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Fiorentina loanee review 2022-2023

How did the Viola plying their trade elsewhere do this year?

Italy U20 v Czech Republic U20 - 8 Nations Tournament
Bright hair and a great future, or maybe vice versa.
Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Serie A

Marco Benassi

After a brief experiment as a fullback, it was clear he didn’t have a future with Fiorentina and moved to Cremonese in January, where he established himself as a regular starter for the first time in years. Weirdly enough, he didn’t pop up with any goals, but he worked hard and looked like a competent central midfielder, particularly in a Grigiorossi system that prioritized quick vertical passing rather than possession. It wasn’t quite a rebirth for the once-hyped prospect, but even unremarkable steadiness is a big improvement for him.

Stats: 17 appearances (12 starts), 1 yellow card

What’s next: He’s not going to play in Florence and contract runs out in 2024. Assuming Daniele Pradè doesn’t secretly renew him again, Benassi will head out to a lower-tier Serie A side or a promotion-chasing Serie B one.

Abdelhamid Sabiri

The attacker wasn’t able to replicate last year’s form in a deeply broken Sampdoria side, battling injury all year but still chipping in some trademark long-range goals. While his club form wasn’t much, he did score a couple bangers at the World Cup for Morocco as well. His season ended on an awful note: he essentially fled to Germany after threats from the Blucerchiati ultras.

Stats: 21 appearances (15 starts), 3 goals, 1 assist, 6 yellow cards

What’s next: He’ll add a fascinating new dimension to the Viola attack, likely slotting in as the number 10 and offering a threat from distance that could unlock defenses along with some excellent pressing; he’s a bit different from Jack Bonaventura and Antonín Barák, so Vincenzo Italiano has another arrow in his quiver.

Serie B

Vittorio Agostinelli

The 21-year-old attacker made no impact at Cosenza. It was a tough introduction to the senior side of the game for one of the key Primavera contributors over the past couple of years, but it’s likely just growing pains. Perhaps on a team that wasn’t fighting for survival until the final matchday, he might’ve gotten a longer leash, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Stats: 2 appearances

What’s next: His contract runs until 2025 so he has at least another year to prove himself on loan. The question is whether he can adjust to life in Serie B or needs a step down to Serie C; if it’s the latter, it may mean that he won’t be ready for Fiorentina any time soon.

Christian Dalle Mura

The 21-year-old centerback and U21 international firmly established himself as a starter by October and never looked back. SPAL’s defense wasn’t as bad as you’d expect for the second-worst team in Serie B and Dalle Mura showed promise, although his inexperience definitely shone through sometimes as well. He made the kinds of mistakes you expect from a young defender, but also made some progress. In short, he did exactly what he was supposed to.

Genoa CFC v Spal - Coppa Italia Photo by Simone Arveda/Getty Images

Stats: 29 appearances (21 starts), 1 assist, 8 yellow cards

What’s next: He’ll likely feature quite a bit in preseason training but probably needs another year on loan. If he can grab a spot for a decent defense in the hurly-burly of Serie B, he’ll be on the right track indeed, but he’s one of Fiorentina’s most exciting prospects regardless.

Gabriele Gori

The 24-year-old striker got plenty of burn at Reggina but didn’t do much with it. Operating primarily as a substitute, he just didn’t offer any real impact. As a strapping and surprisingly quick forward, he certainly looks the part, but his finishing and movement just aren’t good enough. It may be time to wonder if his eye-popping numbers for the Primavera were the result of him being bigger and more athletic than other teenagers, advantages which vanish when playing against adult professionals.

Stats: 36 appearances (5 starts), 3 goals, 1 assist, 1 yellow card

What’s next: Reggina have an option to buy him but probably won’t exercise it (and Fiorentina won’t trigger their buyback option if that happens), so he’ll be a free agent. It sounds like he’s already generating some interest in Serie C and may have to drop down a level to continue his career.

Niccolò Pierozzi

The Florence-born 21-year-old rightback had a fantastic season at Reggina, immediately staking his claim as the starter for the Amaranti. He was brilliant going forward, scoring an absurd number of goals for a fullback and generally looking like a future star. He’s a bit of a work in progress at the other end, but that’s exactly what you expect from a young defender. He lacks experience, not effort, and that’s easily fixable with time.

