Serie A and Serie B
Maxwell Acosty (Latina): The 24-year-old Ghanaian winger slid in behind the defense on a free kick to easily slot home in Saturday's 2-2 draw against 17th-placed Salernitana, bringing his tally on the season to 4, along with 3 assists. He's started 13 of 14 games for Latina, mostly on the right wing, but has spent some time at striker in manager Mario Somma's 4-3-3. Long touted as a prospect, maybe Maxwell is finally breaking through under the tutelage of club captain Rubén Olivera and oh my god I can't believe I just wrote that phrase. (Acosty's goal is at 1:04 in the video)
Filippo Bandinelli (Latina): After a brief run in the squad through the end of October, the 20-year-old Florence-born winger has dropped back out of Somma's plans, failing to make his way into the match day squad for the past three fixtures. With Latina sitting in 13th and seemingly set to stay in Serie B, giving the youngster a run probably won't hurt anything; perhaps brighter days are ahead.
Joshua Brillante (Como): The 22-year-old Australian midfielder and right-back spent Saturday's 2-0 loss at Pro Vercelli on the bench. He got 23 minutes in the 2-2 draw at Virtus Entella two weeks ago, but that's his last action. On the year, he's started 3 games and been subbed into 4, collecting a couple of yellow cards. With the Lariani sitting in last place, he faces a struggle to break into Gianluca Festa's starting eleven.
Leonardo Capezzi (Crotone): The 20-year-old midfield general continues to star for the second-place Squali, starting in their 3-0 win against Ternana on Saturday. He also notched his first assist of the season two weeks ago in the 3-1 win over Avellino (1:17 in the video). On the season, he's appeared in all 14 matches, starting 12, and is one of manager Ivan Juric's first names on the team sheet. Already impressing with the Italian U20 team, he could be ready for the big time sooner rather than later.
Nicolò Fazzi (Virtus Entella): The 20 year old played the first 79 minutes of Saturday's 1-1 draw against Virtus Lanciano, bringing him to 10 starts and 1 substitute appearance in 12 games. Manager Alfredo Aglietti continues to deploy him in central midfield rather than on the wing, so he could be making a permanent positional switch. If nothing else, the added versatility increases his odds of breaking into Fiorentina's lineup next year.
Cedric Gondo (Ternana): The 18-year-old Ivorian attacker played the first 67 minutes in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Crotone. On the year, he's started 5 games and been subbed into 2 others. He's yet to score, but does have an assist. All his starts have been the past five games for the Fère and have been from the right wing, rather than at his preferred striker spot. He's at least won the trust of manager Roberto Breda; now it's a matter of going the full ninety (he's yet to finish a game) and start scoring.
Gianluca Mancini (Perugia): The 19-year-old central defender spent Saturday's 4-0 win against Brescia on the bench, as he's wont to do. He hasn't seen the pitch since September for the eleventh place Grifoni, with former Viola fullback and club captain Gianluca Comotto preferred. If he hasn't yet been able to convince manager Piepaoli Bisoli that he deserves a place, it may take an injury or two for him to see the pitch.
Amidu Salifu (Perugia): The 23-year-old Ghanaian midfielder continues to be frozen out of the squad, not even making the bench for 9 of the past 10 games. It's unclear what he's done to fall out of Bisoli's good graces, but the future is starting to look grim indeed for the once promising player.
Ryder Matos (Carpi): The versatile 22-year-old Brazilian attacker went the distance in Carpi's 1-2 loss to Chievo Verona on Sunday, playing from his now-typical right wing. After a blistering preseason and first few games, he's slowed down a bit; as opponents get more game film to study, Carpi is less able to take anyone by surprise. He hasn't scored since 3 October against Torino (he's got 2 goals in Serie A and 2 in the Coppa Italia to give him 4 in 14 games), but manager Fabrizio Castori is unlikely to drop one of his most dangerous attackers.
Lorenzo Venuti (Brescia): The 20-year-old fullback and U20 international was sent off in the 41st minute in the 4-0 reverse at Perugia, getting a straight red for a really bad foul (0:44 into the video). However, he's still played the full ninety minutes in all but one match for the eighth-place Leonessa, and manager Roberto Boscaglia will probably bring him right back into the squad after his suspension.
Luca Zanon (Virtus Entella): The 19-year-old left-back and U20 international has been frozen out of Aglietti's squad for the past month. Fellow 19-year-old leftback Cheik Keita, who's owned by Virtus Entella, has been handed the starting berth instead. At the risk of confusing causation and correlation, the Diavoli Neri have improved dramatically since Zanon's benching, so he may not get another chance this season.
Lower Italian leagues
Alessandro Bacci (Pisa): The 20-year-old goalkeeper was on the bench for Monday's 1-2 win at SPAL. After starting the season as manager Gennaro Gattuso's number one, he's been dropped for the past three matches in favor of Chievo Verona loanee Matteo Brunelli. As the third-place Torri have six points from their last three matches, Bacci may have lost his starting spot permanently.
