Matias Fernandez (AC Milan): The 30-year-old Chilean midfielder is finally fully healthy again and is settling in as the go-to option for a midfield substitute. Vincenzo Montella has used him 4 times this season, all off the bench; Mati’s been dinged for all the other matches. His technique, vision, and industry have endeared him to the Rossoneri, and they’ll probably spring for the €1 million fee to make his move permanent.
Jaime Baez (Spezia): The 21-year-old Uruguayan attacker has dropped to more of an impact sub role after beginning the year as the unquestioned starter on the left wing. He’s still stuck on the 1 goal since September, and his end product remains the only thing he really needs to work on. His pace, technique, confidence, and willingness to run remain exemplary, and he always seems to be just inches from notching a spectacular goal. Hopefully some of those near-misses will become goals soon and he’ll reclaim his spot in the first XI, because he’s got all the tools to be a real world-class forward.
Ricardo Bagadur (Benevento): The 21-year-old Croatian centerback is not having a good time in Campania. He’s only played 7 minutes for the Stregoni all year, those coming in a cameo in the opening match. He’s not been in the matchday squad for the past month; whether it’s injuries keeping him out or simply that manager Marco Baroni—recently mentioned by La Nazione as a possible Paulo Sousa replacement—simply doesn’t rate him.
Either way, it’s a big step back for a player who excelled in Serie B last year with Salernitana. With Benevento flying high in 3rd place, it’s unlikely that Baroni will turn to the former Croatian U18 international any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see if management leaves him there or opts to move him in January to a more congenial location. Adding insult to injury is that fact that former Viola prospect Michele Camporese sits ahead of him in the pecking order.
Gilberto (Latina): The 23-year-old Brazilian rightback is healthy again after missing nearly 2 months injured. He’s immediately made his way back into the starting lineup, although he’s playing on the right wing of a 3-4-3 or sometimes in an even more central role as a playmaker in a 3-4-2-1, which is rather farther forward than we expected. He’s looked lively thus far and made a pest of himself, but has yet to get in the goalscorers’ column. Still, it’s positive progress for a player whose time in Italy has largely been negative.
Jacopo Petriccione (Ternana): The 21-year-old defensive midfielder remains an automatic starter for the Feri, which is certainly a good thing. The bad news, though, is that the team sits in 17th, just 1 point above the relegation zone. Petriccione has been one of their better players, nestled in the heart of the midfield and moving the ball around quickly to jump-start attacks. However, his defensive game still needs quite a bit of development: his tackling is iffy at best (5 bookings in 16 matches), and he sometimes looks lost when shielding the backline. Another year or two apprenticing in the lower leagues and honing his craft is what he needs, along with some time in the weight room, as he’s a bit lightweight. However, his cleverness in possession is apparent, and he could be a useful cog for years to come.
Lorenzo Venuti (Benevento): The 21-year-old rightback is still first choice in his spot, whether that be as a rightback or in a more advanced wide midfield role. He also deputized as an emergency leftback last week. All in all, it’s been a very promising season for the U21 international; he’s only once across 17 appearances and 1,398 minutes. Defensively solid and with a bit of pace, he’s still a work in progress when going forward, but has the look of a solid long-term professional, although it may take another year or two for him to break into the senior side.
Steve Beleck (Umraniyespor—Turkey): The 23-year-old Cameroonian striker is now a dozen matches into his career in the Turkish second division and has yet to score. His strength and holdup play have been handy in bringing the rest of the side into the attack, but yikes. He’s started all 12 matches without finding the back of the net. Indeed, he’s played all but 23 minutes thus far. While his work rate and link up play are great, there simply isn’t room on most teams for a striker who doesn’t score. Poor Beleck is probably not going to have his contract renewed when it runs out in 2018.
Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt—Germany): The 23-year-old Croatian attacker is finally recovered from an ankle injury that cost him a month, but has lost his spot in the interim to former Viola prospect Haris Seferovic. Ante has settled in as an important attacking substitute for the Eagles, and will have to convince manager Niko Kovac that he deserves more responsibility from that role. Unfortunately, his penchant for bad tackles continue to earn him bookings—2 in just 173 minutes of Bundesliga action—so he still needs to settle down a bit too. It’s unclear if the Frankfurt outfit will pay the fee (believed to be around €1 million) to keep him around permanently.
Giuseppe Rossi (Celta Vigo—Spain): The 29-year-old Italian striker continues to feature prominently for the Celts off the bench in La Liga and as a starter in the Europa League. He did get his first two domestic starts last month, but did very little in them and surely remains behind the outstanding Iago Aspas and John Guidetti. As Celta probably don’t have the financial resources to keep all of those forwards around, Pepito’s long-term fate remains up in the air, and it’s not wholly inconceivable that he’ll end up back in Florence at the end of the season.
Andres Schetino (Sevilla—Spain): The 22-year-old Uruguayan defensive midfielder has dropped to the bench for Sevilla B over the past month. However, 4 of the team’s 5 losses have come in matches he hasn’t played, so he should be reinstated, at least a substitute, in short order. This sojourn away from the pitch, though, raises questions about his future in Spain, as perhaps Sevilla’s management is wondering if they want to pay the fee for him at the end of the year. That’s still far and away the most likely outcome, though; we’ve probably seen the last of him with Fiorentina.