Sebastian Cristoforo (Getafe—Spanish La Liga): The 25-year-old midfielder has dropped back to the reserves since his magisterial performance against Alavés, managing just 31 minutes since 18 January. He must be wondering if he’s in manager Pepe Bordalás’ long-term plans now, too, as the mister brought 34-year-old Matthieu Flamini aboard in December after securing Cristoforo on loan and the Frenchman seems to have already slid in front of him in the pecking order, making him the fourth-choice after the former Arsenal and AC Milan man, Nemanja Maksimović, and Mauro Arrambarri. Whether the Azulones decide to keep him for next year is a question worth asking, but he’s clearly shown that he can contribute. We don’t even know if his deal includes a clause to buy, though, so who knows?
Valentin Eysseric (Nantes—French Ligue 1): The 26-year-old Frenchman is working his way into the Canaris’ setup, featuring in all 4 matches since making the switch back to his native land and starting the past 2. As we expected, he’s quickly endeared himself to manager Vahid Halilhodžić and looks like he’s going to have a productive spell in Brittany. If he remains in the mister’s plans, we fully expect Nantes to pay the €3.5 million (plus possible bonuses) to keep their new number 11 around.
Maximiliano Olivera (Olimpia—Paraguayan Primera División): The 26-year-old Uruguayan leftback is settling in with the early league leaders, getting his first start in a 2-4 win at Nacional. He wasn’t at his best—the second goal the hosts scored came because he lost his man on a corner—but we don’t doubt that he’ll overtake Sergio Vergara soon enough. He’s proven to be a top-notch performer in South America and should be back to demonstrating his talent in no time.
Rafik Zekhnini (FC Twente—Dutch Eerste Divisie): The 21-year-old winger was enjoying a pretty dang good season with the Tukkers until going down after half an hour with a hamstring tear against the Utrecht U21s on 18 January. He’s expected to be out for another month at least as he recovers, which goes to show you how badly he must have been hurt. Manager Marino Pusic is clearly concerned about losing his talented young wide man, which bodes well for the Norwegian U21 international’s return to the starting lineup once he’s healthy again. There won’t be any pressure to bring him back too soon, though, as the Enschede club lead the second division by 8 points and are almost certain to be promoted to the Eredivisie after a one year absence. Zekhnini’s been a big part of that, and we hope he recovers soon and resumes his sparkling performances.
Szymon Żurkowski (Górnik Zabrze—Polish Ekstraklasa): The 21-year-old Polish midfielder continues to toil away for the Górnicy, who have finally climbed out of the relegation places and now sit 14th. It’s not exactly the best place to evaluate the Poland U21 international, but he remains the most influential figure in the side despite having to spend more time in the defensive phases of the game than he’d like.