More than 5 years ago, I wrote an article about what Fiorentina’s B team in Serie C would look like. It was a lot of fun to research, as it gave me a chance to catch up with a bunch of Primavera stars I’d fallen in love with over the years, and now andrewforzaviola has brought up the idea again. Feels like it’s time to update the old concept.
Since I wrote that article, only Atalanta has joined Juventus in fielding a B team in Serie C; it clearly hasn’t been an idea that’s taken the league by storm. Fiorentina, however, should really focus on getting this up and running. There’d certainly be a significant startup cost, but the new Rocco B. Commisso Viola Park Center for Players Who Can’t Kick Good and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too means the facilities should be in place.
The B team would allow Primavera players an extra few years to develop under club control, ensuring that the Viola don’t miss out on late bloomers like Giuseppe Caso, Jaime Báez, and Cedric Gondo. It’d provide consistency, as getting loaned all over the country to clubs with disparate tactical philosophies can hinder development; instead of being shoehorned into unfamiliar cities and roles, players would learn the same philosophy that governs the first team, making a breakthrough more likely. It’s helped Juve bring guys like Kenan Yıldız, Niccolò Fagioli, Fabio Miretti, and Samuel Iling-Junior through the ranks and into key Serie A contributors.
More importantly to Joe Barone, though, keeping these players under club control for an extra 4 years would increase their value. That’s the secret of the B team: it doesn’t create a path into the first team so much as an extra revenue stream from player sales. Juve, again, has made over €70 million in sales from the U23 team since 2019. That’s a big deal in FFP terms, and would mean even more to a fully self-financing club like Fiorentina.
Anyways, here are the rules for how I picked this hypothetical team. I’m picking 23 players, as the team is only allowed to register up to 3 players over age 23, mostly for leadership purposes, and latching onto the overage guys feels silly. I didn’t pick guys like Alessandro Bianco, who’s getting regular Serie B minutes; I’m only taking players who’d realistically feature at this level and not a higher one. With that out of the way, let’s dive into a Fiorentina B team for the first time in half a decade.
GK Niccolò Chiorra: The 22-year-old is a Fiorentina academy product who moved to Grosseto for €350,000 back in 2021 before immediately moving to Empoli, but has been loaned to a succession of Serie C clubs since. Currently the starter for Lucchese, he’s been steadily improving since leaving Florence, but the fact that he stayed in Tuscany indicates that he always wanted to stick around his hometown of Bagno a Ripoli.
GK Mattia Fallani: He’s worked his way to be the number one for Renate in Serie C and has enjoyed a solid season for the mid-table outfit. It’s a nice redemption arc for a guy who never turned out for Fiorentina at any level after U17; he’s the exact sort of late bloomer a B team could have benefited.
GK Simone Ghidotti: The former U20 international is on loan at Avellino in Serie C from Como after leaving Fiorentina on a free in 2022. He started about half of Como’s games in Serie B last year but wasn’t great, hence the step down for this season. He’s had several good years in the third tier and has been considered a good goalkeeping prospect since his teenage years.
CB Eduard Duțu: After his loan to Ancona saw him benched, he’s switched to Virtus Francavilla and seized a starting spot. That kind of turbulence usually isn’t good for a player’s development, as it’s his 4th team in the past 2 years. Duțu’s a really promising player with excellent athleticism and technique. He just needs consistency.
CB Dimo Krastev: He’s on loan with Serie B’s Feralpisalò but it’s not going well, as he’s made just 4 appearances and hasn’t looked good at all. Part of the problem, of course, is that he’s still learning how to play in central defense after switching from central midfield about 18 months ago. Giving him another season to figure out his new position and work with the same coaching personnel would doubtless have benefited him quite a bit.
CB Filippo Marenco: Hey, remember how I mentioned that Duțu’s time at Ancona failed? Marenco is part of why, as he pushed past the Romanian on the depth chart. Now, though, he’s out of the team and looking at a move of his own, possibly to Albinoleffe, as he’s dropped out of manager Gianluca Colavitto’s plans. Like Duțu, he just needs consistency.
CB Jakob Vadstrup: Spent 2021-2022 with the Primavera then immediately moved back to Denmark with Helsingör, where he’s operated as a backup. Looks like he has all the qualities to make it in a top league, if everything breaks right, and maybe a path out of the youth setup would’ve kept him in Italy instead of legging it for the second division in his home nation.
RB Davide Gentile: The latest in the line of talented rightbacks to roll off the Primavera line, Gentile has moved to Fiorenzuola on loan instead of sticking with the Primavera. He’s already established himself as a regular and looks like a player with a good future, possibly one that could reach Serie A. He needs to fill out a bit before he’s ready to be a full-time player, but his technical ability is already well past the necessary target and he’d do well to stick close to home, where Fiorentina’s staff could help him grow.
RB Gian Marco Neri: A versatile piece who’s worked in midfield and on the wing, Neri’s settling in as a fullback now. He left Fiorentina when he aged out of the Primavera, signing with Livorno, but just went to Vis Pisaro on loan in hopes of getting more minutes. It’s working, as he’s been subbed into all 4 games since the switch, and should be working his way into the XI as he familiarizes himself with Simone Banchieri’s setup.
