Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Moise Kean: Who is the Juventus starlet who stepped in for Ronaldo and downed Udinese?

The 19-year-old bagged two goals to keep Juve well clear at the top of Serie A

Udinese would have looked at Juventus's team sheet on Friday night and welcomed the absence of some of football's biggest names.

Cristiano Ronaldo? On the subs bench. Paulo Dybala? Also on the bench. Mario Mandzukic? Benched as well.

But in their place in attack was Moise Kean - an unknown quantity to many outside of Italy, until now that is.

How did Kean get on?

It was his first league start of the season and he certainly took his rare opportunity with two goals, including an old-school toe-punt after an explosive burst of pace, and also won a penalty which Emre Can converted in the 4-1 victory.

Ronaldo, Dybala and Mandzukic were all being rested ahead of Tuesday's Uefa Champions League second leg clash with Atletico Madrid, with Juventus 2-0 down in that tie.

Has he played much for Juventus prior to this?

No. His only other start this season was against Bologna in the Coppa Italia in January and he scored in that match, too.

There have also been substitute appearances in the Champions League against Young Boys, and Fiorentina and Chievo in Serie A.

Then there was his international debut for Italy against the the United States in November when he came off the bench for the last half an hour but failed to score in the 1-0 victory. Born in Italy, he was also eligible to play for Ivory Coast through his father.

Italy manager Roberto Mancini has been trying to usher in a younger generation of players to his squad and Kean is regarded as one of the country's brightest prospects.

He spent last season on loan at Verona, netting four times in 20 appearances. Prior to that, there were four appearances in the 2016/17 season for Juventus including his first goal for the club against Bologna.

He must have been extremely young at that point....

Indeed, he had just turned 17. His debut came in November 2016, aged 16, making him the first player born in the 2000s to play in one of Europe's top four leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany).

He followed suit when he made his first Champions League appearance in the same month, and his first goal also marked the first by a player born in this millennium to score in the top leagues.

Will he get many more opportunities this season?

Much will depend on the fitness of the first-choice trio of strikers. But Kean has shown his eye for goal and will could be a useful weapon from the bench.

Dybala has been strongly linked with a move away at the end of the season, and once the Serie A title has been sealed - which it inevitably will be - Kean could expect some more game time before the end of the campaign.

Updated: March 9, 2019 01:47 PM

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