Serie A and Serie B
Filippo Bandinelli (Latina): The 20-year-old winger was an unused substitute in Saturday's surprising 1-0 win over Cesena. The two games previous, though, he made his first two appearances for the Nerazzurri, in losses to Ternana and Brescia. He's now played 63 total minutes in 2 appearances and been on the bench for another 4 games. Interestingly, he spent much of the Brescia match as a central midfielder, indicating a heretofore unseen versatility.
Joshua Brillante (Como): The 22-year-old Australian midfielder and right back played 23 minutes off the bench in the 2-2 draw at Virtus Entella. He's now started 3 matches for the Lariani, as well as making 4 substitute appearances, tallying a pair of yellow cards. He's been on the bench for the past 7 games, though, as Como slump to the bottom of Serie B; in what's shaping up as a desperate season for the team, manager Gianluca Festa could drop promising youngsters in favor of seasoned and known commodities.
Leonardo Capezzi (Crotone): The 20-year-old midfield general played all 90 minutes in a surprising 4-1 loss at Pescara, earning a late yellow card (his second on the year). On the year, he's started 9 games for the second-placed Pitagorici, coming off the bench in the other 2. He's scored 1 goal, and has played the full 90 minutes in all but 1 of those starts.
Nicolò Fazzi (Virtus Entella): The 20-year-old winger played the full ninety in the 2-2 draw against Como, earning a first-half booking; his tally is now 9 starts, along with 2 substitute appearances, for the 14th place Diavoli Neri. Manager Alfredo Aglietti has opted to move Fazzi to the middle of the park, using his dribbling and creativity in the center of the pitch for the past two months. Such versatility and trustworthiness (leaving a 20-year-old winger on a yellow card in for the entire match in a new position) speaks well for the youngster's future.
Cedric Gondo (Ternana): The 18-year-old Ivorian has come on strong the past month, most recently earning his third consecutive start on the wing in Saturday's unexpected 1-2 win at Pescara and playing 63 minutes. He's now totaled 4 appearances, notching the decisive assist against Latina two weeks ago. His inclusion in the first eleven has seen the previously moribund Fère win two of their last three and climb to 17th, just out of the relegation zone.
Gianluca Mancini (Perugia): The 19-year-old center back has remained on the bench for the 13th place Grifoni since making starting the 2-1 loss at Pescara. His previous appearance, in the Coppa Italia loss at AC Milan, was also unsuccessful; he started both of those matches, but was yanked at half time, and it seems he's yet to regain manager Pierpaolo Bisoli's trust. Whether he shows enough in training to get another chance this year will be worth monitoring.
Amidu Salifu (Perugia): The 23-year-old Ghanaian midfielder is finding life similarly difficult at the club. He hasn't featured in a match in nearly two months, although he at least clawed his way back onto the bench for Sunday's 2-0 win against Virtus Lanciano. After starting Perugia's first four matches (gathering three yellow cards), Bisoli dropped him completely, not even naming him in the match day squad. Hopefully his most recent inclusion is a sign that he's starting to earn back some of his manager's trust.
Ryder Matos (Carpi): The 22-year-old Brazilian (given how long he's been with Fiorentina, seems like he should be older) started Sunday's loss at Sassuolo on the bench. He played 25 minutes. This was the first match he hadn't started; whether it's a result of slumping form or of new manager Fabrizio Castori trying a 4-2-3-1 for the first time in hopes of salvaging a season in which the Biancorossi sit bottom of the table, remains to be seen; Matos is tied with Marco Boriello for the club lead in goals, with 2. He also suffered a brutal challenge in the area from Eros Pisano in the Hellas Verona match which went uncalled and left his ankle looking like this.
Lorenzo Venuti (Brescia): The 20-year-old full back played the entire 0-4 loss at Novara. While that may be a low point, he's started every one of his 11 matches with the ninth place Rondinelle, going the distance in each one. He's been booked twice, but manager Roberto Boscaglia clearly likes what he sees in the youngster, who can play on either side of the defense. Should his form continue, he has an outside shot of playing for Fiorentina next year.
Luca Zanon (Virtus Entella): The 19-year-old left back wasn't in the squad for the draw with Como, which marks his second straight week frozen out; he was in the squad every week previously, totaling 2 starts and 2 substitute appearances. The reason, perhaps, the ascendance of fellow young left back Cheik Keita, who is owned outright by Diavolo Neri; it's not unreasonable to imagine that Aglietti prefers to develop his club's player over a loanee.
Lower Italian leagues
Alessandro Bacci (Pisa): The 20-year-old goalkeeper dropped to the bench for the 3-0 win against L'Aquila, which seems odd, since he'd started every other match this season for the third-place Rossoblù. Whether it was just a matter of manager Gennaro Gatusso (yes, that one) rotating his squad, or emblematic of a bigger change remains to be seen. One might think that the first choice keeper, who's kept a clean sheet in 4 of 9 matches and helped the team to a promotion play-off spot, would be undroppable, but it's hard to tell with Gatusso. On the plus side, Bacci hasn't been reported liquidated yet, so he can't entirely be on his manager's bad side.
Lorenzo Bardini (Prato): The 19-year-old goalkeeper was on the bench for the 0-1 win at Rimini. He's been on the bench for every game this season, so at least manager Alessio de Petrillo seems to view him as the top backup. With the Lanieri safely in the mid-table at 10th, it'll probably take injury or a catastrophic loss of form for Bardini to see the pitch this season.
