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Loanee reports: Serie C

The third tier is a good spot to get your feet wet, and that’s what these youngsters are doing.

Atalanta BC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
It’s been a minute.
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Serie C

Andy Bangu (Matera): The 22-year-old Congolese midfielder has jumped right into life in Basilicata, starting all but 1 match for il Bue and coming off the bench in that one. It’s pretty impressive, as he didn’t join the team until 30 June of this year, but he’s clearly made an impression on manager Eduardo Imbimbo. We’re not too surprised here, honestly, as the little dynamo is a perfect fit in a midfield three—such as the one in Imbimbo’s 3-5-2—as that gives him the freedom to charge forward with and without the ball and make himself a pest. He hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet yet, but that’s hardly an indictment with the whole team struggling; they’ve only managed 4 goals, while allowing 10. That second number is where Bangu has a chance to really show some improvement to the brass in Florence: if he can demonstrate some growth in the defensive phase without sacrificing his attacking talents, he could earn a late contract extension, which is very much what I would like to see.

Giuseppe Caso (Cuneo): The 19-year-old winger, who spent most of last year on the bench with the Primavera as the likes of Riccardo Sottil blocked his path to playing time, must be relishing his opportunities on the pitch this year. He’s made 4 appearances already, getting himself sent off against the Juventus U23 side, but has yet to score. However, despite the red card, manager Cristiano Scazzola has stuck with him, bringing him in off the bench—his usual role—in the two matches since his return. The Aquile have struggled for goals, though, scoring just 4 this term, so Caso could secure himself a starting berth with a few good performances.

Petko Hristov (Ternana): The 19-year-old Bulgarian centerback has started both matches he’s been available for the Rossoverdi, although he’s missed the past two matches due to international duty with the U21s, where his partner in central defense is his twin brother Andrea. It might seem strange that Ternana’s only played 4 matches thus far, but it’s all tied up with the chaos in Serie B this year, so it’s just another snafu. Anyways, Hristov’s doing just fine operating on the left of a back three. As a big, burly defender, the rough-and-tumble of Serie C suits him just fine, and he should have a productive year in Terni.

Marco Marozzi (Fermana): The 19-year-old winger is another case like Caso who saw his path to minutes blocked with the Primavera due to the presence of some bigger names up the pecking order. Unlike his old teammate, though, he’s found opportunities tougher to come by in Fermo. He’s made just one appearance of the bench in Serie C thus far, although he was also involved in the Coppa matches until the Canarini were bounced last month. He’s a tough fit in manager Flavio Destro’s 3-4-1-2, which requires defensive contributions from the wide men that Marozzi won’t be used to making, so this is definitely more of a learning year than anything else.

Luca Mosti (Arezzo): The 20-year-old rightback has yet to make an appearance with the Amaranti, stuck as he is behind more polished products Alessio Luciani and Davide Zapella. The goal for him should be to unseat the latter, who’s another 20-year-old on loan, as the primary backup to Luciani, who’s way ahead of both in the pecking order. Mosti doesn’t have an easy path this year, but at least it’s a clear one, and he can count on support from some familiar faces as well.

Pierluigi Pinto (Arezzo): The 20-year-old centerback has been one of the standout performers for the Amaranti this year, playing every minute of every match and even tallying an assist in the Coppa tie against Lucchese. Operating as the left-sided central defender in manager Alessandro dal Canto’s 4-3-1-2, he’s settled in immediately, reminding everyone why he was such a star for the Primavera. With Arezzo sitting in 3rd place in the early going and looking like they could be real contenders in the promotion battle, his spot should be secure for as long as he’s not simply terrible. Basically, he’s doing exactly what you’d hope he would.

Amidu Salifu (Arezzo): The 26-year-old Ghanaian midfielder—who’s now the longest-tenured player on the Viola books, even if he hasn’t played with the senior side since 2012—has played all of 15 minutes for the Tuscans this year, coming on to see out a 2-0 win over Siena. It’s not a good sign for the former youth international, but it’s consistent with his career over the past few seasons. Whether it’s injuries (and that’s almost certainly the root cause) or something else, he’s a far cry from the player who piled up 25 Serie A appearances starting as a teenager. By now he certainly knows that, when his contract with Fiorentina runs out next year, he’ll be a free agent, so he should feel some urgency to impress dal Canto enough for Arezzo to trigger his clause. It’s a damn shame, really, as he was one of the most exciting prospects to come out of the academy in years before various knee ailments sapped him of his explosiveness and confidence. But the player who thrilled us so much is still in there, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll burst back out this year.

Luca Zanon (Robur Siena): The 22-year-old leftback seems to finding his way in Serie C again after a lost season last year, tallying 4 appearances for the Bianconeri this year, including his first start yesterday in a 1-1 draw against Cuneo. He’s showcased some heretofore unknown versatility, deputizing on the right side when necessary. That he’s at least competing with Empoli loanee Marco Imperiale is a good thing, as Zanon’s contract is up at the end of the year and he’s unlikely to see Pantaleo Corvino hand him an extension. He knows, then, that this year is an audition for the rest of his career. If he can keep performing at this level, he’ll certainly draw some interest; after all, he’s still young and was a part of Italy’s youth setup just 2 years ago.