Fiorentina’s officially begun their traditional preseason camp at Moena. The village nestled in the Dolomites is famous for its natural beauty, but Viola fans know it best as the place where they watch friendlies against amateur sides and get way, way too excited about teenagers who excel in low-intensity matches against, hm, sturdily-constructed middle-aged plumbers.
Still, let’s not trample on any hopes just yet. Indeed, let’s take a look at the players Vincenzo Italiano has called up for the camp. Expect a few late additions (Pierluigi Gollini? Luka Jović? Dodô?) to filter into Alto Adige in the coming days, but for now, here are the 36 dudes who hold Fiorentina’s hopes for the coming season.
Michele Cerofolini: The Arezzo-born 23-year-old has risen all the way through the Viola academy but has spent the past 4 years bouncing around on loan. While he had a promising season with Reggiana in 2020-2021, he failed to beat out veteran Matteo Pisseri at Alessandria last year. His deal runs until 2023 and he’s not likely to feature for the first team this year, so this is his chance to earn another loan move to Serie B in hopes of landing a starting gig.
Bartłomiej Drągowski: You all know the deal. Saint Bartholomew of the Follicles is on his way out, with Fiorentina having already rejected an €8.5 million offer from Torino. He’ll probably play sparingly to make sure he doesn’t pick up an injury that would make him tougher to sell. It’s a goddamn shame that such a wonderfully talented goalkeeper has been frozen out this way, especially one that’s been a model citizen despite some very adverse circumstances. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Antonio Rosati: The most important member of the squad just signed a 1-year extension. He’ll probably get the odd half between the sticks in the friendlies, but his real job is to keep the mood light. Follow him on Instagram for antics, songs, and every possible delight that the preseason can bring you.
Pietro Terracciano: Last season’s number one will begin camp as the presumed starter, although Gollini could displace him within a week or two. Expect him to run with the starters unless management want to showcase a certain Polish international.
Igor: The Brazilian was one of Serie A’s breakout performers last season and will look to build on that momentum. He’ll be one of the first names in the XI and shouldn’t be troubled by any amateur sides, but don’t expect his intensity to drop as a result. The only real question is the circumference of his thighs; we’ll set the over/under at 70 cm.
Dimo Krastev: I’m listing the 19-year-old Bulgarian manchild as a central defender after his outstanding conclusion to the Primavera season, when Alberto Aquilani moved him back from midfield, but Italiano could try him in the engine room as well. Krastev’s got another year of eligibility with the U19s but could push for a loan move if he impresses.
Lucas Martínez Quarta: Last year’s third-choice centerback is likely to slide into the starting lineup if/when Milenković moves on, so his priority will be building a better working relationship with Igor. And, because it’s preseason, expect a few wild runs forward in hopes of quenching LMQ’s ever-present goal thirst.
Nikola Milenković: Fiorentina’s best defender probably isn’t going to spend the entirety of preseason with the team, much less the upcoming season, as he’s heavily linked to a move away. He’s a superb professional and should handle it well, but we’re going to miss him if he does indeed depart. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Matija Nastasić: Something of a forgotten man, the veteran is likely to stick with the Viola for the upcoming season given his minimal salary and contract expiring next year. He’ll get a bit of burn but should take a back seat for camp and the season. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Jacob Rasmussen: Remember him? The 25-year-old Dane has been on the Viola books since joining from Empoli for €7 million in 2019 and has yet to appear for the side. He’s suffered some injuries and illnesses but looked quite good for Vitesse last year. There’s a slight chance that he could replace Nastasić as the fourth centerback, especially since he’s left-footed, but he’s far more likely to leave either on loan or permanently; this is just another shop window opportunity for both him and Fiorentina.
Cristiano Biraghi: The club captain is firmly ensconced in the first team and is just here to build fitness. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Costantino Favasuli: A Primavera standout last season, the 18-year-old can play at leftback or on the wing, although his future is likely in the former position. This is more a reward for an outstanding year than a genuine tryout for the senior side, and he should spend 2022-2023 shining with the U19s.
