Andy Bangu (Bisceglie)
The 21-year-old Congolese midfielder continues to play significant minutes for the Nerazzurri Stellata; he’s played in all 10 matches since joining from the floundering Matera and started 9 of them. His arrival (along with Cerofolini and Mosti) has coincided with a big improvement for the Apulians, although it won’t be enough to prevent them from returning to Serie D after two scrappy seasons in the third tier. His playing time has tailed off a bit over the past few weeks, though, largely because he hasn’t been the player we (I) desperately want him to be. His drive from midfield has diminished considerably and his longstanding aversion to the defensive side of his job has become increasingly obvious. We still think there’s a tremendously talented player in there, but he just needs a bit of help to bloom.
Giuseppe Caso (Cuneo)
The 20-year-old winger continues to work the often-thankless task of attacking sub for the Aquile. He’s now up to 22 appearances (but just 6 starts) on the year, tallying a goal and an assist. His progress hasn’t exactly been meteoric, but he’s clearly earned the faith of manager Cristiano Scazzola as the Piedmontese outfit scraps to avoid the drop; not a lot of players on their first professional assignments can boast a similar achievement. We’d naturally like to see him produce a bit more on the stat sheet, but he’s still young. We also expect him to stick in the Viola books for awhile, as his agent Augusto Carpeggiani has strong ties to Fiorentina.
Michele Cerofolini (Bisceglie)
The 20-year-old goalkeeper has been in sterling form for Rodolfo Vanoli’s men of late. While he did make a serious mistake against Rende that probably should have resulted in a penalty, he has stopped a PK against Sicula Leonzio and made a string of really good saves, notably against Catanzaro and Juve Stabia. As we mentioned in Bangu’s blurb, his excellence hasn’t been enough to stave off the drop, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s kept a clean sheet in 6 of his 10 matches, which comprises 75% of the scoreless defensive outings from the Nerazzurri Stellata all year. He’s got quick reflexes and surprising strength, and has improved his judgement of high balls into the box. While he’s lost his starting spot with the Italy U20s to AC Milan’s Alessandro Plizzari of late, he should be back in the running for the U21s shortly. Our expectations for him remain very high because he looks like a heck of a prospect; it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him take over as the number two for Fiorentina next year, although management would probably rather get him regular minutes elsewhere.
Petko Hristov (Ternana)
The 20-year-old Bulgarian centerback has endured a rather rocky season with the Rossoverdi, in large part due to the injuries he’s suffered. Currently on the shelf with muscular problems, this is his third stint out of action due to ill health. Combined with his duties with Bulgaria U21s, he’s only made 14 appearances on the season, and just 2 since the new year. This is one of those circumstances, though, where the player’s underperformance really doesn’t seem to be on him at all. With a Viola contract that runs until 2022, we fully expect him loaned out elsewhere next season, and with considerable more success. He’s still an excellent young defender with every tool you want and should be ready for bigger things within two years.
Marco Marozzi (Fermana)
The 20-year-old midfielder has struggled with injuries in his first season away from the Primavera, but has finally begun settling into a groove over the past month and a half, making 6 straight appearances off the bench. His versatility—he’s played in midfield, out wide, and as a 10 this year—should serve him well. More important, though, is that he seems to have finally earned the trust of manager Flavio Destro as the Canarini push for an unlikely promotion to Serie B. We’re fascinated to see how Marozzi does in crunch time this year; he’s a sneaky good prospect who’s definitely worth monitoring.
Luca Mosti (Bisceglie)
The 20-year-old rightback made his first competitive appearance as a professional in the 2-1 loss to Sicula Leonzio in February, playing 32 minutes and earning himself a late booking. It’s a heck of an adjustment to go straight from the Primavera to the rough-and-tumble of Serie C, so we’re not too concerned about the young Tuscan. While his ceiling probably isn’t as high as some of the other Viola prospects, defenders generally take longer to develop than attackers or midfielders; if he continues growing, he should have a long career as a solid professional.
Pierluigi Pinto (Arezzo)
The 20-year-old centerback had been an ever-present member of a surprisingly good Amaranto defense—the 5th-best defensive record in the league has led them to 5th in the table and the thick of the promotion hunt—but suffered an injury in the 3-0 loss to Carrarese a month ago and has been out ever since. Despite the occasional lapses you expect from a youngster taking his first steps outside of the academy, he’s earned rave reviews from manager Alessandro dal Canto, who believes that the youngster is ready for a big role in Serie B. Yeah, we know that Serie B and Serie A are pretty far apart, but it may be time to bump Pinto up in our prospect rankings. Dude has been excellent and has risen to every challenge he’s faced this year.
Amidu Salifu (Arezzo)
The 26-year-old Ghanaian midfielder has mostly been stuck on the bench this year, making just 9 appearances and 3 starts. He’s never been the same since a succession of knee injuries sapped his explosiveness and confidence; it’s doubtful that the Amaranti will exercise their option to buy him at season’s end given his underwhelming stint at the Tuscan outfit, which means he’ll be back in Florence and looking for another loan deal next year. If rumors are to be believed, that means he could outlast Pantaleo Corvino, who originally signed him to the Primavera back in 2011. That’s a heck of an accomplishment in and of itself; we really hope he puts it together for a late-career surge, as you can’t help but root for the longest-tenured Fiorentina player.
Luca Zanon (Siena)
The 22-year-old leftback has been one of the pillars of Robur’s team this year, playing the 7th-most minutes of any outfield player in the squad. It’s not enough to give him a Fiorentina future, as his Viola deal expires this year, but he’s certainly done enough this year to secure a contract somewhere. After he spent a couple years in the wilderness, we’re just glad that he’s finally performing well at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, even if it’s the one in loathsome Siena. Whether the Tuscans keep him around or whether he opts to try his luck elsewhere, we think he’ll be alright.