Travel is capable of broadening your horizons and offering unexpected opportunities. Back in 2004 when Kristjan Asllani was just two years old he made the first major journey of his life as his family emigrated from their hometown of Elbasan, Albania to Buti in central Italy. It was in this small Tuscan town that the youngster’s family settled down and Kristjan went on to pick up an accent which identifies him as being from this region.
As a child Kristjan would rarely be seen without a football, never missing a chance to have a kickabout. His deep love and passion for the game led him to joining Butese at the age of five.
Truly gifted footballers possess an ability which makes them stand out from the crowd. In Kristjan’s case his exquisite ball skills caught the eye of his youth team coaches, a product of countless hours of honing his skills. Two-footed footballers are a rarity and even in the nascent stages of Kristjan’s development he left onlookers open-mouthed as he took corners using his left or right foot from both sides of the pitch.
His youth team debut was crowned with a goal to remember; a lovely run followed by a fantastic finish. Kristjan’s unwavering dedication and consistent hard work saw him go on to join the Empoli academy aged 10. The young Albanian then went from strength to strength there, in an ideal environment for his football to flourish.
It seemed Kristjan was always destined to end up at Inter; there have been a surprising number of coincidences throughout both his personal and professional life. He shares his birthday with the club – 9 March – and in 2020/21 his Empoli side knocked out Inter in the semi-finals of the closing stages of the Primavera season with Kristjan weighing in with a goal. He then went on to net in the final against Atalanta as Empoli triumphed 5-3.
Kristjan had already made his first team debut by this point, back in January 2021 against Napoli in the Coppa Italia. He was then all set up to have a breakthrough campaign in 2021/22. While Kristjan started the season with Primavera, bagging three goals in the Youth League, he then made the permanent step up to the first team with coach Aurelio Andreazzoli showing great faith in the dynamic Albanian. His second game as a starter for Empoli came in the Coppa Italia against Inter, in which he provided Nedim Bajrami with an assist. He became a lynchpin of the Tuscans' midfield and, in what was yet another twist of fate, he scored his first Serie A goal at San Siro against Inter.
After all of the aforementioned, Asllani and Inter’s paths have now converged and he becomes the second-ever Albanian player to represent the Nerazzurri, following in the footsteps of Rey Manaj. Despite his tender years Kristjan has already made his debut with the Albanian national team and is desperate to make an impact at his new club and show how far he has come.