While Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone have done a good job of reinforcing the first squad, the fact remains that any successful club has to have a good youth development system, so ensuring that Fiorentina have a steady pipeline of talent reaching from the academy to the senior side is of critical importance. I’ve written about the difficulties that young players in Italy face in jumping to the professional level through a Viola lens, but this is more of a look at these kids as players rather than as potential assets.
Predicting youth development, of course, is really difficult. Growth isn’t linear, after all, and we don’t get to see these prospects every day in training. We don’t get to know them and find out which ones have the necessary drive to make it. Heck, I don’t get to watch the Primavera as often as I’d like since they often play at 3:30 AM in my time zone. That said, here’s a look at the guys I’ve ranked 10-6.
10. LM Costantino Favasuli
The 18-year-old spent some time with the U17s at the start of the year, but his 5 goals and 2 assists in 9 appearances meant he quickly earned a promotion. It didn’t immediately go perfectly, as Alberto Aquilani moved him from the left wing to leftback, but Favasuli adapted quickly and made the role his. He finished the year with 2 goals and an assist in 29 appearances (23 starts).
While his defending can still be a little ragged, as you’d expect from a guy who was mostly an attacker until 6 months ago, he’s got enough quickness to recover from his mistakes and showed improvement in his positioning as the season progressed. He’s at his best getting forward, though, possessing energy, a good delivery from the wide areas, and a knack for timing his runs quite nicely. He’s clever on the ball as both a passer and a dribbler and should be a force this year for the Primavera; the only question is whether he’ll stick at fullback or move forward to replace a few standouts who’ll leave on loan.
What’s next: Slot in as one of the Primavera’s leaders next year, lock down a position, and show out as one of the key players in the side.
9. CF Destiny Egharevba
The 19-year-old Verona-born striker has all the tools to be a star but hasn’t quite put it together yet. In 26 appearances (15 starts), he notched 5 goals and earned himself 4 caps for the Italy U19s, although he didn’t make the cut for the Euros. He also spent 4 games on the bench for the Viola, although he didn’t get the chance to make his debut. As a slightly odd aside, his older brother is also named Destiny Egharevba and plays as a defender for the Torino Primavera.
While this paints the picture of a player on track, his production on the pitch doesn’t always match up. Some of that was beyond his control: Aquilani often deployed him on the right wing rather than as a striker and Egharevba didn’t every look natural there. His touch lets him down all too often, he’ll occasionally miss a sitter, and he’s not very slippery on the ball. On the other hand, he’s an excellent athlete blessed with pace and leaping ability, and when he’s on form, he’s the sort of player who can run a defense ragged single-handed, as indicated by his double against AC Milan in the Coppa Italia. While these flashes of talent are tantalizing, he needs to do it every week if he wants to take the step up.
What’s next: Take the center forward role, score goals, and stay focused and productive for the entire season.
8. AM Vittorio Agostinelli
The 20-year-old from Monopoli burst onto the scene in 2020-2021, scoring 5 and assisting 2 while alternating between playing as a 10 and an 8. This year, his numbers took a step back—4 goals and 2 assists in 30 appearances (27 starts)—but he did make the bench for the senior side once.
Positionally, he’s a bit like Gaetano Castrovilli, although he doesn’t have Tanino’s skill on the ball. Often fielded nominally as a central midfielder, he’s always drifting high and wide to the left, looking to cut inside and shoot or release a teammate. While he has moments of remarkable skill, he doesn’t bring his talent to bear as often as you’d like, whether that’s in beating his man off the dribble or picking the right pass. What he does exceptionally well, though, is find space, frequently making runs over the top from deep that catch opposing defenses completely off guard and finding nice little pockets between the lines to receive the ball and turn. He needs to move the ball more quickly, stop trying to cut in and shoot every time, and improve his defensive positioning, but the raw materials of a very nice mezzala are definitely there.
What’s next: He signed a contract to 2025, so there’s no rush with him. He’s drawn a bit of interest from Serie B sides, so working himself into the rotation there and becoming more consistent would constitute the progress we want to see.
7. RB Michael Kayode
The former Juventus player joined Fiorentina from Gozzano at the start of last year and hit the ground running. Despite being just 17 when the season began, he was 7th among all players in minutes played, appearing in 35 games (30 starts) and notching 3 assists. He was primarily a leftback at previous stops despite being right-footed and can do a job in midfield as well. That versatility, paired with his talent, earned him 4 caps for the Italy U18s this year as well.
Kayode’s primary attribute at this point is his energy. He’s constantly getting up and down the flank, providing width on the overlap while still getting back to perform his defensive duties. His delivery needs refinement, but that’s the case for every teenage fullback in the world. He’s fairly solid on the back foot, although he clearly needs a bit more experience. He’s also got an outrageously long throw, which he used to great effect this year, including an assist in which he simply flung the ball about thirty yards down the line for Bianco to pick up and score.
What’s next: Spend this year focusing on cleaning up the mistakes and establish himself as half of the league’s best fullback pairing with Favasuli.
6. CM Giovanni Corradini
The 19-year-old from Orvieto began his career as a number 10, but Aquilani did a Pirlo with him in 2020, moving him into the regista role. The former Perugia prospect led the club in minutes played this year and looked stylish doing it, scoring 11 goals and adding 5 assists while serving as the team’s captain and set piece specialist; it’s no surprise that he’s generated interest among various clubs in the second and third tier.
Corradini’s very neat on the ball, using his quick feet and quick brain to get himself out of trouble and keep the ball moving forward. He’s lethal from set pieces, scoring two direct free kicks this year, and he’s pretty good from the spot as well. Defensively, he’s still a work in progress; he has a tendency to get caught out of position and frequently gets dribbled past. Still, those are more sins of inexperience than anything else and young midfielders often learn the ropes after a few years in the hurly burly of the lower leagues. There’s no reason to think that Corradini can’t follow that trend and turn himself into a very effective Serie A player.
What’s next: Grab a role on loan, sort out the defensive side of things, and sign a contract extension.
I’ll publish 5-1 later this week. I’ve also left off Assane Seck and Ivan Andonov, who both would’ve made the list but whose loans expired and, at time of publication, have returned to their parent clubs.