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Loanee report: Serie A

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This is basically the Fiorentina/Empoli variety hour now.

Empoli FC Training Session
This is hilarious to me.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Kevin Diks (Empoli): The 22-year-old Dutch rightback has yet to feature for Fiorentina’s new favorite neighbors and has dropped off the match day squad for the past two weeks. He’s played a total of 5 professional minutes in Italy, so it’s not unfair to wonder if he simply isn’t cut out for this league. He nailed down a starting spot at Feyenoord last year and remains a part of the Netherlands U21 setup—although he’s transitioned to central defense for them of late—so it’s not like he doesn’t have some ability. Still, it’s a rather stunning fall from grace for a player who was once touted as one of Europe’s best prospects at his position.

Bartłomiej Drągowski (Empoli): The 21-year-old Polish goalkeeper—who’s wearing number 69 again, heaven help us—has stepped into the starting lineup for Giuseppe Iachini over the past 4 weeks, just as we expected. Unfortunately, his side have earned just 4 points while giving up 8 goals in that span, so it hasn’t been easy for poor Bart, especially now that Pietro Terracciano has impressed so much in Florence already. Drągowski, at least, has played fairly well, making a few very good saves. He still needs to fine-tune his technique, particularly when coming off his line, but possesses the reflexes and physical presence necessary to be a very good goalie for a very long time.

Jacob Rasmussen (Empoli): The 21-year-old Danish centerback has suffered a rather turbulent season thus far, as he started out first choice for manager Aurelio Andreazolli before dropping behind Freddie Veseli, Matías Silvestre, and Domenico Maietta. He’d clawed his way back into the squad for a month and a half under new manager Beppe Iachini before falling off again after a string of tough results, and now has to re-earn the trust of Andreazolli, who’s back in charge (are we sure that Zamparini hasn’t bought Empoli on the sly?). He’ll likely get spot starts and substitute minutes for the rest of the season. He remains a major player for the Denmark U21s, however, and should feature prominently for them at the Euros this summer. Of course, that means he’ll link up late with his Viola colleagues, so expect a slow start from him next year. Still, with his strength, athleticism, and knowledge of low-dimensional topology (maybe that’s a different Jacob Rasmussen) make him an intriguing prospect.

Riccardo Saponara (Sampdoria): The 27-year-old trequartista has, like the Blucerchiati quest for the Europa League, fallen off a bit of late; he hasn’t got a goal or an assist since 26 January. However, he seems to have surpassed Gastón Ramírez in Marco Giampaolo’s estimation, having started 6 of the past 7 matches rather over the Uruguayan. That pretty much assures that the Genovese outfit will pay the remaining €7 million to make the move permanent next summer; you usually want to avoid discounted dairy products, but the Cheese is an exception.

Cyril Théréau (Cagliari): The 35-year-old French striker and world-class knob hurt his quadricep in training a week after arriving in Sardinia and missed 4 weeks recovering, but came off the bench to play 19 minutes in last week’s loss at Bologna. As an old—he turns 36 next month—slow, gritty, and sporadically inspiring forward, he’s perfect for Rolando Maran’s particular brand of shithousery and should continue to operate as the primary backup to Leonardo Pavoletti. It remains unclear whether or not the Sardi have an option to buy him at the end of the year, but after his shenanigans in dragging Alban Lafont’s name through the mud, he’s almost certainly done in Florence.

Hamed Junior Traorè (Empoli): The 19-year-old Ivorian midfielder has played only 26 minutes since the news broke about a possible heart condition that jeopardized his move to Fiorentina. While the Viola still haven’t registered his contract with Serie A, we’re treating him as a Fiorentina loanee for now. All sources I can find have gone mute on the subject, so it’s tough to know what’s really happening with this whole thing. In rather more inspiring news, though, he recently won a community award from the town of San Miniato for his humanitarian work, so the dude’s clearly not slowing down his life either way. Still hoping that this is just a blip and he’ll be a productive Viola player until he retires.