Andy Bangu (Vicenza): The 19-year-old Congolese midfielder (whose birthday is Tuesday, so auguri, Andy!) has seized a starting role in the Lanerossi midfield from the get go. He assisted the club’s season opening goal in league play with a gloriously well-measured pass over the top of the defense.
Such an auspicious start has seen manager Roberto Colombo keep the youngster busy; he’s appeared in all but one match across 8 matches thus far, and played the full 90 for the first time in a 2-1 win over Fano yesterday. With Vicenza streaking out to 5th place in Serie C-B (and with a game in hand that could rocket them into first), Bangu’s star is rising rapidly. With his athleticism and ability to drive forward from midfield, he’s the sort of player that the Viola tifosi are going to adore in the coming years.
Simone Minelli (Trapani): The 20-year-old winger is starting to come on strong for the Sicilians, opening his account last week within 5 minutes of coming on as a sub with a nicely taken header, of all things. It’s way more impressive when you realize that he’s just 166 cm (5’5).
Perhaps this will be a springboard for the U20 international, as all 4 of his appearances this term have been off the bench, although manager Alessandro Calori may be content to continue with a formula that’s seen the Granata up to 5th in the table. Still and all, it’s good to see Minelli rolling again after a lost season, so even if it’s just substitute appearances and the odd goal, we’ll take it.
Joshua Pérez (Livorno): The 19-year-old American winger played 29 minutes in the 2-3 win over Pontedera this week, marking his longest appearance of the year. It gives him 45 minutes over 3 matches, all off the bench. While he hasn’t yet set the world alight, he seems to be settling in well enough for a kid on his first foray into the professional game. He’s also operating on the left wing, rather than his preferred right, so his natural instinct to cut inside is rather limited now. However, we remain very optimistic about him, not least because he’s under the watchful eye of former Fiorentina defender Andrea Sottil, whose son Riccardo was one of Josh’s teammates with the Primavera last year. It’s a good, nurturing spot for the diminutive attacker from LA, and we think his influence in Leghorn will grow as the season wears on.
Amidu Salifu (Vicenza): The 25-year-old Ghanaian midfielder hasn’t had as easy a time in Veneto as Bangu. The notoriously injury-prone midfielder is at the last chance saloon here, as his contract expires this summer, and he hasn’t yet done enough to justify Pantaleo Corvino swooping in with an extension. Unable to unseat veteran Marco Romizi or Atalanta loanee Isnik Alimi in the engine room, he’s only made one start, although he’s at least come off the bench 3 other times. It’s a hard fall for a player who broke into Serie A as a teenager, but his perpetually exploding knees have doomed a once-promising career. For his sake, we hope that he gets one more shot and becomes the player he might have been.
Mattia Trovato (Cosenza): The 19-year-old winger hasn’t made an appearance for the Silani yet, and hasn’t even been named in the matchday squad for the past three games. It’s a bit disappointing for a player who netted 7 times and set up 4 more in 20 matches for the Primavera last year, but there are a couple of reasons for optimism. First of all, manager Piero Braglia’s 3-4-1-2 system doesn’t really use wingers, limiting Mattia’s chances to make an impact. However, he’s a bright lad and has filled in through the middle and even as a striker for the Viola youth, so it shouldn’t take him too long to adapt to a new position. Second, the Lupi are terrible, with just 5 points from 7 matches. If that poor form continues, Braglia may be forced to try out something new, and Trovato could be that something. It’s been a downer thus far, but there’s a lot of calcio yet.