offers for the 19-year-old.
In his current shape, even taking him on loan would be a burden to the club that accepts the offer as he is surely made of glass than any other material considering the fact that he has had a string of injuries in these past few years.
Many questions linger around Pietro Pellegri’s football career. Questions like whether he can even reach half of the potential or can his body let him have a presentable football career given that he has only featured in 17 league games since he made his professional debut with Genoa in 2016?
Only time will distinctively tell whether he will step up or end up like the hundreds of thousands of teenage football sensations who have fallen down the drain of senior football.
For many who have watched him, especially Italian football fans filled with nostalgia, wish he manages to bounce back given that even age is still on his side.
Author: Katende Basajjabaka
Katende writes about sports and occasionally technology.