Lorenzo Bardini (Prato): The 19 year-old keeper has spent the entire season on the bench behind 24-year-old Atalanta loanee Francesco Rossi. With the Lanieri in ninth place, manager Alessio de Petrillo probably isn't going to shake things up.
Marco Berardi (Pordenone): The 19-year-old midfielder notched his first assist with a nice cross for the opener in Sunday's 1-4 win at Reggiana. He's seized a spot in manager Bruno Tedino's first eleven, starting the past four matches for the 8th-place Neroverdi. He's now made 6 starts, with 2 appearances of the bench, and, given the team's form since his increased involvement, he may retain his spot for the rest of the year.
Nicolò Gigli (Lecce): The 19-year-old center-back dropped out of the squad for Sunday's scoreless draw against Matera. After four straight starts in October and November, manager Piero Braglia has opted for a more experienced back three. At least Gigli (who has to become a Fiorentina starter just for his name, right) now has experience playing in a variety of defenses; he'll probably make some more spot starts through the year.
Axel Gulin (Pordenone): The 19-year-old winger spent the big win against Reggiana on the bench. He's only made one appearance all year, as a substitute; as an out-and-out winger, he doesn't really fit into Tedino's 4-3-1-2. Perhaps he'll learn to drop further back into the midfield or to work in a more central role, but as things stand, he's unlikely to make much impact this season.
Saverio Madrigali (Arezzo): The 20-year-old centerback played the full ninety minutes in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Siena. He's seized his opportunity, starting the past seven games for the Amaranti, and has shown enough versatility to play all across the back line in manager Enzio Capuano's 3-5-2. With a total of 8 starts, with a goal and a yellow card, Madrigali is making a statement that he may be ready for a step up.
Diego Peralta (Pisa): The 19-year-old Argentinean attacker spent the SPAL match on the bench. He's now made 1 start and 7 substitute appearances for the Torri, notching a goal and an assist. While Gattuso clearly considers him a supersub, he's developing nicely.
Jacopo Petriccione (Pistoiese): The 20-year-old defensive midfielder played the final 29 minutes of the 0-1 defeat to Ancona. He's only started 2 games for the fifteenth-place Aranciati, but he's been subbed into 6; since he always seems to enter games when his team is searching for a goal, perhaps manager Massimo Alvini views him as more of a deep playmaker than a destroyer.
José María Basanta (Monterrey--Mexico): The 31-year-old center-back kneed in the consolation goal in the 1-3 loss at Toluca (1:16 in the video). He's back and doing well for the Rayados, even captaining the side in their most recent match. Overall, he's now played every minute of a rather disappointing Clausura, so manager Antonio Mohamed should lean on the club management to keep the big Argentine, despite some dodgy performances.
Steve Leo Beleck (CFR Cluj--Romania): The 22-year-old Cameroonian striker was an unused substitute in Saturday's scoreless draw with CSMS Iasi. He's been bought off the bench for the past three games after an eleven-game run in the first eleven. Manager Francisc Dican has opted for Spanish striker Christian Lopez up top instead. With 2 goals and 2 assists (plus a goal in the Romanian cup), hopefully Beleck will start finding the back of the net again, as time may be running out for him.
Mario Gómez (Beşiktaş --Turkey): The 30-year-old German striker scored a penalty (2:43 in the video) in 2-0 win against Sivasspor. That brings his total to 9 goals in 12 matches (10 starts), as well as another goal in 4 Europa League matches. The big German is fresh off a recall to the German national team, firing on all cylinders, and seems to be settling in nicely with the Black Eagles, who should make his loan move permanent for about 7 million euros, although they may turn around and sell him to Manchester United for nearly three times that.
Ianis Hagi (Viitorul Constanta--Romania): The 17-year-old Romanian attacker played the final 12 minutes of Sunday's 2-2 draw at Tirgu Mures. He's now started 14 games for the second-place Puștii lui Hagi and subbed into 2 more, scoring once and assisting once. He's also been the club captain all year. While the first-team experience is an undeniable positive, playing under his legendary father Gheorghe Hagi could lead to some bad habits. Of course, it'll be awhile until we see exactly how young Ianis ends sup, but he's certainly on the right track thus far.
Rafał Wolski(KV Mechelen--Belgium): The Polish attacker turned 23 this month (happy birthday, Rafał!), but hasn't seen more playing time: he's spent the past two games on the bench. He's racked up 4 starts and 5 substitute appearances and has yet to score. Manager Aleksandar Jankovic seems to view him as more of a sub, only starting him when injuries hit the squad. With the Malinois just 3 points above the drop zone, Jankovic probably won't reshuffle his squad to favor a mercurial young attacker; while it's not as bad as last year, it may be something of another lost season for Wolski.