Riccardo Saponara (Sampdoria)
The 27-year-old trequartista continues to rotate with Gastón Ramírez for the spot behind the strikers in Marco Giampaolo’s 4-3-1-2. He came off the bench for a the end of the 3-0 loss at Napoli last week, but delivered a lovely assist to Karol Linetty against Udinese the week before, bringing his total on the year to 5, along with 2 goals.
If you haven’t made peace with the fact that Samp are going to trigger his clause at season’s end, well, it may be time to do that. €9 million is a good pile of cash, but it’s better to have a quality player like the Cheese than the undefined potential of a transfer or two. For example, his vision sure would have been helpful unlocking that same Udinese defense which he helped Samp put 4 past two weeks ago. In short, I guess, it’s “well done, Ricky, and may fortune go with you.”
Jaime Báez (Cosenza)
The 23-year-old Uruguayan attacker is (wait for it) looking pretty decent. He laid on his 6th assist of the season against Cittadella on Saturday and all of a sudden you can see why he cost €2.3 million as a 20-year-old back in 2015. This is simply marvelous.
In general, though, Báez looks like he’s finally flipped the switch. Always blessed with every athletic gift you could hope for, he seemed anxious every time the ball came to him, alternately rushing and overthinking. Now, though, it seems he’s found his role: a devastating weapon on the counterattack whose job is to find space and charge into it. He’s also added some good set piece deliveries to his arsenal. If he keeps up like this, we wouldn’t be shocked if the Lupi tried to bring him back next year; he’s been brilliant since November.
Gaetano Castrovilli (Cremonese)
The 21-year-old midfielder had been enjoying a decent turnaround after a rough start to the year for the Grigiorossi. Shunted out wide rather than given the chance to run things in the middle of the park, he seemed lost and listless. Until, that is, he absolutely detonated against Perugia on 30 December, scoring a brace of magnificent goals and notching an assist to bring his season totals up to 4 and 3.
It’s all come crashing down, though, as he tore a meniscus against Palermo 2 weeks ago and will probably miss the rest of the season. It’s a brutal blow for a young player who’d finally adjusted to a new role and looked like he could maybe bring something to Florence next season. In the long-term, though, it’s probably not a huge problem for the twice-capped U21 international, as he signed a contract extension last summer that will keep him on the Viola books until 2021. Here’s wishing him a speedy and complete recovery.
Gabriele Gori (Livorno)
The 19-year-old striker spent the first match of his Livorno career on the bench, which is where he spent to much of his time in Foggia. However, he should get a chance this week against fellow relegation strugglers Crotone. It hasn’t exactly been a dream start to his professional career; washing out with the Lupi in half a season is a cause for concern. However, this fresh start in Tuscany could be just what the doctor ordered, and we’re intrigued to see how he responds.
Luca Ranieri (Foggia)
The 19-year-old leftback continues to impress with his steady displays for the Satanelli. He’s started every match but one since 27 October, seamlessly shuttling between fullback, wingback, and outside centerback in a back three. His intelligence and versatility have endeared him to new manager Pasquale Padalino, who seems to have settled on a 4-3-3 formation that moves Ranieri to his natural position. He’s probably earned a contract extension this summer, although he may not join the senior squad any time soon, what with Cristiano Biraghi and David Hancko the obvious one-two there. However, Ranieri looks like the sort of player who’ll have a long, productive career, and keeping him around would surely be a good idea.
Andrés Schetino (Cosenza)
The 24-year-old Uruguayan midfielder has yet to make an appearance this year for the Lupi. The fact that Pantaleo Corvino saw fit to move Michele Cerofolini, who’d gotten a bit of game time, away from the team but leave Schetino there should tell you all you need to know about the former CA Fénix man. His contract runs until 2020, but you get the feeling that the Viola brass will loan him somewhere just to keep him out of the way until next summer, when they’ll send him on his way without a second thought. Having failed to impress at any of his European stops, it may be time for Schetino to return to South America in hopes of resurrecting his career.
Mattia Trovato (Cosenza)
The 21-year-old winger has missed the entire season following surgery to fix a knee injury. Corvino handed him a contract extension last summer, though, so he remains a fixture of some type in Fiorentina’s long-term plans. Here’s hoping he’s back and better than ever as quickly as possible.
Lorenzo Venuti (Lecce)
The 23-year-old fullback is back to his best in Serie B after enduring a pretty bad debut campaign in the top flight last year, albeit largely because Benevento were perhaps the worst defense Serie A had ever seen. Anyways, Lolo is rocking, tallying a pair of assists in his last 3 games and also walloping this absolute thunderbastard against Cosenza; it’s the second time this year he’s scored as a fullback, so maybe this is a part of who he is.
His crossing is coming along nicely to match the energy he’s always brought up and down the flank and he’s still improving defensively as well. While he may not ever turn into Dani Alves circa 2013, he’s another who’s going to have a long and productive career; if he keeps this up, he could replace Vincent Laurini next year on the substitutes’ sheet.