Worldwide domestic leagues are growing at varying paces. England, Spain and the USA continue to lead the way, breaking records at an undeniable pace. A league that is yet to feel the real popularity surge is Serie A Femminile, the top tier of women’s football in Italy.

Serie A Femminile is currently in its second professional season, while the English Women’s Super League (WSL) has entered its fifth professional season; highlighting the differing trajectories and growth rates of the two leagues. 

As it stands, only two Italians are playing in the WSL; Martina Piemonte joined Azzurre midfielder Aurora Galli at Everton in the summer of 2023. 

But sitting in the middle of the park for the most prolific Italian side in recent memory, Juventus, is a hidden gem. A player whose consistency, accuracy and talent knows no boundaries. A player who, at just 24 years old, has won everything there is to win in Italy, a handful of times. A player whose goals ensured Italy left the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2023 with something to celebrate.

Her name? Arianna Caruso. 

FLORENCE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 18: <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/07/24/womens-football/1151677-italy-1-0-argentina-girelli-glory-as-le-azzurre-pick-up-three-points.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/07/24/womens-football/1151677-italy-1-0-argentina-girelli-glory-as-le-azzurre-pick-up-three-points.html'>Arianna Caruso</a></strong> and Aurora Galli of Italy during Italy Training Session at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on September 18, 2023 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Getty Images)
FLORENCE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 18: Arianna Caruso and Aurora Galli of Italy during Italy Training Session at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on September 18, 2023 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Getty Images)

Carus-Who?: An introduction to the ‘Leone’

Before joining her current club, Juventus, at age 18, Arianna Caruso had won three Primavera Championships with Res Roma. Since her move to the Bianconere in 2017, the Italian has played a pivotal role in the club’s record-breaking five Scudettos in five seasons. Highly rated by the club's two managers thus far, current Inter Milan boss Rita Guarino and the recently dismissed Joe Montemurro, Il Leone has flourished in her box-to-box midfielder role. 

Her consistent individual performances for Juventus have not gone unnoticed in Italy. For the last three consecutive seasons, Caruso has been named in the Serie A Women's Team of the Year - an achievement not to be underestimated considering the league's talent in her position. Furthermore, the 24-year-old has celebrated seven further pieces of silverware, excluding the five aforementioned Scudettos. Three Coppa Italia and four Suppacoppa Italiana medals also adorn the neck of Caruso, who, at this point, should be considered a serial domestic winner. To top it off, she became the first women's player to reach 200 appearances for Juventus this season - again, at 24 YEARS OLD.

Unfortunately, Caruso’s domestic success has not yet translated into international silverware.

Caruso's talent has been recognised by her coaches for many years, first having pulled on the famous Azzurre jersey as an Under 15 player back in 2015. The young midfielder made her debut with the Azzurrine on 9 April that same year, in a match to which Italy lost 0-1 against the Czech Republic.

Fast-forward to August 2019, when Milena Bertolini's side looked to secure qualification for the 2022 Women's Euros. Caruso made her senior debut for the Azzurre in the 76th minute to see out a 3-2 win against Israel. Her profound influence on her national team since her debut has solidified her position as a cornerstone in Andrea Soncin’s (previously Milena Bertolini’s) squad, making her a fixture on the team sheet. 

Arianna Caruso of Italy during the match between Italy and Japan during the Summer Universiade match at Stadio Arechi on July 02, 2019 in Salerno, Italy. (Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images)
Arianna Caruso of Italy during the match between Italy and Japan during the Summer Universiade match at Stadio Arechi on July 02, 2019 in Salerno, Italy. (Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images)

Style of play

In a quick-fire interview with the FIGC, Caruso stated her footballing hero as AS Roma and Italian legend, Francesco Totti. As an aspiring football player growing up in Rome, it is easy to understand why Totti was Caru's idol. Now as a professional football player, Totti's influence on Juventus' number 21 is very clear to see.

Caruso is a dynamic midfielder who is a threat in all areas of the pitch. Naturally right-footed, but comfortable enough with her left, the Italian demonstrates her talent through her highly accurate passing, crossing, and dribbling ability in the middle of the park. The ball sticks effortlessly to her foot, almost as if a magnet has been woven into her boots. 

