Close your eyes and try to write the name of the great revelation of world football in 2022-23: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. It’s hard, isn’t it? As far as locking it in the field. From his anonymity, the Georgian winger signed by Napoli from Dinamo Batumi less than a year ago will certainly jump onto the list of nominees for the Ballon d’Or.
An undisputed starter for Luciano Spalletti since the start of the season, the talented, restless and unpredictable 22-year-old striker is one of the rare players in Europe’s top leagues to have surpassed double digits this season in both goals (14) and assists (14). ) in all competitions and is one of the main reasons for the good campaign that the team from the south of Italy has been doing: they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and are on the verge of winning their first national title since 1990.
In recent months, I’ve tried to get to know this phenomenon better and what has impressed me the most is that “Kvaradona”, as they already call him in reference to the greatest idol of Neapolitan football, still has an enormous margin of progression. in the offensive dynamics of the Azzurri, with participation in goals that borders on the average of one goal per game (0.76) between accurate shots and assists, it is a player who can still grow a lot in the definition of plays.
Possibly already one of the best in the world at the level of short dribbling, Kvaratskhelia manages to dismantle a team’s defensive organization by himself, as he has shown the ability to leave a telephone booth with the ball dominated. Still in the recent second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, against AC Milan, I saw him several times getting rid of two opponents – right-back Davide Calabria and winger Brahim Díaz or interior midfielder Rade Krunic, who alternately helped their teammate – who watched him closely, completely undoing the numerical inferiority that his team had in the ball area.
However, when he reached the vicinity of the small area, perhaps because he lacked some discernment after so much effort during the course of the play, he defined badly. This gap is also noticeable in the statistics, as in this edition of the Champions League he is the player with the greatest negative difference between expected goals (5.78) and goals scored (2).
It was precisely this defect that struck me most about the Georgian. Imagine when this winger, who already has very high participation in goals, manages to combine all that street football with more discernment, more criteria and better definition. It will be the best in the world. It is true that he has already scored several goals that were not expected, but he also often misses the shots in which the fans were already preparing to celebrate.
Considering what he’s worth these days, I can imagine him playing for any of the best teams in the world, perhaps just with the exception of Real Madrid, who already have a Vinícius Júnior who combines a fantastic short dribble with great maturity in the definition of plays on the left wing of the attack. Interestingly, they are both in the top 3 of footballers with the most successful dribbles in the Champions League this season: the Brazilian adds 42, whilst Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has 35 and in between there is Rafael Leão with 37.