Andy Bangu (Matera)
The 21-year-old Congolese midfielder is toiling away in Sicily, although he doesn’t have much to show for it right now. In his 9 appearances (6 of which are starts), he’s yet to score or assist, but that’s hardly astonishing given the context. Il Bue is dead last in the league right now, although that’s partially due to an 8-point deduction. Still, when your points total is -1, something has gone awfully awry. Manager Eduardo Imbimbo has quite a job on his hands if he wants to keep the Sicilians in Serie C, and it looks like he’s gone very defensive; with just 7 goals scored through 9 matches, the defense—14 conceded—has been the priority. That doesn’t even remotely play to Bangu’s strengths, which is too bad; when he’s given license to motor forward in midfield, he’s simply electric. It sure looks like it’ll wind up being a wasted year for one of my favorite players, although if he develops some better defensive instincts, he could very well prove to Pantaleo Corvino that he deserves some more time on the books. With a contract that runs out in 2020, he’s racing the clock for his Viola future. I really, really, really hope he wins.
Giuseppe Caso (Cuneo)
The 19-year-old winger remains a key cog for the Aquile, having appeared in every contest he’s been eligible for—he did sit out one due to a red card suspension. However, he’s ticking along nicely as a wide attacker in Cristiano Scazzola’s 3-4-3ish shape; he’s only got one assist so far, but he’s looked lively enough. Scazzola’s not likely to change anything up soon, either, as his charges have surged to 10th in the table (within the promotion playoff spots), which is quite an achievement for a team that barely avoided the trap door last year. We’re confident that Caso is thrilled with his chances, given that he never really featured for the Primavera due to some highly touted prospects above him in the pecking order, but he’s certainly reminding everyone that he’s hardly chopped liver. I’ve never understood that expression, as liver is delicious, but regardless, he could play his way into the Fiorentina’s long-term plans if he continues on this track and shows some progress through the season.
Petko Hristov (Ternana)
The 19-year-old Bulgarian centerback hasn’t had much to do with the Rossoverdi of late, although it’s not entirely performance-based. He missed 2 matches last month while on international duty, and then missed another last week due to an illness. This absenteeism has seen him drop out of manager Luigi di Canio’s XI, although we don’t doubt that Hristov is fully capable of regaining his spot once he’s settled in a bit. Unfortunately, that won’t be right now, as he’s just been called up for the Bulgaria U21s; that’s certainly encouraging, seeing as he’s skipping the U20 level altogether, even if it means leaving his twin brother Andrea—whom he partnered in central defense with the U19s—behind. On the domestic front, though, it’s a long season in Serie C, and we’re confident he’ll get a chance to cement his place as a starter. The other CBs on the roster (including ex-Viola defender Modibo Diakité) are all well over 30 and thus prone to the pains that come with age. Petko is young, hungry, and talented. He’ll be a big part of Ternana’s season.
Marco Marozzi (Fermana)
The 19-year-old wide man owns a name that’s a bit down manager Flavio Destro’s team sheet; he’s made just one league appearance thus far, although he’s featured twice in the Coppa Italia. Perhaps an early ankle injury is partly to blame, as it knocked him out for the start of the season, and he’s still trying to find his feet in his first assignment outside the friendly confines of Florence. If we’re speaking frankly, he’s not the most highly-rated prospect in the system, so he’ll need to really show something this year to prove to management that he belongs in Fiorentina’s long-term plans. There’s always the chance that he’s a late bloomer, though, so it wouldn’t make sense to throw in the towel on him this early.
Luca Mosti (Arezzo)
The 20-year-old rightback hasn’t found life with the Amaranti easy. He’s yet to make an appearance for them, although he’s at least started to get selected for the matchday squad every week. There’s a lot of competition for his spot on the right flank: veteran Alessio Luciani has held it down pretty well, while highly-rated Empoli loanee Davide Zapella has picked up the scraps, leaving Mosti fighting with Matteo Belvisi for the third-string spot. It’s certainly a bit of an adjustment for the young fullback, but we think he’s equal to the task; after all, these are his first steps as a professional, so it may take another year or two before he’s comfortable and fully adjusted to the hurly burly of the grown-ass men’s game.
Pierluigi Pinto (Arezzo)
The 20-year-old centerback has adjusted a bit more quickly than his former Primavera teammate. He’s played every minute of every match for the Amaranti thus far despite the presence of several veteran options. He’s a big part of why the Tuscan outsiders have shot to third in the table, so manager Alessandro dal Canto is likely to keep him in the side until he drops. While Pinto’s a bit on the old-fashioned side (the cynic might say basic)—he’s fearless in the tackle and in the air—he’s still got some work to do as far as developing a better reading of the game. If he keeps on performing at this level, however, he may get a shot in Serie B next year.
Amidu Salifu (Arezzo)
The 26-year-old Ghanaian midfielder has made 4 appearances off the bench this term in southeastern Tuscany, which is certainly not what he would have hoped for at this stage of his career. As the fifth midfielder in dal Canto’s 4-3-1-2, he hasn’t been afforded the chances he’d want to prove to the brass that he’s worth the (unknown, but probably quite low) fee to bring him aboard permanently. There’s plenty of time left in the season and Salifu certainly has the pedigree—29 Serie A appearances in his career, albeit years ago—but the knee injuries that interrupted his once-promising career may wind up being what defines him. We’re holding out hope that in this, his third year out from the last serious one, will be the one that sees him achieve that glimpse of potential; after all, he’s now the Viola’s longest-tenured player, so you pretty well have to root for him.
Luca Zanon (Siena)
The 22-year-old leftback has appeared in every match this season for Robur, operating all over the dang place as a leftback, rightback, and left midfielder as manager Michele Mignani shifts between a 3- and 4-man defense. The former U20 international is finally settling into life as a pro after a few rough seasons spent finding his feet and looks like he could be a steady performer at this level or even in Serie B for awhile. We’re thrilled for him, even if this uptick comes too late to save his Fiorentina career: his contract is up at season’s end. It’s unclear if the Bianconeri have a clause to make his move permanent or if he’ll enter the market as a free agent, but we’re confident that someone will hand him a contract and a role.