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The rise of Arsenal transfer target Riccardo Calafiori: From career-threatening injury to Paolo Maldini comparisons at Euro 2024

The rise of Arsenal transfer target Riccardo Calafiori: From career-threatening injury to Paolo Maldini comparisons at Euro 2024

Six years on from a horrific motocross-style injury, the stylish and versatile defender is closing in on a move to the Emirates Stadium

Riccardo Calafiori was 16 years old, had just signed his first professional contract with Roma and it was being suggested that his career might already be over. In the 82nd minute of a UEFA Youth League match against Viktoria Plzen, his right knee was so badly swollen that it was three times the size of his left knee. A shocking, brutal tackle from Vaclav Svoboda.

Some of the experts assessing the damage couldn’t believe what they were seeing: all the ligaments had been torn, along with the meniscus and joint capsule. “This kind of thing usually only happens in motocross – not in football,” one medic said Corriere dello Sport“This is a once-in-a-decade injury.”

Looking back now, Calafiori says it was probably lucky that it happened when he was so young, because he didn’t fully grasp the gravity of the situation, but that doesn’t make his defiant response to such a serious setback any less remarkable.

“It’s time to truly bring out everything that’s inside me” She wrote on Instagram just one day after her entire world was turned upside down. “This time, there is no decisive match, no final to be won… The most important fight of my life is ahead of me and I absolutely cannot back down. It is time to put aside the child I have been until now, the little boy at times, and become a MAN.


“A bad knee injury will keep me out of action for a long time and will keep me off the pitch, but my desire to come back STRONGER than before will grow every day. I have found myself faced with a very difficult challenge many times, but as always I will win!!!”