Matteo Darmian has taken the express route to stardom at Torino, rising from a discarded Milan youth product to a player sought around Europe.
The 24-year-old has been an absolute rock for the Granata since arriving in the summer of 2011, helping the club return to Serie A and making the step up in quality with aplomb.
Last season Darmian truly began to consolidate his reputation in Italian football, starring for a Torino side that battled to an impressive eighth-place finish in the top flight.
Incredibly, the full-back played all but 134 of the minutes on offer in Serie A over the course of the campaign, earning a reputation for having an unstoppable engine out wide.
Darmian’s success catapulted him into a starting role in Italy’s World Cup squad and he has been an Azzurri regular ever since, continuing his good form with Toro this term.
His rise to relevance has reportedly seen him capture the attention of Manchester United, with Louis van Gaal said to be keen on a January swoop for his services.
And amid this interest from the Red Devils, ex-Torino striker Marco Ferrante – fifth all-time with 125 goals for the Granata – has declared Darmian Italy’s best in his position.
Ferrante told Tutto Mercato Web: “He is Italy’s best full-back, where unfortunately there is little. But this is not to discredit him.
“Matteo started quietly and has done brilliantly in becoming nearly the best in the Nazionale. He looks like a veteran in the Azzurri shirt, has personality at Toro and is top class.”
At the international level Darmian has forced fellow Milan youth product Mattia De Sciglio onto the left flank, whilst he’s pushed Ignazio Abate and Christian Maggio out of the squad completely.
At 24 he still has room to grow and that is an encouraging sign for suitors Manchester United, who by all accounts are watching his price-tag increase day by day.
The latest reports indicate that Torino will demand at least £10 million to let go of Darmian in January, a far cry from his value just a year ago.
United will need to stump up the cash if they want their man mid-season, as Torino are well-aware just how valuable an asset they have on their hands.
There’s a reason the likes of Ferrante are publicly speaking to Darmian’s quality, and with his stock on the up he’ll only become a more expensive commodity with time.