Davide Gentile: Another 18-year-old fullback, although he plays on the right. A U19 international, he’ll probably spend the year with the Primavera unless a loan move comes available. He’s a highly-touted prospect, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs.
Niccolò Pierozzi: Edoardo’s twin brother had an outstanding campaign with Pro Patria last time out, scoring 8 goals and assisting another 4 as a storming right wingback. Now 20, he’s probably ready for a shot in Serie B and will be looking to prove it at Moena. While he can play on the wing, I think that his future is likely at fullback.
Aleksa Terzić: Will continue as Biraghi’s top backup barring any external reinforcements or a truly absurd preseason from Favasuli. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Lorenzo Venuti: Our beautiful sweet Lollo will start at rightback until Dodô shows up and will operate as the backup then. Also serves as an example to the youngsters as evidence of how perseverance can lead them to the first team.
Lorenzo Amatucci: The Italy U18 international is mostly here to make up the numbers, but it should be fun to see what he offers before he joins the Primavera, where he’ll try to replace Bianco and Corradini. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Sofyan Amrabat: With the departure of Lucas Torreira, he’s firmly established as the regista. If he can maintain the levels he hit for the final couple months of last year, that could prove to be an excellent decision; he’ll spend preseason refining his positional sense and buiding relationships with the rest of the engine room. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Marco Benassi: Somehow still only 27, Marco’s been sidelined for most of the past 2 seasons, managing just 20 appearances and 5 starts. After an unsuccessful experiment to turn him into a rightback last year, it’s tough to see him sticking around, so expect a loan move for him to materialize at some point.
Alessandro Bianco: Perhaps the most outstanding player for the Primavera last year, the 19-year-old is probably too good for the youth level now and should earn himself a move to a Serie B club for the upcoming year, safe in the knowledge that he just signed an extension through 2025.
Giacomo Bonaventura: Probably the most important midfielder in the team now that Gaetano Castrovilli’s going to miss much of the season, the focus for Jack should be staying fresh. He’s been a pro for long enough that he doesn’t have anything to prove.
Alfred Duncan: The cult favorite will be competing with Maleh for the third midfield spot, so keep a close eye on which of them runs with the starters over the next few weeks.
Erick: Probably didn’t expect to be in Moena after moving to Galatasaray on loan last year, but had a very difficult time in Istanbul and is probably looking at a fairly rapid exit. However, his possible involvement in a sexual assault in Chile could delay any deal until the judicial system has worked through the case; it sounds like he’s fully cooperating with the investigation and we’re not going to comment on it until we’ve got more information. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Youssef Maleh: Although Castrovilli’s injury is catastrophic for Fiorentina, it opens a door for Maleh to vault into the XI. More naturally attacking than Duncan and possessed of a rare motor, he’ll serve, at worst, as the fourth midfielder.
Rolando Mandragora: The newest signing has said all the right things so far and mentioned in his press conference that he sees himself as a regista, so he’ll likely back up Amrabat, although he could also play farther forward. How Italiano deploys him is one of the top story lines of the summer.
Szymon Żurkowski: Despite an outstanding season on loan at Empoli, the noisy neighbors didn’t trigger their clause to buy him. Italiano mentioned him by name as one he watned to monitor at Moena, so there’s a chance that the Big Z could stick with the Viola, although he’s likely behind Duncan and Maleh in the pecking order right now and has everything to prove. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Filippo Distefano: An outstanding Primavera attacker who’ll probably return to Aquilani’s boys at the end of camp, Distefano’s a live-wire dribbler who’s often a bit too eager to shoot. I think he looks much better on the right but he can play pretty much anywhere in the attack.
Nicolás González: As of now, he’s Fiorentina’s key attacker. The only real question is whether he’ll play on the left or the right. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Jonathan Ikoné: Should push his way into the starting lineup after a rocky first half season with the club, although Italiano does love him some Rickinara so nothing will be handed to him.
