Across Europe’s top five leagues there are just four players who have registered 10 or more for both goals and assists this season.
One of them is Karim Benzema, the Real Madrid superstar who has 22 goals and 11 assists for a total of 33 goal contributions, more than anyone else across Europe.
One is Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, arguably the form player in Europe, who has 20 goals and 10 assists.
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Another is Kylian Mbappe, the most exciting young player in the world, who has 15 goals and 10 assists.
The fourth player is not like the others. The fourth player plays for Sassuolo, who are ninth in Serie A.
And his name is Domenico Berardi.

REGGIO NELL'EMILIA, ITALY - MARCH 18: Domenico Berardi of US Sassuolo celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and Spezia Calcio at Mapei Stadium - Citta' del Tricolore on March 18, 2022 in Reggio nell'Em

Image credit: Getty Images

Berardi, 27, has 14 goals and 11 assists this season for a total of 25 goal contributions. It is the most of any player in Serie A and the third highest across Europe (Robert Lewandowski is second with 31 goals and one assist). This is already an improvement on his performance last season, which was still really impressive at 17 goals and seven assists.
It is part of a remarkable three-year evolution that has seen Berardi finally fulfil the promise he first showed when he burst onto the scene with Sassuolo as a teenager. In the middle years of his career he has had some injury problems as well as horrible consistency with his form. Yet finally it seems as if Berardi has put it all together to become one of the best attackers in Europe.
“He has erupted,” explains Paolo Pegoraro of Eurosport Italy. “In the last two years he has really come on. Before he was skilful but not consistent. Perhaps too nervous, and thinking too much about the game.
“Now he has found the right rhythm, Euro 2020 really helped his self-esteem and he definitely grew up as he was given more of a role with Robert Mancini.”
Berardi’s form in his debut season with Sassuolo back in 2012, where he helped the tiny club win promotion to Serie A, attracted the attention of Juventus. The Turin giants purchased Berardi via the since-outlawed co-ownership system with Berardi remaining on loan for the season. That deal (the loan and co-ownership) was renewed for one more year before it was resolved in the summer of 2015 in favour of Sassuolo with Juventus having a purchase option in 2016, which they did not exercise.
Since then Sassuolo and Berardi have suffered immense highs (such as qualifying for Europe and beating a number of the big clubs away from home) and immense lows (inexplicable losses at home, throwing away leads and nearly going straight back down to Serie B in their first season). They are without a doubt the archetype of the loveable mid-table club. They are plucky, they play pretty football and they are brilliant in the market and with their youth system. They’re like a smaller Villarreal.
The normality for clubs like Sassuolo is to lose their best players every year and then rebuild. They are not immune. Since 2017 they have lost Lorenzo Pellgrini, Gregoire Defrel, Francesco Acerbi, Matteo Politano, Merih Demiral, Stefano Sensi and Jeremie Boga. This summer they will likely lose one or both of their front line in Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca who have nine and 13mleague goals this season respectively.
Yet Berardi remains. It’s not like he hasn’t tried. Last summer it was reported that he asked the club to sell him to a bigger team. Milan, Chelsea and Leicester City were all mentioned. But the deal didn’t materialise.

REGGIO NELL'EMILIA, ITALY - MARCH 18: Domenico Berardi of US Sassuolo celebrates after scoring his team second goal during the Serie A match between US Sassuolo and Spezia Calcio at Mapei Stadium - Citta' del Tricolore on March 18, 2022 in Reggio nell'Emi

Image credit: Getty Images

Berardi responded perfectly, he knuckled down and did his best to get the team into the top 10 and possibly even higher. Statistically this should end up as the best ever season for a player who could have sulked and thrown a tantrum, but instead worked harder than ever before, from his right flank.
To get an idea of just how good Berardi is this is what Pegoraro said when asked to describe the forward’s strengths.
“Technique, strength, very skilful, I would say a real playmaker even though he plays as the right striker. Every play of Sassuolo goes through him.”
And this is what he said when we asked about what makes him such a threat when it comes to both goals and assists.
“Simple, very easy answer. His left foot is an absolute wand and he is a football genius. This guy just “gets” football. Such a natural.”
High-praise indeed, but you can see it when you watch Sassuolo, and if you get the chance to do so before now and the end of the season then you definitely should take the chance. Not only is Berardi one of the best players to watch, Sassuolo are about as fun as it gets. They can be chaotic at times but it’s great to watch. They also tend to play up to their opponents and between now and the end of the season they will face Lazio and Napoli away as well as Atalanta, Juventus and Milan at home.
It also might be the last chance to watch one of Europe’s best frontlines with a possibility that all three of Berardi, Scamacca and Raspadori all reportedly on the way out. Scamacca is reportedly going to Inter Milan whilst Raspadori is being eyed up as a potential replacement for Paulo Dybala at Juventus.
As for Berardi? Pegoraro says that “ we [at Eurosport Italy] think he cannot remain at Sassuolo, he has become too large for them, for that kind of level.”

FLORENCE, ITALY - MARCH 21: Domenico Berardi and Sandro Tonali of Italy in action during a Italy training session at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on March 21, 2022 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Image credit: Getty Images

He believes that Milan, a long-term admirer, as well as Napoli in the post-Lorenzo Insigne world, could be perfect fits.
Maybe then Berardi will finally get the attention and recognition that he so richly deserves. For now he has a job to do with the Italian national team, and then with Sassuolo.
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