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Haley Bugeja sees Sassuolo move as a big step after sealing three-year deal

Haley Bugeja will be on the books of Serie A Femminile side Sassuolo Calcio as from the 2020/2021 season as she completed the move to the Italian club from Mġarr United.

Sixteen-year old Bugeja, who is represented by Sports Pro Management and Consultancy, has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Emilia-Romagna based club.

She will be following the path of fellow national team partners namely Nicole Sciberras (Juventus) and the new Lazio pair Emma Lipman and Rachel Cuschieri, who will be playing in Italy during the next campaign.

“It’s a much-needed step in my career,” Bugeja told the Times of Malta.

“I am very excited to embark on such a new journey at Sassuolo. Throughout all my years playing football, I have always strived to excel while making a lot of sacrifices in order to reach this level.

Now I have earned the chance to be part of a professional setup and experience the life of a football player – it is a huge experience for me.”

Bugeja added also that she is aware of the difficulty of the challenge that lies ahead, but she is keen in making an immediate impact at the Serie A club.

“It will be a challenging adventure for me but I have a lot of belief in my potential and I am willing to commit myself to make sure I fulfil my potential at Sassuolo.”

Sassuolo Femminile are one of the most respected sides in Italian women’s football, largely thanks to the fact that they are affiliated with the men’s side who also feature in Italy’s top-flight.

The Green and Black striped-team was having a solid season in the Serie A during the 2019/2020 campaign as before the coronavirus break, they were sitting sixth on 23 points. They were also set to play the second leg of the Coppa Italia quarter-final against Florentia San Gimignano, with whom Malta international Emma Lipman was featuring last season. 

Last season, Sassuolo hosted a number of high-profile players such as former Milan captain Daniela Sabatino and upcoming talents like Martina Lenzini, on loan from Juventus who will once again be playing with Sassuolo this year alongside former Fiorentina midfielder Alice Parisi who also joined the club’s cause in this transfer window.

Ex-Serie A player Gianpiero Piovani is their current coach after a successful spell at Brescia femminile, winning the Italian Super Cup in 2017. 

Also at youth level, Sassuolo were also on track for having a satisfactory campaign as after 17 games they were fourth on 32 points in Girone A – the same championship in which Sciberras will be playing in at Juventus Women this year. 

Sassuolo were also one of the participants in the second edition of the Viareggio Women’s Cup earlier this year, eventually won by Juventus.

Malta duties 

Despite her young age, Bugeja is tipped to be one of Malta’s best upcoming talents after making a name for herself with Mġarr United despite her young age. 

Speaking about how her playing style might differ in Italy, Bugeja underlined the fact that Italian football will help her improve most of her features as an offensive player.

“In the past three years between Mġarr United and Malta commitments, I saw a huge development in my game,” Bugeja explained.

“Rather than looking to improve a specific area, I am keen about stepping up my playing style overall, although I would like to improve certain characteristics such as the decision-making process and the game vision.”

She has a knack for being clinical and in fact, at age 15 she has already won both the U-19’s and senior league top scorer with the Greens while also claiming the 2019 MFA Women’s Player of the Year award. 

Her performances had also earned her a trial opportunity with Cyprus club Apollon Limassol, former employees of Malta international Rachel Cuschieri, last summer.

Before this campaign came to a premature end, Bugeja had already found the net 23 times in the senior league, in addition with the 50 goals scored in just the U-19’s championship.

Bugeja has also impressed on the international stage while representing Malta. She made her UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualifiers debut in the 2-1 win over Georgia, grabbing a goal and an assist. 

She was also instrumental against Bosnia-Herzegovina as despite Malta fell to a 3-2 defeat, with Bugeja managing to record assists in both goals. 

Her first competitive Malta goal was in a January friendly against Turkey. So far, she has collected six caps with two goals. 

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