Stats: 36 appearances (36 starts), 4 goals, 2 assists, 8 yellow cards, 1 red card

What’s next: There are whispers that he’ll get a crack at replacing Lorenzo Venuti as Dodô’s backup, so he’s one to watch very closely in preseason. If he doesn’t make the grade this year, a move to a bottom-half Serie A side isn’t out of the question. Either way, expect a new contract for him this summer and a role with the first team in the next year or two.

Serie C

Giovanni Corradini

The 20-year-old midfielder was solid for the Leoni, nailing down a spot in the XI. He continued to operate as a regista, the role he impressed in with the Primavera last year, rather than in the more attacking role he’d played previously. He looked tidy and sometimes incisive in possession, although he did occasionally get bullied by older, stronger players. The real concern with his game is the defensive side, as his positional sense is still developing and he’s not much of a tackler; he’ll likely always need some help there, but his talents with the ball could make that worthwhile.

Stats: 27 appearances (20 starts), 2 assists, 7 yellow cards

What’s next: He signed an extension this summer, so he’s clearly part of the mid- to long-term future, but he needs more time to learn the defensive nuances of his new position before he’s ready for the first team. Expect at least another couple of years before he gets a chance.

Eduard Duțu

The 22-year-old Romanian centerback started the year at Reggina but didn’t make an appearance and moved to Gubbio in January. He found life in the third tier a bit more welcoming and earned a role as a rotational option for the Lupi and their 5th-best defense before injury knocked him out for the final month. He’s a rugged penalty box defender more than a front-foot one but looks like the kind of player who could have a long and fruitful career.

Stats: 10 appearances (5 starts), 1 yellow card

What’s next: He’ll likely try his luck in Serie B again next year, hoping that his experience will give him an edge at that level. He doesn’t really fit the profile for what the Viola are looking for with their centerbacks right now, so I don’t really see a future for him in Florence, unfortunately.

Samuele Spalluto

The hulking former kickboxer failed to make an impact with Ternana in Serie B but found a role with Novara in Serie C. He’s always been terrifyingly strong—almost Andrea Petagna level thickness—and he’s got a terrifying intensity both with and without the ball, but his technique and positioning need some work. He always operated in a striking pair with a smaller, quicker forward playing off his battering ram approach, so it’s still unclear if he can fully lead the line by himself, although he impressed enough to earn a start in the promotion playoff, which speaks well of a young mid-season acquisition.

Stats (with Ternana): 3 appearances

Stats (with Novara): 14 appearances (8 starts), 2 goals, 1 assist

What’s next: He’s 22 and his contract is up in July, but he could sign an extension if the Fiorentina brass think he showed enough. If not, he’ll look to latch on with a Serie C team and work his way up. Given his intensity and drive, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Other leagues

Aleksandr Kokorin

Ugh. The Russian forward/criminal was pretty effective for Cypriot champions Aris Limassol, earning a starting berth and leading the club in scoring. As part of a fluid striking duo, he had the freedom to move around rather than leading the line alone, which probably suits him, but let’s not act like the 32-year-old has suddenly been reborn as a top-notch center forward. His performance was the result of dropping into Europe’s 22nd-ranked league more than anything else.

Stats: 30 appearances (24 starts), 13 goals, 6 assists, 9 yellow cards

What’s next: His contract mercifully ends next year and Aris sound like they want to keep him. If there’s any way to get his whopping €2.2 million salary off the books, Fiorentina should jump at it. And, in case you thought that Kokorin was done being an awful person, he’s started his vacation by hanging out with world-class trash heap Dan Bilzerian in Monte Carlo. What a creep.

Louis Munteanu

The 21-year-old Romanian forward impressed at Farul Constanța in his home country, earning his first senior call-up in March, although he didn’t make it off the bench. Despite some injury problems, he was productive in a variety of roles, working as both a striker and on the left wing. He improved as the season went on, saving his best for the championship round, and did nothing but raise his profile in Romania. He may need to get stronger, but his technique and intelligence are just fine.

Stats: 27 appearances (25 starts), 8 goals, 6 assists, 1 yellow card

What’s next: FCSB (the artist formerly known as Steaua București) are reportedly interested and Fiorentina seem oddly apathetic to his exploits. Hopefully he’ll get a look in preseason and Italiano will see enough to ensure that he gets a contract extension at the very least; as is, he may be ready to offer something for the club right now.