Nenad Tomović (Chievo Verona): The 30-year-old Serbian defender missed most of February and March with an injury, but returned the starting XI just in time to see the Donkey defense ship 3 goals to AC Milan. All in all, he’s been typical Nenad: solid, hardworking, uncomplaining, and occasionally catastrophic. There’s still no real indication as to whether Chievo will buy him outright this summer, but it seems pretty certain that he’s finished in Florence, even with the dearth of centerbacks in the squad now.
Lorenzo Venuti (Benevento): The 22-year-old rightback has returned the starting lineup, but it hasn’t particularly helped the Stregoni, who sit dead last in the league and have allowed a remarkable 63 goals already. You can hardly fault Lolo for the club’s struggles, which have them ready for relegation, but he hasn’t heaped himself in glory, either. While his versatility helps his cause, it’s also caused two successive managers to move him all over the pitch, which hasn’t really helped him settle in either. Corvino extended his contract just last year, so another loan move seems the likeliest option as he’s not an upgrade over Vincent Laurini or Bruno Gaspar yet. Given a bit more seasoning, though, he could become a useful squad member.
Jaime Báez (Pescara): The 22-year-old Uruguayan winger has returned to the bench after a month and a half of regular playing time as the starting Delfini attackers have finally gotten healthy. It’s a shame he couldn’t capitalize on this chance, as it’s surely his final one under contract as a Viola player, as his deal runs out this summer. He’ll surely catch on somewhere, as he’s got youth and athleticism on his side, but as things stand, it’s hard to see him ever achieving a prominent role for a Serie B club, much less a top flight one.
Gaetano Castrovilli (Cremonense): The midfielder 21-year-old midfielder has been on a tear since his birthday last month, notching 3 assists in 5 matches and helping solidify the Serie B newcomers’ place in the league. The burst of creativity coincides with manager Attilio Tesser’s decision to move his U20 international to a number 10 role rather than a deeper midfield one. Check these highlights against Novara (he wins a penalty at the 0:25 mark) for a look at his fantastic dribbling ability, or just enjoy this bit of fantasia, with a jink past a defender and a hilariously loopy cross to a wide-open man in the middle of the box.
He’s still built like a whippet and probably isn’t ready for the physical rigors of Serie A, but another season in Serie B should see him fill out enough to challenge for a role with Fiorentina a year after that.
Kevin Diks (Feyenoord—Netherlands): The 21-year-old rightback has clawed his way back into the first XI after a demotion to the bench and is doing pretty well, honestly. He’s been a force going forward, using his pace and stamina to provide a wide option on the right all season long, and his leaping ability makes him a danger at set pieces. The problem is that the defensive side of his game, which used to be a strength, has deteriorated a bit. His eagerness to get forward often leaves a hole on his wing, and he seems to be having trouble sticking in front of his man, whether with his marking or his tackling. It’s probably just a weird mental hiccup and a regular part of growing into a good player, but it’d be nice if he got this sorted sooner rather than later. We still think he’s got a ton of potential and isn’t that far from fulfilling it, so we look forward to seeing what he does next year, even if it’s not in Florence.
Gilberto (Fluminense—Brasil): The 25-year-old Brazilian rightback (whose birthday was earlier this month) has started training with new outfit Fluminense, although the season doesn’t begin until next month. He should be ahead of Léo Morais for a spot in the starting lineup, but we’ll see what manager Abel Braga thinks. Gilberto’s Viola contract runs for another two years after this, so we wouldn’t be shocked if the Tricolor made an offer for him if he has a good season.
Martin Graiciar (Slovan Liberec—Czechia): The 18-year-old Czech striker picked up a knock in early February that’s kept him sidelined since, but the sky remains his limit. He placed third in Roku’s young Czech footballer of the year sweepstakes (one of the biggest honors in the country) behind Jakub Jankto and Michael Sacek; Graiciar’s the only teenager on the list. His development has not gone unnoticed by the press, who have begun wondering if he’s ready for a role at Fiorentina as early as next year. While having him back up Giovanni Simeone would be a lot of fun, there are a host of reasons it’s not a great idea yet, and the foremost one is that Graiciar needs regular playing time. That probably means another year in the HET Liga or a move to a Serie B side to acclimate him to Italy. But regardless of where he lands next year, he’s staked his claim to being the best prospect in the pipeline right now, and he certainly looks to be destined for big things.
Carlos Sánchez (Espanyol—Spain): The 32-year-old Colombian defensive midfielder has taken to life in Catalonia like a fish to water, just as we expected. Since he joined Espanyol, they’ve only lost 1 of 8 matches, and he’s locked in as a starter for Quique Sánchez Flores. We’re hardly surprised, as la Roca is a class player (and class human). What we’re wondering, though, is what happens next year. His contract with Fiorentina is up in 2019, and it seems unlikely that Corvino will look to extend a 33-year-old, which means that some lucky team is getting an absolute steal of a signing this summer.