One of the most impressive attributes of Arianna Caruso's game is her footballing IQ. Her vision in and out of possession is outstanding and is an attribute that her teammates publicly applaud her for. It is a massive reason as to why her goal involvement statistics are consistently high season after season. Combining her vision to pick out a teammate through on goal, with the accuracy of various passing ranges, makes her a real thorn in the side of the opposition. 

When out of possession, Caruso's vision to read her opponent's game has also assisted Juventus multiple times this season; her anticipation of the opposition's passing patterns means she has become a master of interceptions for the Bianconere. 

Off the ball, her movement across the field makes life a great deal easier for her teammates. Caruso is a player desperate to consistently influence play, so will move into great pockets of space that offer a great option. Her positioning in the final third contributes to many of Juventus' and Italy's goals, as her striker's instinct means she's unafraid and confident to take a shot if in sight of goal. 

SEREGNO, ITALY - NOVEMBER 12: <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/07/01/womens-football/1150235-italys-world-cup-journey-holds-the-hopes-of-millions-of-aspiring-italian-female-footballers-a-womens-world-cup-2023-preview.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/07/01/womens-football/1150235-italys-world-cup-journey-holds-the-hopes-of-millions-of-aspiring-italian-female-footballers-a-womens-world-cup-2023-preview.html'>Arianna Caruso</a></strong> of Juventus celebrates her goal during the Women Serie A match between Como Women and Juventus at Stadio Ferruccio on November 12, 2023 in Seregno, Italy. (Photo by Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)
SEREGNO, ITALY - NOVEMBER 12: Arianna Caruso of Juventus celebrates her goal during the Women Serie A match between Como Women and Juventus at Stadio Ferruccio on November 12, 2023 in Seregno, Italy. (Photo by Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)

Recent statistics

Caruso scored five goals and contributed to 10 more for her teammates last season, earning her a spot in the Serie A Femminile Team of the Season. This season, she continues to impress as Juventus' most prolific player in progressive passes of the ball (131). She has completed 271 out of 314 of her short passes (ranging from 5-15 yards) and 302 out of 352 medium passes (between 15-30 yards). Notably, 36 of these passes have resulted in goal-scoring opportunities, establishing her as the top performer in the Juventus squad in this regard.

Looking deeper into her defensive statistics so far this season, Caruso boasts the most tackles won (28), and sits fourth (behind three defenders) for most interceptions made (15, behind Cecilia Salvai and Martina Lenzini, both 16). This, for a goalscoring midfielder, demonstrates how multifaceted her game is. 

Looking into her international stats, you see similar consistency. She scored the most amount of goals for her country (2) in the 2023 Women's World Cup tournament, netting a brace against South Africa. The Italian does not shy away from big occasions. The mental side of football is often an underrated factor of the game, but to perform at a high, consistent level when your club and country need you most, is a skill that many footballers struggle with. 

Arianna Caruso of Italy celebrates after scoring her team's second goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group G match between South Africa and Italy at Wellington Regional Stadium on August 02, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Arianna Caruso of Italy celebrates after scoring her team's second goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group G match between South Africa and Italy at Wellington Regional Stadium on August 02, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The Future of Caruso

Arianna Caruso signed a two-year extension in 2023, keeping her a Juventus player until June 2025; honestly, I do not see her leaving the Bianconere anytime soon. Juve is completely aware of the natural talent and leadership she brings to the Turin side, and just like for the national team, Caruso is one of the first names on the teamsheet. 

Although as a big fan of the Women's Super League (WSL), I would love to see her make the switch across the continent. I don't believe many teams in the WSL would not start her. However, I also believe her remaining in Italy will increase the popularity of women's football there. She is a star of the Italian game and is very quickly becoming the poster girl for female footballers across the country.

Despite Juventus struggling through a rough patch this season, Caruso remains a stable, sure thing for the Bianconere. With any luck, Juventus will have a better run at the Champions League next season. Roma have shown such grit in the tournament this season, just as Juve did seasons before. 

There is still so much potential for this player and having watched her play for club and country religiously this season, I can confidently say she could soon become one of the best midfielders in the continent. 

Because, genuinely, the talent of Arianna Caruso is indisputable.