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Which Viola youngsters should go out on loan?

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Oh yeah, there’s stuff going on at the club besides selling every player on the roster.

ACF Fiorentina v Pescara Calcio - Serie A
What has two thumbs and needs regular playing time? This guy.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Amidst all the doom and gloom of every player you ever loved leaving Fiorentina, it’s good to remember that some of them are supposed to leave. And then come back. And then become stars. I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes a spell away works wonders for a player. Look at Federico Bernardeschi, who broke into the spotlight with Crotone. Or Khouma Babacar, whose stint at Modena went a long way towards establishing him as a star.

Last season, the Viola sent 24 players out on loan. Most were youngsters not ready for the big time, although a few notable names (Giuseppe Rossi and Matías Fernández) also left town. This year, though, that number could wind up being a lot smaller, though, as Pantaleo Corvino oversees some serious changes to the senior squad that could push a bunch of new talent to the forefront. So let’s have a look at who’s a good candidate for some time away.

Goalkeepers

Bartłomiej Drągowski had a rough first season in Florence. The teenage sensation had already spent two years as the unquestioned number one for hometown outfit Jagiellonia Białystok, but didn’t make an appearance for his new employers. A knee injury kept him out for several months, but the addition of Marco Sportiello complicates matters even further. Without regular minutes, Fiorentina risks having a world-class talent stagnate and maybe even try to force his way out. Even as the backup to Sportiello, opportunities look few and far between. He’s a perfect candidate to take a year away, although he may want to stay and fight for a spot.
Good landing spots: Benevento, SPAL, any Serie B side that’s got a chance at promotion

Giacomo Satalino was supposed to make his first move away from Florence this past season, but the injury to Drągowski kept him in Florence instead as the third keeper. He’s got a bright future ahead of him if you believe Arsene Wenger, who’s made several attempts to sign him to Arsenal. He’s looked really good with the Primavera for the past couple of years and is definitely ready for the next step, preferably to a team that has a shaky situation between the sticks for a promising 18-year-old.
Good landing spots: A mid-table side in Serie C that won’t put too much pressure on him

Artem Makarov spent last year at Taranto, although an early injury to his knee kept him out of action for all but the first match of the season. It was some rotten luck for the Moscow-born 20-year-old, since some experts rate him as highly as Satalino, with whom he split reps for the Primavera. Another stretch in Serie C is probably his best option.
Good landing spots: Anywhere in Serie C where he won’t blow out his knee

Defenders

Nicolò Gigli had a disappointing season with Serie C outfit Matera, marking his second consecutive downer of a year away from Florence. Now 21 years old, he needs to go somewhere he’ll play enough for Corvino to evaluate him and figure out if he’s part of Fiorentina’s future. As of now, though, it doesn’t look good for a player whose surname alone should guarantee him a spot in the squad.
Good landing spots: Wherever he’ll get some minutes and a chance to show he can perform outside the Primavera, which probably means a return to the Serie C

Julián Illanes is now 20 years old and just got married. His big year isn’t even close to done, though, as he’s almost certain to get his first chance to play in a senior side somewhere. He’s not your classic Argentine centerback, as he possesses some class on the ball, although he’s not afraid of the dirty work either. As maybe the most promising defender in the Primavera last year, he needs lots of playing time to keep him on the upward path he’s been following since arriving in Italy last year.
Good landing spots: A Serie C team that could push for promotion and wants to do so by keeping the ball; maybe Livorno?

Ricardo Bagadur had a really rough season at Benevento, making a brief cameo in the opener and then never returning to the pitch. Adding insult to injury, former Viola prospect Michele Camporese was one of the players keeping him off the team sheet. It was an abrupt reversal from his 2015 campaign, in which he distinguished himself for an unimpressive Salernitana defense. While he may be called up to the senior side, the Croatian 21-year-old would be better served by regular minutes wherever he can find them.
Good landing spots: Wherever he’ll get the minutes to show us whether he’s the 2015 or the 2016 version of himself

Lorenzo Venuti, on the other hand, had a brilliant season for the Stregoni. He locked down the rightback spot, although he also deputized at leftback and occasionally even in a wide midfield spot. His attacking game isn’t all that impressive, but he motors forward admirably and has the defensive side of things figured out pretty darn well. Benevento wants to buy him while leaving Fiorentina a buy-back clause, but it’s already looking like the deal may fall through.
Good landing spots: Benevento would be perfect to give him some continuity and a taste of Serie A, but anywhere in the lower reaches of the table would be fine

Luca Zanon had a solid but unspectacular year with Tuscan outfit Pistoiese. Now 21 years old, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for the the former Azzurini leftback, as he hasn’t shown much over the past couple of years that would keep the Viola management interested in him as a long-term solution on the left flank. Wherever he ends up, here’s hoping that the switch flips on and he really gets it all together.
Good landing spots: Serie C

Midfielders

Luzayadio Bangu is perhaps the brightest spot in the Viola youth academy. After starring for Reggina in Serie C, he’s certainly ready for a bigger challenge. It’s not just us who think so; a host of Serie B teams are clamoring for a year of Andy on loan. He’s probably at his best in a midfield three, given the freedom to motor forward to join and occasionally even pass the strikers, although Fiorentina may want to see him develop some stronger defensive instincts as well. It doesn’t really matter where he goes, though, since he’s going to play ball and make opponents look stupid.
Good landing spots: Bari has already made inquiries, but Brescia or Empoli would also be pretty good

