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Loanee reports: Not in Italy

These four players have experienced pretty much the full spectrum of personal achievement this season.

Fluminense v Internacional - Brasileirao Series A 2018
Gilberto is ready for his close-up.
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Since we’ve covered the lads in Series A, B, and C, we figure we should catch you up on what’s going on with the dudes outside of Italy as well.

Sebastian Cristoforo (Getafe—Spain): The 25-year-old Uruguayan midfield destroyer has only found marginally more opportunities in the suburbs of Madrid than he did in Tuscany, playing a grand total of 24 minutes across 2 appearances so far. In fairness, it’s about what we expected going in, as Pepe Bordalás only uses two central midfielders; Nemanja Maksimović and Mauro Arrambarri were always going to be first choice and bring similar skillsets to Cristoforo, so it’s not a shocker that he can’t find space. It’s still unclear if this loan includes a fee to buy him, but it’s too early to see if the Azuolones would have any interest in exercising that option if it even exists. Corvino will certainly hope that’s the eventual outcome, though, as otherwise the Viola are on the hook for Cristoforo’s contract until 2021.

Gilberto (Fluminense—Brazil): The 25-year-old Brazilian rightback has enjoyed a career season with Vasco, scoring 3 goals and adding 3 assists across 18 appearances in all competitions. However, he suffered some serious damage to his knee in September and has been out ever since, although he may be closing in on a return in the coming weeks. It sounds like Tricolor are hoping to keep him around when his loan expires in January, and it’s doubtful that Corvino would stand in the way of a deal if the Brazilian outfit is willing to fork over a percentage any future proceeds from his sale or something. It’s a bit of a whimper of an end for a player we had high hopes for in Florence, but we’re glad he’s at least finding his feet again and seems to have reinvigorated his career.

Julián Illanes (Argentinos Juniors—Argentina): The 21-year-old Argentinean centerback hasn’t exactly made a splash in his return to his native soil; in fact, he has yet to make the match day squad and has mostly been training with the reserves. With el Bicho sitting second-bottom in the league, it’s unlikely that manager Ezequiel Carboni is going to blood an untested player as the team scraps for every point, which is too bad for Illanes. At least he has former Viola star Hernán Toledo around for company; the latter is actually a regular starter this year and may in fact exist. I honestly have no clue if he’s shown enough in training for Juniors to exercise their option to buy him, but since he’s probably not in Fiorentina’s plans for the future, it might be for the best if they did.

Rafik Zekhnini (Twente—Netherlands): The 20-year-old Norwegian winger is doing just fine in the Netherlands, where he’s locked down a role off the bench for Marino Pusic’s men; he’s appeared in every match thus far and even got a start against FC Eindhoven earlier this month. His goal came during a 4 minute cameo against Telstar, but showed him doing well to keep his spacing and avoid the linesman’s flag, as well as a very neat finish.

The following week, he assisted the winner against Jong PSV with this neat cutback.

And on Monday, he led the way in a 1-6 destruction of Jong Utrecht, chipping in with a goal and an assist. He’s quickly made himself a big part of this Tukkers squad and should be one of the key men as they seek promotion back to the Eredivisie. If he can maintain his current form, he should be able to grab a starting spot fairly soon. If he can keep it up from there, he could well play his way into Stefano Pioli’s plans next year.