I won't lie, I raised my eyebrows when Aston Villa signed Pierluigi Gollini back in July. Relegated to the Championship, Villa brought the young keeper in to replace Brad Guzan, a once solid shot stopper whose confidence evaporated with Villa's poor form. It was never going to be an easy job to come into a side which conceded 76 goals last season, and so from the start, a lot of pressure was placed on Gollini's young shoulders.
To be clear, Pierluigi Gollini hasn't been bad for Villa. In terms of shot stopping, he's actually been pretty good. Aerially, he lacks confidence, but that's the kind of thing that comes with time. And sure, he has made a few mistakes this season, but what player hasn't? It just so happens that when a goalkeeper makes a mistake, it sticks in the memory more than any other player (generally speaking).
Regardless of how well you think he's performed for Villa, he's seemingly done enough to interest a couple of Italian giants. Recently, Inter Milan joined Juventus in apparently being interested in Gollini. Indeed, Gollini actually turned down Juventus to sign for Villa in the summer.
But why do these sides want Gollini? It wouldn't be the first time that a young Italian keeper has been linked with the big clubs. In fact, it seems like the media have branded several keepers as "Buffon's Successor" over the past decade. Nicola Leali and Mattia Perin spring to mind, along with Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma. I guess it does make sense that these clubs might want a young Italian keeper as an investment for the future. This is especially true in Inter's case, as starting keeper Samir Handanovic is 32 years old, and will need to be replaced in the near future.
But is Pierluigi Gollini really THE guy that these teams need? After all, he was dropped last weekend for Mark Bunn, who himself isn't the greatest. Why would the big teams in Italian football want a player who Steve Bruce rates worse than Mark Bunn? Our own writer, James Rushton, who also writes for AC Milan Offside might have the answer. Check out what he said:
"Pierluigi Gollini has a lot of tools that are valued in European keepers. He's mobile and smart.
"Steve Bruce probably wants a traditional keeper, whilst Gollini can be moulded into a keeper more similar to a Manuel Neuer.
"In England, teams tend to rely on goalkeepers a lot, but from what I've seen of Serie A, the defence are expected to do all the work. This will hide Gollini's flaws well. Not only that, but he's grew up in Italy and has experience of the leagues. He'd be an excellent deputy.
"The emergence of Milan's Donnarumma means most teams are lacking between the sticks."
So there you have it. Personally, I think that if any team actually wants Gollini, they need to make it worth Villa's while. He signed for around about £4.1M, and I'd hope that Villa would double their money on that. Realistically, when a club in Villa's position sign a young prospect, it probably was always going to be a stepping stone. I guess I just didn't expect Gollini to be stepping up so soon.
Should Aston Villa be looking to offload Gollini already? Let us know below.