Marco Berardi (Pordenone): The 19-year-old midfielder played the full ninety in Saturday's scoreless draw at Padova. He's now gone the distance in the past two games for the eighth place Ramarri after spending a month on the bench. He's now made 4 starts (including one as a left-sided midfielder) and 2 substitute appearances, although consecutive spots in the first eleven mean that manager Bruno Tedino could be coming around to the player.
Nicolò Gigli (Lecce): The 19-year-old center back started the 2-1 loss at Catanzaro and went the distance. He's now made 5 starts and 1 substitute appearance for the seventh place Giallorossi, and, after spending a month on the bench, seems to have regained manager Piero Braglia's trust.
Axel Gulin (Pordenone): The 20-year-old winger stayed on the bench in the Padova draw. He's made just one appearance, as a late cameo in the loss to Lumezzane last month, and doesn't seem to have earned Tedino's trust yet, as the manager has left him as an unused substitute in every game but the one.
Saverio Madrigali (Arezzo): The 20-year-old center back started the 1-1 draw at Teramo and played the full ninety minutes. After dropping to the bench for a month, he's reentered manager Ezio Capuano's good graces, starting the past 4 games and scoring the opener against Pontedera by heading home his own rebound off a corner.
He's now started 5 games for the Amaranto, going the distance in four, and scored once. He's played at his natural center back, and also started two games at right back. This versatility may stand him in better stead than his movie star looks; hopefully, it will keep him in the starting eleven for the rest of the season and prepare him for a significant role with Fiorentina in the future.
Diego Peralta (Pisa): The 19-year-old Argentine attacker played the final 9 minutes of the 3-0 win over L'Aquila and managed to get on the scoresheet with an assist to Matteo Ricci. He's made 1 start for the Torri, although Gatusso seems to prefer him as a supersub in the last half hour; he's featured 6 times from the bench, as well as starting both games in the Coppa Italia. In his 340 minutes, he has a goal and and assist, mostly playing on the right wing and cutting onto his stronger left foot. Hopefully, another successful (albeit brief) outing will push him further into Pisa's plans going forward.
Jacopo Petriccione (Pistoiese): The 20-year-old defensive midfielder remained on the bench for the surprising 1-2 loss to Maceratese. He's made 1 start and 5 substitute appearances for the 14th place Arancioni, collecting 3 yellow cards in just 150 minutes. As his club struggles in the relegation playoff places, manager Massimiliano Alvini may opt for more experienced players ahead of unproven youngsters, so the powerful young midfielder may find regular playing time hard to come by.
José María Basanta (Monterrey--Mexico): The 31-year-old Argentine center back was left out of the squad in the 2-2 draw against León. He hasn't featured once in the clausura; with the eighth place Rayados struggling for form, he could return to the setup at some point, but it doesn't seem immediately likely. Whether he's nursing injuries or at odds with manager Antonio Mohamed, it seems more and more likely that Monterrey might decline his option and send him back to Florence. The decision to shuffle him out suddenly looks a lot more shrewd.
Steve Leo Beleck (CFR Cluj--Romania): The 22-year-old Cameroonian striker played the second half of Saturday's 2-2 draw at Voluntari, picking up a yellow card in the 69th minute. This makes 3 straight appearances off the bench, after a run eleven games as a starter. He has 2 goals and 2 assists, although he hasn't netted since 4 October. Hopefully, manager Fransisc Dican will recall him to the starting lineup and get him back in the goals for the ninth place Feroviari, as the rangy front man seemed to start the season strong before fading.
Mario Gómez (Beşiktaş--Turkey): The 30-year-old German striker played 85 minutes in Sunday's 0-1 win at Bursaspor. He's in the form of his life right now, having scored 8 goals in 7 starts and 2 substitute appearances for the top of the table Kara Kartallar. Whether manager Senol Günes has figured out how to unlock the prolific hit man's talents, or whether it's just a change in scenery, Marione is back in form and must be hoping for an international recall. Beşiktaş are surely thrilled with the player and will doubtless pay the approximately 7 million euros to secure his services permanently.
Ianis Hagi (Viitorul Constanta--Romania): The 16-year-old Romanian attacker played 71 minutes at his preferred attacking midfield slot in the loss to leaders Astra Giurgiu on Friday. He's now started 14 games for the second place Puștii lui Hagi as an attacking midfielder or winger, scoring 1, assisting 1, and collecting 3 bookings. While it may raise some eyebrows that a teenager is captaining the side, his father and club manager Gheorghe Hagi seems to be immune to accusations of nepotism; it works out for Fiorentina, since young Ianis will apparently keep getting top-flight minutes for the foreseeable future.
Rafał Wolski (KV Mechelen--Belgium): The 23-year-old Polish attacking midfielder spent 1-0 loss at KV Kortrijk on the bench. He's begun to find his way this season after a lost year, making 4 starts and 5 substitute appearances for the Malinois. His only contribution on the scoresheet is a yellow card. Just convincing manager Aleksandar Jankovic that he deserves a job is promising, but he may never fulfill the hype that surrounded him when he arrived in Florence.
See anyone we missed? Want to sound off on how wrong our assessments are? Expecting one of these players to break through this year or next? Let us know in the comments.