Sebastian Cristoforo (Getafe—Spain)
The 25-year-old Uruguayan midfielder has settled in as the fourth central midfielder behind Nemanja Maksimović and Mauro Arrambarri for the Azulones as they make a shock assault on the top four. Manager José Bordalás has installed a ferocious mindset in his side, and that should suit Cristoforo’s terrier instincts just fine, but he’s rather underwhelmed; if Bordalás had full faith in him, it’s unlikely that Getafe would have brought 35-year-old Mathieu Flamini in, and the French veteran has surpassed the Viola loanee in recent months, which makes it unlikely that the Spanish outfit will try to keep him around next year. That puts both Fiorentina and Cristoforo in an awkward spot, as his contract runs until 2021. While the player is reportedly keen to stay in Europe, a return to South America may be the best thing for his career at this point.
Valentin Eysseric (Nantes—France)
The 27-year-old winger has missed the past month or so due to injury, but has gotten healthy and may well be a key figure for les Canaris down the stretch as they plan for next year; much like Fiorentina, they’re sitting in 12th and washed out of the domestic cup in the quarterfinals, so now is a time for introspection. Eysseric, with what’s believed to be around a €3 million fee due to make his move permanent, could well stick around for such a small figure if he proves himself over these next few weeks. For a generally mid-table club like Nantes, he’s the sort of smart, cheap pickup who can help propel them to bigger and better things. Of course, it’s not like Fiorentina are miles better, so losing him could sting, particularly since he seems like a useful sort of player for Vincenzo Montella.
Maxi Olivera (Olimpia—Paraguay)
The 27-year-old leftback has pretty well established himself in the first XI for the Decano over the group stages of the Copa Libertadores, helping lead them to first place in Group 3. While he was on the bench for the first 2 matches, he’s barrelled past Sergio Vergara and has started the past 3 games, even notching his first assist for the club with this lovely, looping cross to spark a comeback draw against Universidad Concepción.
In Daniel Garnero’s 4-3-1-2 setup, Olivera has a lot of freedom to bomb down the left and put in crosses while also keeping it solid at the back. We think that he’ll do well for the Paraguayan giants and that they’ll probably shell out the €3.5 million or so it’ll take to make his move permanent. It could help his career, too, as it’ll put him closer to Óscar Tabárez and maybe even a spot in the Uruguay national team.
Rafik Zekhnini (Twente—Netherlands)
The 21-year-old winger has recovered from a serious hamstring injury that kept him out for 6 weeks and has reintroduced himself to the Tukkers’ starting XI, coolly slotting home the winner against Telstar a couple weeks ago.
That brings his counting stats up to 6 goals and 4 assists in 28 appearances this season, which is a promising return for a youngster. His positioning and his decision-making probably require further refinement, but he’s probably ready for the physical rigors of Serie A despite his whippet-thin physique. Another year on loan at the top of Serie B or bottom of Serie A would do him good, as it’ll help Fiorentina figure out if he belongs in their long range plans or not; given his sheer pace, he could well serve a role like Ryder Matos used to under Montella. For now, though, he’s developing nicely: he’s been a key part of Twente’s campaign to return to the Eredivisie after a year away and remains one of Norway’s more exciting young talents.
Szymon Żurkowski (Górnik Zabrze—Poland)
The 21-year-old midfielder remains an ever-present for the Górnicy and even scored a goal on his debut with the armband back in March when usual leaders Szymon Matuszek and Igor Angulo started from the bench; the Ekstraklasa is pretty serious about keeping match footage off of YouTube, apparently, so I can’t link to it. For now, we’ll just say that he’s doing well; I’m working on a slightly deeper dive on him, so expect more detail in the near future.