Abdou Diakhate looks way too big and strong to be just 18 years old, but here we are. There’s no question that he’s physically ready for Serie B, but it might be a bit much to ask a kid who’s never played outside the Primavera to make that step quite yet. Then again, he turned heads at Moena two years ago as a 16-year-old, so it could be that he’s completely ready for such a big step up. Like Bangu, he’s going to be a star, so let’s just enjoy him wherever he goes.
Good landing spots: Any club in Serie B or Serie C would be thrilled to have a big, powerful midfielder like him

Jacopo Petriccione is one of my favorite youth players in the system because nobody ever expects him to succeed, but he keeps meeting every challenge with style. He’s not the biggest or the strongest (in fact, he’s got the build of a whippet on a juice cleanse), but he’s smart, crafty, and passes the ball very nicely. After starting out as a regista, he’s slowly moved farther up the pitch. Due to his slender physique, he probably needs a destroyer along with him in the middle.
Good landing spots: Any team in Serie B that has a weight room

Amidu Salifu is in a weird spot. He’s one of two holdovers from the first Corvino era (along with Babacar), but he hasn’t really done much since then due to injury. He turns 25 this year, so it’s hard to forecast a whole lot of growth from him, but he’s already got experience as a Serie A starter from 2013 with Catania. He’s also versatile enough to have some value at some point as well. His contract runs out at the end of this year, so he needs to prove he’s still got something in the tank if he wants to stick around.
Good landing spots: Any team in Serie B that has a really good training staff

Ianis Hagi is going to be a very good player. Heck, he’s already a very good player. Sure, he only made 2 appearances with Fiorentina, but he was lethal with the Primavera, notching 5 goals and 3 assists in 13 appearances. The 18-year-old is used to playing against men a decade older than he is from his time back in Romania, so a move to Serie C or even Serie B makes sense.
Good landing spots: A low-scoring Serie B team that needs some magic, so maybe Salernitana, Bari, or Ascoli

Forwards

Jaime Báez is the spiritual successor to Josip Iličić: a player with all the right tools who has an unworldly knack for making the wrong decision again and again and again. His pace, technique, work rate, and willingness to pass and move are all fantastic, but his final ball is consistently awful. In two consecutive loan moves, he’s begun the year as a starter and then fallen out of favor. As Corvino continues the de-Pradezation of the club, Báez must be feeling the heat. His contract runs until 2020, but he could be shipped out much sooner if he can’t demonstrate some competency somewhere. Now 22 years old, the Uruguayan isn’t trying to live up to the Luis-Suárez-meets-Alexis-Sánchez hype anymore so much as trying to prove he can do anything right.
Good landing spots: Like Hagi, he needs to go somewhere that’ll give him plenty of time to sort himself out in Serie B, so an anemic attack like that of Bari, Salernitana, or Ascoli would be good; alternatively, a stint out of Italy might help too

Steve Beleck is another Corvinata from the previous regime, but he’s never appeared for the senior side. A strapping target man, the 24-year-old Cameroonian certainly looks the part, with quick feet and surprising skill, but he’s never been able to consistently put it all together; perhaps that’s why he’s played for 12 clubs since 2009. He always seems popular with his teammates and has spoken of his desire to stay in Florence, so maybe he just needs a couple of years in the same side to unlock his potential. Then again, his contract runs out at the end of the year, so he could be loaned to a team willing to buy him after the season.
Good landing spots: Given his rugged build, a League One side looking to play direct football seems a good bet

Jan Mlakar is an 18 year old Slovenian who’s already earned the moniker “the new Kalinić.” Clever with his movement and lethal in the area, he showed up on the Viola bench once this year, but mostly starred for the Primavera to the tune of 15 goals and 4 assists in 22 appearances. A Slovenian U19, he’s got a genuine chance of breaking into the Fiorentina first team at some point, although he’s still a bit raw. On the other hand, Stefano Pioli has reportedly been impressed, so perhaps Mlakar is readier than we’d thought.
Good landing spots: A Tuscan club in Serie B or Serie C where he’ll still be close enough to Florence to feel at home, but will have room to spread his wings a bit

Joshua Pérez is Fiorentina’s first American (Giuseppe Rossi is, for our purposes, Italian), and has even turned out for the senior side. A diminutive left-footed attacker who likes to cut in from the right but can play on either wing or through the middle, he’s a pacy dribbler and thrives on the counter. In 26 appearances with the Primavera, he tallied 11 goals and 7 assists. Given his small size and tender years, he’s probably not physically ready for Serie B yet, but a good year away could earn him a contract extension; his runs out in 2019, so getting him re-signed should be a priority. He’s very good.
Good landing spots: Any Serie C team that wants a dynamic attacker who’ll start the year as an impact sub and could grow into something more

Ante Rebić just can’t catch a break. His once-promising career has been derailed by a lack of chances—he broke into the senior side the same year that Fiorentina bought Mario Gómez and Rossi—and injury. The latter problem kept him off the pitch for Eintracht Frankfurt too much for them to redeem his loan last year. It may be for the best, though, as he’d be well-served by moving to a team that’ll use him as a striker, rather than on the wing, where he’s spent too much time. Now 23 years old, the Croatian may never be the star we thought he would be, but he could still be a useful player in the right situation. His contract runs out this year and he’s spoken of his preference for the Bundesliga, which may provide a clue.
Good landing spots: A bottom-half-of-the-league German team that wants a talented if unreliable forward for cheap