Sebastian Cristoforo (Getafe—Spanish La Liga): The 25-year-old Uruguayan midfielder is starting to come into his own after featuring as, at best, a late sub for los Azulones. He’s started the last 3 matches he’s played in, though, turning in some impressive performances. Most recently, he tallied 2 assists, a penalty won, 3/4 dribbles, 5/6 tackles, 3 interceptions, and no fouls in a big win over Deportivo Alavés, earning a spot in various Teams of the Week. It seems that he’s officially earned manager Pepe Bordalás’ trust as an option in the middle and may have passed countryman Mauro Arambarri in the manager’s estimation. It’s quite a reversal for a player who never quite put it together in Florence. The terms of his loan are still unclear, so we can’t definitively say that Getafe have an option to buy him at season’s end, but it’s almost certain that they will if they have the chance. Apparently all he needed was a return to Spain.
Gilberto (Fluminense—Brazilian Serie A): The 25-year-old Brazilian rightback is still trying to get his knee healthy again after suffering a serious injury back in September. Before going down, though, he’d cemented his place as the starter for Tricolor, scoring 3 goals and adding an assist in 15 matches. He was impressive enough that the Rio de Janeiro outfit extended his loan by another 12 months, this time with an option to buy him. That means that the already infinitesimally small chance we’d see Gilberto back in purple has pretty well vanished, as his Viola contract runs out 6 months after that anyways. We wish him nothing but good fortune. Given that it’s his offseason now, we won’t be reporting on him anymore in this feature until next year.
Julián Illanes (Argentinos Juniors—Argentinean Primera División): The 21-year-old Argentinean centerback has yet to be picked for the match day squad this season. In fact, club president Cristian Malaspina recently told reporters that Fiorentina loanee (along with ex-Viola superstar Hernán Toledo) is no longer in the club’s plans. That means that Illanes will return to Florence, where Pantaleo Corvino will probably try to find a new club for him. On the plus side, the player holds both Argentinean and Italian passports, so he should be able to latch on somewhere. Otherwise, he’ll probably spend the remainder of the year training with either the senior side or, more likely, the Primavera; that’s hardly an ideal outcome, so we’re hoping that he finds a new home soon.
Rafik Zekhnini (FC Twente—Dutch Eerste Divisie): The Norwegian winger (who just turned 21 last week, so auguri, Rafik!) continues to look pretty dang sharp for the Tukkers. In 18 appearances, he’s stacked up 4 goals and 4 assists, forcing manager Marino Pusic to hand him a bigger role than his initial end-of-bench attacker one. Instead, Rafik has played his way into a mostly starting job; he’s got 2 goals and 2 assists in the last 3 matches, bringing his goals + assists rate to a very respectable 1 every 111 minutes. While his continued development is definitely impressive, the step up from the Dutch second division to Serie A is considerable, so expecting an impact from him in Florence next year may be a bit optimistic. With a contract that runs until 2022, time is on his side; should he keep improving in Enschede and help them earn promotion, Pantaleo Corvino could well try to find him a spot with a newly-promoted Serie A side next year.