Cristiano Biraghi (Inter Milan)
The leftback’s return to his childhood club hasn’t exactly been triumphant yet, as he’s yet to make an appearance. Of course, that’s likely down to some injury issues which he should be over by now, so he could well leapfrog Kwadwo Asamoah as soon as this weekend for the derby against AC Milan, especially given the Ghanaian’s lacklustre performance against Slavia Praha a couple days ago.
Year to date grade: D Once he actually starts playing, he’s likely to look very good.
Riccardo Saponara (Genoa)
The Cheese—wearing number 91—managed to do his hamstring after half an hour in the Coppa Italia win against Imolese, missing the first 2 matches of the Serie A campaign. Of course, he did notch a (headed!) goal against lesser-known Grifone off a rebound, which seems like a very out-of-character way for him to tally.
He seems to have healed up, as evidenced by his 20 minutes off the bench in last week’s loss to Atalanta and the start he made against Cagliari yesterday. As the most creative midfielder at Aurelio Andreazzoli’s disposal, he should have a significant role this year for a surprisingly tough Genoa side, but his health, as always will be the determinant. The €3.8 million clause to buy him seems like a no-brainer, so barring catastrophe, he won’t be leaving Liguria any time soon.
Year to date grade: C Flashes of brilliance and time on the training table. Yeah, that’s our Ricky.
Giovanni Simeone (Cagliari)
The 24-year-old Argentine is tailor-made for a Rolando Maran team, so Cagliari is the perfect landing spot. His brass-and-leather lungs, relentlessness, and grinta should guarantee him big minutes in Serie A’s resident shithouse king’s lineups, and so far, that’s what it’s looked like. He made his debut off the bench against Inter and, in his first start against Parma last week, produced the platonic ideal of a Cholito performance: non-stop running, one bad miss, and a goal that saw him win the ball off a defender and blaze forward before finishing brilliantly.
He had another today, showing excellent movement to lose his man and head in the opener against Genoa in an eventual 3-1 win.
With just Alberto Cerri and João Pedro to beat out for a starting berth, Simeone shouldn’t want for playing time. If he bounces back in Sardinia this year—which we fully expect—the Isolani won’t hesitate to pay the €16 million release clause for him.
Year to date grade: B- He’s made a strong impression; all he has left to do is keep that momentum going for another 35 fixtures.
Jordan Veretout (AS Roma)
The 26-year-old Frenchman sat out the first 2 matches for the Lupi, but played all 90 minutes in Sunday’s 4-2 over Sassuolo and looked quite sharp in doing so. He was steady with his passing and moved the ball forward well—he was heavily involved in two of the goals, for example. While he’s perhaps a bit too similar to Brian Cristante to regularly feature next to the Canadian-born Italian, he should fit perfectly next to fellow newcomer Amadou Diawara in Paulo Fonseca’s engine room. We’d lay pretty good money that he’ll hit the necessary benchmarks to trigger the €2 million in bonuses that will attach to the €17 million fee due next summer.
Year to date grade: C Expect this to shoot up once he’s entrenched as a starter, which should be very soon indeed.