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Final loanee reports: Serie A

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The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Empoli FC Training Session
Such a perfect photograph.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Kevin Diks (Empoli)

What happened: The 22-year-old Dutch rightback moved down the road to Empoli on the final day of the January mercato for a loan fee of €1 million. It seemed like a bit of a strange move at the time, given the presence of outstanding wingback Giovanni Di Lorenzo, and that’s exactly what happened. Diks didn’t make a single appearance for the Azzurri. While that’s largely due to a knee injury that’s held him out since late February, it’s yet another backwards step for a player who was once rated among the finest in his cohort and was a standout for the Netherlands U21 side as recently as this year.

Final stats: 0 appearances

Best moment: n/a

What’s next: He’ll spend all of next year on loan with Empoli, which should provide him some stability. With Di Lorenzo tapped for a move to Napoli, Diks will have that wingback position all to himself, at least until reinforcements arrive. If he doesn’t seize that opportunity, though, he’s probably done with Fiorentina. His contract runs until 2021, so unless he finally breaks through next year and earns himself an extension, he’ll be gone then.

Final grade: D- The only thing that keeps this from being an F is that he was injured for much of the year.

Bartłomiej Drągowski (Empoli)

What happened: Stuck behind Alban Lafont in Florence, Drągowski obviously just wanted a chance to play, although he was never anything but respectful and professional. He got it in the January mercato, moving to neighboring Empoli and immediately taking over the starting job (although not the number one shirt, as he instead chose 69 because of course he did). All he managed after the move was a string of fantastic performances that earned attention all over Europe. He took as big a part as anyone in Empoli’s frantic late push for salvation, and may well have been their best player over the final two months of the season. In short, Bart looked like the goalkeeper we all knew he could be, one who never deserved to be stuck behind Lafont or Marco Sportiello.

Final stats: 14 appearances (14 starts), 24 goals conceded, 3 clean sheets, 2 yellow cards

Best moment: How does a record-setting performance against Atalanta sound? Yeah, Bart’s 17 saves against la Dea is the most ever in Serie A.

What’s next: He’s still on the Viola books and, while there’s a substantial portion of the fans that would prefer him over Lafont, it’s likely that he’ll be shipped elsewhere. Demand for him will never be higher—AS Roma and a number of Premier League clubs have been mentioned—so Fiorentina will probably cash in on him, leaving the supporters to ponder what could have been.

Final grade: B+ Finally got a chance to prove his class after being perhaps the highest-rated teenage goalkeeper in Europe when he arrived in Florence 3 years ago and seized it with both hands, making a number of jaw-dropping saves over the final three months of the season. The only reason he never got a chance with the Viola feels like the byproduct of organizational chaos more than an indictment of his talent.

Jacob Rasmussen (Empoli)

What happened: Fiorentina bought the 22-year-old Danish centerback for €7 million back in January, but left him on loan at Empoli for the remainder of the year. He was mostly a rotational option for the Azzurri this year rather than a regular starter; Viola fans have already questioned why he cost so much despite being unable to beat out any of Matías Silvestre, Domenico Maietta, or Freddie Veseli. His performances weren’t great this year, as he frequently betrayed his youth by sticking too tight or not tight enough to opposing forwards, and struggled particularly to stay in front of quick or crafty attackers. He looked better when allowed to press high up the pitch, though, and he’s a neat passer of the ball, so there should be plenty of material for Vincenzo Montella to work with. He also spent a couple of games in defensive midfield, so there’s that option as well, although he certainly looks much better in defense at this point.

Final stats: 15 appearances (11 starts), 1 assist, 3 yellow cards

Best moment: He pushed up to dispossess Riccardo Orsolini at Bologna and cleanly nicked the ball off him well past midfield, then strode forward and played in Marko Pajac to score. It was quite nice.

What’s next: He may well end up on loan elsewhere next year, as Germán Pezzella, Vitor Hugo, Federico Ceccherini, and David Hancko are likely to compete for spots in the Viola back three. He’ll be one to keep an eye on at Moena, though, to see how he fits in.

Final grade: C Had trouble surpassing some relatively unheralded options in defense and struggled a bit when he was on the pitch.

Riccardo Saponara (Sampdoria)

What happened: Loaned to Samp, where the trequartista is king, after it became clear that there was no space for a 10 in Stefano Pioli’s setup. Mostly worked as a backup to Gastón Ramírez, whom he was unable to surpass, partly due to injuries. Spent the final month on the bench, possibly to avoid making enough appearances to trigger a mandatory purchase by the Blucerchiati. When he did play, though, he did typically Cheesy things: lots of clever little touches to bring his teammates in, lots of pass leading to the assist, lots drifting between the lines. Still never going to contribute much by way of defense or goals, but remains a class player.

Final stats: 24 appearances (12 starts), 2 goals, 5 assists, 3 yellow cards

Best moment: In the 3-3 draw against Fiorentina, sprinted over to former teammate Pezzella after the defender suffered a head knock; it was a nice reminder of Ricky’s reputation for being an absolute sweetheart. More realistically, though, it was the 10 minute stretch against AC Milan (the club he grew up at) in which he scored an outrageously classy equalizer and then assisted Fabio Quagliarella for the go-ahead goal with a majestic chip over the top.

What’s next: We’ve heard that Samp aren’t interested in paying the €7 million it would take to keep him, so expect to see the Cheese at Moena. He could be a fun fit in a Montella side (we wrote about this last summer), but he could also be a bit like Josip Iličić: an outrageously talented player for whom Cousin Vinnie never found a spot. He’s another one whose preseason progress will be well worth watching.

Final grade: B- Would have been nice to see him take over the trequartista role from Ramírez on a full-time basis, but he played a part in Samp’s success this year.

Cyril Théréau (Cagliari)

What happened: Sent to Sardinia after it became clear that there was no space for him in Florence, he joined shithouse sensei Rolando Maran in January. However, injuries and ineffectiveness prevented him from passing up the likes of Leonardo Pavoletti, João Pedro, and Artur Ioniță in attack. In true Cyril form, he still managed to irritate the hell out of Fiorentina fans by posting what was at best an exploitative video that dragged Alban Lafont into squarely into the internet’s crosshairs.

Final stats: 5 appearances, 1 start, 1 yellow card

Best moment: When he rolled out of Florence, honestly.

What’s next: Now 36 years old and with a contract that runs out in 2020, the Viola will probably try to offload him for peanuts as quickly as possible this summer to avoid having him come into contact with Lafont at Moena, which would have the potential to get very awkward.

Final grade: F Looks pretty washed on the pitch, given that he can’t really run anymore, and added some real knobbery off the pitch as well.