Juventus CFO Francesco Calvo is overjoyed at Tommaso Barbieri making his Serie A debut, the sixth player from the NextGen team to come through to the senior squad. ‘This is the year when the project is really consolidated.’

The encounter with Sassuolo kicks off at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT).

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens from today’s Serie A games on the LIVEBLOG.

Max Allegri was always reticent to field young players, but has really made the most of the youth academy and NextGen squad this season, today giving a Serie A debut to 20-year-old right-back Barbieri.

“He is clearly excited, but his teammates are helping him relax and feel that this is his natural habitat. Tommaso is the sixth player from the NextGen to debut in Serie A this season and that is a huge result,” Calvo told DAZN.

“I was looking at the statistics and in the first four years of the NextGen, we brought through circa 28 players with 80-82 appearances. This season, with now six players we’ve already got over 90 appearances. That shows this is the year when the project is really consolidated and now will become a regular pipeline for the senior squad.

“It has always been in the DNA of Juventus to churn out Italian youngsters who can play for the Nazionale and it makes us proud.”

Juventus remain the only club in Italy to have taken up the option of a reserve team playing in Serie C and it is beginning to really pay off.

Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi has been heavily linked with Juve, Roma, Milan and Inter for next season, so Calvo was asked if he would fit in for the Bianconeri.

“Talking about a specific Sassuolo player isn’t fair today. If we didn’t track every strong, young and Italian player in Serie A, then we wouldn’t be doing our job.

“Frattesi is a very talented player who, as Sassuolo director Giovanni Carnevali said today, is ready to play for a big club in Serie A. It could be Juventus or another, but the important thing is he’s Italian.”

The Bianconeri go into this clash after a mixed week, as while they lost to Lazio in Serie A, they took a 1-0 first leg lead over Sporting CP in the Europa League quarter-final.

Next week promises to be even trickier, as on Wednesday April 19 they get the verdict of their appeal against a 15-point penalty for artificially inflating transfer fees to boost capital gains, then on Thursday the second leg of that quarter-final in Lisbon.

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