Zonal Marking / Italian football's search for the next Pirlo

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Episode notes

The Athletic's Michael Cox and James Horncastle join Ali Maxwell ahead of Serie A returning this week for a look at the next generation of Italian midfielders, starting with a man some have compared to the legendary Andrea Pirlo - Brescia's Sandro Tonali.

Tonali has been lighting up Serie A this season and drawing comparisons to Pirlo but is there more to his game than that comparison suggests?

Elsewhere we take a broader look at the history of Italian midfielders - be they registas, fantasistas or medianos - and also run the rule over some of the other contenders aiming to grasp the midfield mantle for the Azzuri from the established figures of Jorginho and Marco Veratti to the emerging talents of Gaetano Castrovilli, Stefano Sensi, Nicolò Zaniolo and Nicolò Barella.

Sign up to The Athletic for access to Michael Cox's tactical musings and James Horncastle's Italian dispatches plus the best Premier League coverage you'll find anywhere - head to theathletic.com/zonalmarking for a 40% discount