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Who’s This 23-Year Old Italian Defender That West Ham Are Targeting? Everything You Need To Know

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Francesco Vicari
Francesco Vicari

Scout Report – Francesco Vicari

According to reports from Italian outlet Calciomercato (h/t talkSPORT), West Ham United are targeting a January move for Italian centre-half Francesco Vicari from newly-promoted Serie A side SPAL.

The 23-year old has been impressive for the Serie A newbies so far in the new season and has caught the eye of the Hammers scouts. Given their torrid start to the new campaign, Slaven Bilic is keen on adding new faces to his backline in the winter transfer window and sees Vicari as a potential signing.  

With interest in the defender from the Irons reaching its peak, here we take a close look at who Francesco Vicari really is and what will he be able to offer to the club, if signed.

Footballing Background 

Born on 3 August 1994, in Rome, Italy, Vicari spent several of his initial years in football with Fiano Romano (1999-2006), before spending a year at Monterotondo and Tor Tre Teste, before eventually joining Roma in 2008. Having been with the club for 3 years, the defender moved to Taranto in 2011, before joining Novarra a year later.

Having been a part of the U-19s for the most part of 2012/13 campaign, Vicari made his senior debut late in the season, in May 2013 in the Serie B, and became a regular part of the team from the subsequent season onwards. The Italian went on to make 68 appearances for the club in four years, scoring one goal and assisting one more, before moving to SPAL in the summer of 2016.

In his debut season with the club, Vicari went on to make 34 appearances in the Serie B, finding the back of the net once and registering one goal, playing a vital role in the club achieving promotion to the Italian top-flight. The 23-year old made his Serie A debut on 20 August 2017 and has gone on to play 6 times so far. He has also featured in one Coppa Italia game, in which he’s scored. 

Vicari has represented the Italy U-20 side 5 times and has taken the field for the U-21s on one occasion. He is yet to break into the senior side.

Style Of Play 

A centre-back who is predominantly right-footed, Vicari has shown good concentration and discipline at the heart of the defence.

Alert to threat and ability to keep his focus in the game with unerring concentration make him a good option to have at the back. An old-fashioned no-nonsense defender, the 23-year old is tall and strong, standing at 190cm. However, surprisingly, he is not the strongest when it comes to aerial duels and has won just 0.2 aerial battles per 90 minutes this term.  

Not a reckless tackler, Vicari relies on his game-reading abilities and prefers staying on his feet and winning the ball rather than lunging into challenges. This season, he has averaged 1.7 interceptions and 1.2 shots blocked per 90 mins, highlighting his awareness at the back.

However, he does lack the ball playing skills that have become vogue recently. Not being the best passer or a great dribbler, that is one area he might need to improve if he is to grow into a better centre-back in the modern game. His ability to win aerial duels needs work as well. 

What Does The Future Hold? 

The 23-year old has fared decently in his big break in the Serie A this season, but six games is too early to judge how he might turn out to be. There are some good qualities, no doubt, but Vicari’s lack of experience at the top level and limited abilities in some key aspects of the game means that he may not turn out to be the best investment for West Ham.