Riccardo Saponara: Just signed a contract extension that will keep him in Florence for another year. Should do his usual thing on the left wing, although don’t be shocked if he takes a few reps in central midfield against the amateur sides.
Riccardo Sottil: Feels like his third consecutive make-or-break year, but it really might be this time. Likely to begin with the second team and probably won’t unseat either González or Ikoné, so should set his sights on squeezing past Saponara as the third winger. Because he’s such an outrageous athlete, he always sparkles in the preseason. If he can convince Italiano and company that he’ll continue that form into the regular season, he’ll be on the right track.
Arthur Cabral: Currently slotted in as the starter, King Arthur will work on developing a rapport with his wingers and creating ever more elaborate graphics for his matchday tweets.
Gabriele Gori: The 23-year-old Florence native is out of contract at the end of the year, so he needs to show out here if he wants a new deal. Got off to a flying start with Cosenza last year in Serie B, scoring 3 in his first 5, but only scored 2 more before going out with injuries after December. Has all the tools and needs to show that he’s putting them together, as well as that he’s fully healthy.
Aleksandr Kokorin: Sigh. There’ve been rumors of interest from Russian clubs and talk of a contract buyout, but it sounds like he’s set to continue his Tuscan vacation. And, in case you thought he was reforming his scumbag ways, was photographed on a jet ski date with a 16-year-old model last month. He’s 31. Again, what a fucking scumbag.
Christian Kouamé: Enjoyed a good year with Anderlecht, scoring 13 and assisting 10. He showed enough to earn his way back into the Côte d’Ivoire setup, making a couple of AFCON appearances and scoring his first senior international goal. Now almost 2 years removed from his catastrophic knee injury, he could be worth a long look as a backup striker and direct threat off the left wing. Joining the squad on 9 July.
Eljon Toci: The top scorer for the Primavera is here to round out the numbers but should be fun to watch due to his infectious energy and surprising all-round game. Likely to drop back down to the Primavera for another year but could be a long-term investment, so watch closely.
GK Simone Ghidotti: The 22-year-old was solid for Gubbio last year and, having just extended his contract for another year, has drawn interest from Serie B and Serie C.
CB Filippo Frison: A regular for the Primavera last year, the 19-year-old should have a loan move ironed out in the next couple of days.
RB Gabriele Ferrarini: The Italy U21 international was brilliant for Perugia last year and has attracted interest from all over the peninsula, with Hellas Verona and Cremonese reportedly leading the pack. Could be in line for a contract extension before he leaves.
LB Luca Ranieri: He was quite good for a woeful Salernitana defense last year, so it’s surprising that Italiano doesn’t think he’s worth a look. Sampdoria have supposedly been sniffing around, so maybe he’s closer to the exit than we think.
CM Giovanni Corradini: Fresh off captaining the Primavera to glory in the Coppa Italia, the very promising 19-year-old has just signed an extension and is ready for a loan to Serie B or Serie C.
CM Mattia Fiorini: The Bagno a Ripoli native used to watch games from the Curva, but with a contract expiring at season’s end, he’s probably going to slip away. Expect a loan move to a Serie C team.
CM Alessandro Lovisa: It sounded like Pordenone were going to buy him after a good loan season (especially since his brother Matteo works in the front office), but the 20-year-old is looking for a temporary home instead.
AM Vittorio Agostinelli: One of the more exciting Primavera talents just signed a new contract and is heading to Reggina on loan.
AM Tòfol Montiel: Now 22, it feels like the ship’s sailed for him in Italy amidst rumors of a return to boyhood club Mallorca.
LW Christian Koffi: The 21-year-old attacker was solid but unspectacular in Ligue 2 last year. He’ll probably look for a similar move this time around.
CF Louis Munteanu: The highly-touted Romanian youth international wasn’t able to displace Toci with the Primavera last year, so a loan move to Serie C makes sense now that he’s aged out of the youth setup.
CF Samuele Spalluto: The former kickboxer exploded with Gubbio last year when finally given a chance, scoring 9 goals in his 20 starts, and is close to a temporary move to Ternana in Serie B.