Riccardo Saponara (Sampdoria)
The 26-year-old trequartista only began his season this week, as Sampdoria had their opener against Fiorentina postponed due to the collapse of the Morandi Bridge. The Cheese played 31 minutes in the loss at Udinese, replacing Gastón Ramírez in the hole behind the strikers. He created several decent chances in his half hour and may have already surpassed the Uruguayan, although we’ll have to see what Marco Giampaolo does next week. However, based on this performance (and as we well know, you can definitely extrapolate an entire season from one result), Samp are likely to trigger Ricky’s clause and make his move permanent at year’s end.
Jaime Báez (Cosenza)
The 23-year-old Uruguayan attacker made a 9 minute cameo in the 4-0 drubbing at Torino in the Coppa Italia in relief of striker Gennaro Tuttino. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from that appearance, but it’s at least a good sign that manager Piero Braglia opted to give him a chance. Báez, you have to think, is playing for his career; he’s shown nothing over the past three years and needs something to go his way if he’s going to continue playing in Italy. Maybe, just maybe, this is the year that it all comes together.
Gaetano Castrovilli (Cremonese)
The 21-year-old midfielder is back for round two with the Grigiorossi after a strong campaign last time out helped keep them in Serie B. Now that he hasn’t had to waste time with settling in, he’s come out blazing, scoring in each of the first two matches he’s played in. First, in a wild Coppa Italia match which his side ultimately lost on penalties, he scored this neatly finished effort to take the lead, showcasing his intelligence and sense for space while playing as a winger.
The second, which opened the scoring against Pescara, was just as impressive as the U20 star, this time deployed as a regista, made a lung-busting run down the pitch to earn himself a free pop at goal, highlighting his pace and, again, his knack for knowing where the space is going to be. While he may not maintain his current 100% goal-scoring record, he’s going to sparkle this year in Cremona and has an outside chance to play his way into a role with the Viola next year, as he offers as much cunning and guile in the middle than anyone currently wearing the purple shirt.
Michele Cerofolini (Cosenza)
The 19-year-old goalkeeper has yet to unseat incumbent Umberto Saracco; he’s been on the bench for both Coppa Italia matches and the single Serie B clash as well. Saracco, however, has conceded 6 goals in those 3 matches; while that’s not entirely on him—the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Torino in the Coppa didn’t help—the thought has surely crossed Braglia’s mind that a change is needed. Too, the sheer number of Viola players the Lupi have on loan works in Cerofolini’s favor: Cosenza management will surely want to keep the relationship with the Fiorentina on good footing, which means that the Italy U19 starlet just needs to bide his time, show his quality in training, and perform when called upon. If he does spend any time between the sticks for the Lupi, we’re confident he’ll be rock solid.
Gabriele Gori (Foggia)
The 19-year-old striker has hit the ground running in his first professional assignment with a goal and an assist in his 2 appearances. He’s played the full 180 minutes available in those, which clearly indicates that manager Gianluca Grassadonia is going to give him all the playing time he could desire. After all, having a hit man who can score headers like this means you always have a chance.
His assist for the second goal against Carpi (in what would eventually end up as a 4-2 win) showcased his skill with the ball at his feet and his hold-up play. Gori’s fun to watch, too, and not just because he looks like an Italian movie star from the 1970s. He’s bigger and stronger than everyone, but also clearly has a fine footballing brain under that lovely hair. A goal haul of 15 or so for the Satanelli is completely attainable; if he overshoots that mark (which wouldn’t shock us), he’ll have made a strong case to stick with Fiorentina next year as the primary backup to Giovanni Simeone rather than Dušan Vlahović or Martin Graiciar.
Luca Ranieri (Foggia)
The 19-year-old leftback hasn’t started quite as impressively as his old Primavera mate, but he’s getting himself into the mix. He played 19 minutes as a defensive sub against Carpi, holding down the left wingback spot and looking perfectly fine. He’s still the most promising fullback prospect I can recall the Viola academy producing since Venuti and may be the best since Cristiano Piccini. Grassadonia has utilized both a 3-5-2 and a 4-3-3 this year, so it’s hard to say who exactly Ranieri needs to beat out for a starting role. Vice-captain Giuseppe Loiacono probably has a strong grip on the leftback spot, but Oliver Kragl’s grasp on the wingback spot in a 3-man defense looks a bit more tenuous. Either way, though, we’re backing Luca to the hilt. The U20 international has a long and fruitful career ahead of him, and this is just the first step.
Andrés Schetino (Cosenza)
The 24-year-old Uruguayan defensive midfielder has spent both matches with the Lupi as an unused substitute. His main competition for a spot seems to be Domenico Mungo, Luca Verna, and Napoli loanee Luca Palmiero. It’s a long season and we won’t rule out the chance that he gets a run in at some point, but we’re going to wait before we decide that he’s really earned a spot.
Mattia Trovato (Cosenza)
The 20-year-old winger hasn’t yet made the matchday squad for the Lupi. This is his second year in a row with the Lupi, although he did sign an extension with Fiorentina this summer, which is a good indication that Corvino sees something in him. Nevertheless, Cosenza is a strange fit, as Braglia’s 3-5-2 doesn’t really use wingers. It’s not like Trovato is some rando either; he’s got a couple of appearances with the Italy U18s and has shown an ability to drop into central midfield when necessary. It’s reasonable to wonder if he’s carrying some kind of injury that hasn’t been reported yet, but it might just be that he doesn’t fit in at Cosenza.
Lorenzo Venuti (Lecce)
The 23-year-old rightback hasn’t yet made an appearance for the Giallorossi, remaining stuck to the bench for the season-opening draw with Benevento. However, Riccardo Fiamozzi, who started (and scored one of the flukiest goals you’ll ever see), was rather absent in defense, so Lollo should have a pretty good opportunity to establish himself as the starter with a strong week in training. Honestly, he’s probably a better player than Fiamozzi and should win a spot in the first XI fairly quickly. A strong year could put him in contention with Kevin Diks as the reserve rightback for Fiorentina, so you know that Venuti will give it his all.