LB Tommaso Messini: This one may be a bit of a stretch, but there aren’t a lot of other options at leftback out there. Messini never popped for the Primavera, so it’s no surprise the brass let him leave for Grosseto, where he failed to make an impression. He’s now at Montevarchi in Serie D and seems to be finding his feet, although he’s playing on the left of a back three rather than as a pure fullback.
LB Federico Simonti: The 23-year-old has firmly established himself in Serie D, which is no surprise considering that he locked down a starting job in Serie C when Fiorentina loaned him to Pistoiese back in 2020. He didn’t show quite enough to earn a senior contract with the Viola but his breakthrough into the Primavera was exactly the profile that deserved a little more time with his parent club.
CM Lorenzo Aprili: After catching the eye with a pair of goals in the Viareggio tournament in 2022, Aprili hasn’t quite kicked on. He was unspectacularly solid for Prato in Serie D last year and is offering more of the same for Grosseto this year. The question is whether he’s ready to step up from the 4th tier.
CM Giovanni Corradini: After a breakout season with the Primavera a couple years ago and a solid showing in Serie C with Pro Vercelli last year, Corradini’s current loan move to Spezia hasn’t gone well at all. He’s yet to make an appearance, indicating that Serie B may have been too much, too soon. He’s still learning the craft of the regista after starting his career as a 10, so an extra year or two in Serie C to learn the ropes is likely what he needs, much like his youth teammate Krastev.
CM Malik Djibril: At just 20, he’s already a Togo U23 international and looks like an interesting prospect. He’s also established himself as a regular for Lucchese, although more as a substitute than a starter. He needs to get stronger, as you’d expect of someone his age, and the state-of-the-art facilities in Florence would probably suit him better than anything in the third tier.
CM Mattia Fiorini: The 22-year-old is on loan at Foggia and, after a slow start, has started 3 of the last 5 for the Satanelli. Equally comfortable in central defense, he spent the past couple years at Fiorenzuola and clearly has what it takes to play at this level. His contract runs out this summer, but it would’ve been nice to watch his growth a little closer to home and see if there’s anything there after a sterling Primavera career.
AM Vittorio Agostinelli: Like Corradini, he tried making the jump to Serie B with Lecco and, after playing just 26 minutes, has since dropped down a level to get some minutes with Virtus Francavilla in Serie C. That’s the exact trajectory a B team is made for: a player who showed promise with the Primavera but isn’t quite ready to strike out on his own.
AM Marco Meli: He was a terror with those marvelous Primavera sides, riding shotgun with guys like Dušan Vlahović, Riccardo Sottil, Gabriele Gori, and Tofòl Montiel. Without those stars to take the attention off him, he’s never hit similar heights but has started taking steps in Serie C, scoring a couple of goals already for Juve Stabia this year. Fiorentina kept him on the books until 2021, but he always had enough talent to keep around another couple of years and see if he made a leap.
RW Yuri Bigozzi: The Florence-born 20-year-old is taking his first steps away from the Primavera at Poggibonsi. He’s starting to settle in, scoring 3 goals in the past couple months and becoming a regular starter. He’s probably not quite at Serie C level, but there weren’t a lot of wingers that met my criteria and his versatility—he’s filled in on both wings, as a 10, in central midfield, and as a rightback—means he might slot in elsewhere, too.
RW Ciro Capasso: The 21-year-old hasn’t broken through on loan at Sorrento but had some impressive moments over a 2-year career with the Primavera. A left-footer who can operate through the middle, he’s got good technical qualities and pace but needs to get stronger and learn to pick his spots. He’s every bit the sort of player who piques the interest, but not enough to offer a full senior contract.
RW Destiny Egharevba: The 21-year-old is at Recanatese in Serie C and playing a rotational part. Although he had some eye-catching moments with the Primavera, he relies too much on his athleticism and needs to develop technically and tactically. He spent last year at Vis Pesaro and Fiorenzuola, which probably didn’t help his development. More than a lot of the guys on this list, he needs some stability to let him learn a single system and role and really figure out the game.
RW Giovanni Nannelli: The 23-year-old Tuscan has been hurt all year, making just a single appearance, but the Cavalucci Marini haven’t missed him as they swim to the top of Girone B of Serie C. He played a minor role for Montevarchi last year and is, health permitting, probably ready for a steady role at this level. He was never more than solid with the Primavera but could still kick on.
CF Samuele Spalluto: The former kickboxer looks to be on the Gabriele Gori path, having impressed with the youth but not made the transition to the pros yet, largely because he can’t get away with simply being stronger than everyone else. He wasn’t able to get in the goals despite starting a bunch of games for Monopoli, so they’ve sent him to Trento for the remainder of the year. While it just hasn’t worked for him yet, he’s got an almost frightening determination and work ethic that, if nothing else, would inspire his teammates. It’s not like he’s trash, either; Monopoli paid €250,000 for him last year, and it feels smarter to let him develop in-house and see if he can put it together rather than just cutting bait.
CF Eljon Toci: He’s on the books until 2026, earning a deal with a double-digit goal season at Primavera level a couple years ago. This is his first move away from Florence and it’s gone poorly; he couldn’t make an impact for Sestri Levante and will try his luck at Pro Sesto now. He’s got the physical attributes but needs experience, like many of the other guys on this list. And like them, it makes more sense to let him develop within the Fiorentina system rather than send him all over Italy on loans.