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Loanee reports: Lega Pro and Serie D

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We’re seeing some promise from the Viola lads in the lower leagues.

Budding star.
@andybangu21 on Instagram

Lega Pro

Andy Bangu (Reggina): The 19-year-old Congolese midfielder continues to impress, notching his 3rd and 4th goals of the season a few weeks ago. The first was to halve the deficit at Juve Stabia which showed his typically intelligent movement, excellent close control, and a powerful finish.

He created the second by closing down a defender in possession, then easily rounding the keeper to slot home for the opener against Casertana.

He remains one of the most exciting players in the Fiorentina youth ranks and will get a long look at Moena next year, although he’ll probably end up spending the year in Serie B. Across all competitions, he’s started 20 matches and been subbed into an additional 8, scoring 5 goals from midfield and picking up 5 bookings and a red card. He was also recently rewarded for his form with his first call up to the DRC U20 squad, although he didn’t actually see the pitch. The future remains very bright for him.

Marco Berardi (Tuttocuoio): The 21-year-old midfielder continues to do work for the Neroverdi, appearing in his 10th straight match for the Neroverdi last Saturday (and 9 of those have been as a starter). He’s not the flashiest or most athletic player, but works hard and rarely loses his cool. He’s started 22 Lega Pro matches this year, notching a pair of goals and a pair of bookings. His ceiling probably isn’t as high as some of the other players on this list, but he’s the sort of player who’ll probably have a long and productive career as a professional, be that in the Lega Pro, Serie B, or (unlikely) Serie A.

Nicolò Gigli (Matera): The 21-year-old centerback keeps scrapping his way into manager Gaetano Auteri’s plans. He’s started 2 of the past 3 matches (his first 2 starts of the year) after spending a month on the bench. As the southerners boast the best attack in the league but just a middling defense, Auteri may be willing to give the youngster a few more chances, although the team sits 3rd in the table and may want to focus on continuity ahead of a promotion push. Still, though, it’s been a good step for Gigli, whose loan spell at Lecce failed miserably last year. It’s hard not to root for a player with such an apropos surname to succeed at Fiorentina, so the signs of life are certainly promising for the late bloomer.

Saverio Madrigali (Cosenza): The 22-year-old centerback has made just a single appearance since October, and that was a 28-minute cameo last month. His inability to push his way into the starting lineup of a midtable team with a middling defensive record is now officially a concern, especially as the Lupi brought in Empoli youngster Andrea Meroni on loan, indicating that young Saverio wasn’t even up to scratch as a reserve. His contract expires at the end of this year and we haven’t heard a peep about a renewal for him, so he may well be striking out on his own come June. It’s a shame and a real fall from grace for a player who was excellent in the Lega Pro just last year, but someone should pick him up pretty quickly.

Simone Minelli (AlbinoLeffe): The 20-year-old winger continues to operate as an energy sub rather than in the starter’s role we’d prefer to see him in, although that may not be entirely his fault. His instinct is to hug the touchline before cutting inside, but manager Massimiliano Alvini’s 3-5-2 formation doesn’t really have space for that; instead, the diminutive Minelli has been working as a striker, which clearly doesn’t suit him as well. However, his club form certainly isn’t putting off the Azzurini brass; Minelli recently got 7 minutes in the U20 match against Poland, which indicates how highly he’s regarded. If he’s still getting playing time despite the wealth of attacking talent in the peninsula right now, you know he could be special. He should be ready to break out next year.

Giuseppe Pandolfi (Pistoiese): The 20-year-old midfielder hasn’t yet made an appearance in this season, his first away from the Primavera. He was quite good in the youth ranks, so we’ll consider this more of an adjustment period than an indictment of his abilities. The real test will be how he does next season

Amidu Salifu (Mantova): The 24-year-old Ghanaian midfielder has seized a starting berth over the past few months, starting the past 6 matches and even finishing the last 4. Since his return from a broken hand at the start of the year, the Virgiliani have climbed out of the relegation places, and it’s hard not to see a correlation: they’ve lost twice in that span after losing 5 of the 8 matches he missed. The recent recipient of a contract extension that will tie him to Fiorentina until 2018, it’s nice to see him finally healthy and performing. As one of the few squad members left from Pantaleo Corvino’s first go-round, the Crow probably wants him to make it. If he can stay healthy for a season or two and regain his form—remember, he’s played 3 seasons in Serie A—he could be a wonderful addition to the squad at some point. But for now, it’d be nice to see him beat the doors of the Lega Pro for the rest of the year.

Luca Zanon (Pistoiese): The 20-year-old leftback is back in the saddle after missing nearly 2 months with a hip injury, starting the past 2 matches and lasting the full 90. On the year, that puts him up to 17 appearances (15 starts), in which he’s only collected a single booking. He’s got pace to spare and good technique, although he certainly needs to solidify his game before he’s ready for the next step, although helping the Arancioni climb out of the relegation zone and impressing new manager Gianluca Atzori is a good start. He’ll almost certainly spend another few years developing on loan before we can even consider him stepping up for the Viola, though.

Serie D

Filippo Boccardi (Imolese): The 19-year-old centerback continues to operate as an automatic starter for manager Francesco Baldini and has played all but 107 minutes possible in the league thus far. As the Rossoblu are first place in their division and sport the second-best defensive record in the table, it’s safe to say that he’s doing something right. He’s also been at rightback for the past 3 weeks, indicating an impressive positional flexibility; he’s now filled in at every spot in the back four. He should get a chance to strut his stuff in the Lega Pro next year, given his outstanding performance thus far.

Enea Sanna (Imolese): The 20-year-old rightback has fallen down the pecking order of late, possibly due to an injury he recently sustained in training. He did play 90 minutes as a defensive midfielder earlier this month, which was surprising, and has spent a good deal of time at leftback as well. On the season, he’s made 10 starts and 4 substitute appearances. He’s also demonstrated a concerning habit of picking up yellow cards, with 5 in 814 minutes of action. The January acquisition of former Bari Primavera captain and rightback Giuseppe Scalera casts his Viola future into doubt, so it’s hard to see what the future holds for Enea.