As Fiorentina fans, we don’t get to enjoy things for very long here at Viola Nation. Whenever a player looks like they could have a bright future in Tuscany, they’re chased out with pitchforks by the ownership, or decide to ruin their career in north-east England, or worst of all develop a life-threatening illness that can only be cured by an extended stay in Turin...
And that’s why Andy-Bangu-super-fan (and Viola Nation Editor) Tito and I have compiled a list of the 20 most promising players in the Fiorentina youth setup, because there’s nothing quite so heart-warming as knowing that a player almost certainly won’t abandon you for at least another two years.
Ground rules for the list were as follows:
1. Only players who we’ve seen play are eligible
2. Only players aged 21-years old or younger are eligible
3. No one with more than three first team appearances is eligible
So without further ado, let’s get into this year’s top 20 Viola prospects.
20. Abdou Diakhate
Position Last Year: 5th
To those whose knowledge of the Primavera squad comes solely from friendlies at Moena, seeing Diakhate this low on a list of Fiorentina prospects is likely somewhat surprising.
But if I learned anything from having to remortgage my home after I bought all those Andres Schetino shirts, it’s that good performances against semi-professionals do not necessarily translate to a long and successful career in Serie A. Whilst Diakhate had shown some promise under ex-coach Federico Guidi, he’s struggled to adapt to the system deployed by new Mister, Emiliano Bigica. To make matters worse, the injury which saw Diakhate leave the Campionato Primavera final in June is expected to continue to keep him sidelined for much of the coming season. Now approaching 20-years old Diakhate has just 12 months remaining on his contract, and with the decline in performance and serious fitness doubts looming over him, it’s not unimaginable that he will leave the club for free this year.
Goal for the Season: Get back into playing condition, and convince the club that the hype surrounding him a few years ago was not undeserved.
19. Edoardo Pierozzi
Position Last Year: N/A.
As is the case for the senior squad, right back has been something of a problem position for la primavera. First choice option Gabriele Ferrarini is certainly a good player, but a combination of injuries and a poor disciplinary record (Three red cards in 19 games) have limited his playing time, whilst back up Luca Mosti failed to make the most of the opportunities given to him. Mosti’s loss proved to be 16-year old Edoardo Pierozzi’s gain though, as the young full back found himself called up from the u17 squad for the latter months of the season. As those of you with a human body will know, the physiological differences between a 16-year old and a 19-year old tend to be pretty significant, but Pierozzi held his own against opponents that were almost uniformly bigger, stronger, and faster.
Goal for the Season: Continue to grow and push Ferrarini for the first-place spot.
18. Marco Meli
Position Last Year: 17th
Marco Meli struggled to hold down a place in the Primavera first team last year not because of disappointing performances, but because he couldn’t match the level of production that Sottil and Gori brought. Instead the 18-year old winger fought with Josip Maganjic for the right to the third spot in the primavera’s attack. Meli isn’t as potent a goal threat as Sottil or Gori, nor is he as good on the ball, nor does his movement cause opposition defences half of the trouble. This is not to say that he’s a bad player, but being consistently next to two more talented players certainly highlights the issues that keep Meli this low on the list. A year older, and perhaps with slightly less to prove, Meli has the talent to make the rw spot in Mister Bigica’s first XI his own this year, but will again face heavy competition for minutes.
Goal for the Season: Find ways to more consistently cause the opposition trouble, and force Bigica to keep him in the starting XI.
17. Josip Maganjic
Position Last Year: 8th
Since arriving two years ago from Hajduk Split, Josip Maganjic has enjoyed good, but not great form. Muscled out of his preferred centre forward spot each of the last two year by Jan Mlakar and Gabriele Gori, Maganjic has had to make do as an inside forward on the left wing. As with Meli, Maganjic struggled to cement himself in the Primavera first team last year, though he did enjoy more consistent playing time than his Italian counterpart. Outshone though he was by Gori and Sottil last year, Maganjic had a quietly respectable season, but he’ll face strong competition for minutes again this year and will need to show something more if he wants to hold down a place in the starting lineup.
Goal for the Season: Continue to build on his solid form from last year, and look to develop into a more significant threat in front of goal.
16. Simone Minelli
Position Last Year: 9th
Once amongst the brightest prospects in the youth set up, two disappointing and injury-filled years in Serie C have seen Simone Minelli’s stock plummet. Now aged 21, there was some speculation that the winger would leave Florence this Summer, but an ankle injury picked up at the end of last season appears to have deterred any potential buyers. Expected to return by October, Minelli will have until January to convince the Fiorentina brass to keep him around, if he can recapture the incredible form he showed with the Primavera before his first loan spell the u21 international may yet revive his career.
Goal for the Season: Get fit and recapture his goal scoring form from two years ago.