Nobody expected Jacopo Petriccione to stick with Fiorentina this year. The central midfield is pretty crowded right now, with Milan Badelj, Jordan Veretout, Marco Benassi, and Carlos Sánchez scrapping for two places. It makes sense, then, that the promising youngster would be sent elsewhere to prove himself, and that’s exactly what’s happened.
Bari looks like a good place for the former Italy U19 international. Besides a pair of former Viola players in Mattia Cassani and Giuseppe Scalera, the Galletti play the sort of neat, passing football that will play to Petriccione’s strengths. Manager Fabio Grosso likes a 4-3-3 with skillful players in the center. He won’t be handed a place, as the likes of Andrés Tello, Migjen Basha, Aniello Salzano, Luca Marrone, and Massimiliano Busellato form a strong cadre, but don’t bet against Petriccione to beat the odds and become a key cog. It’s what he does.
Last year with Ternana, for example, he made 35 league appearances (28 starts), and stacked up a goal, 5 assists, and 10 bookings. It’s that last one that’s of greatest interest; in previous years, his slight frame and limited athleticism have forced him to foul all too often in order to slow down opposing attacks. Now, though, he seems to have finally developed the strength to play at the base of midfield to match his intelligence.
And he is a clever player. Never the fastest or flashiest, he’s got a knack for finding space in the middle of the pitch and pinging the ball all over the place. Under the tutelage of Fabio Liverani—who, as you may recall, had a very similar profile—with the Feri last season, he blossomed into a box-to-box schemer, always looking to pass and receive, and was perhaps the best player in the team.
His size and lack of athleticism are against him, but he’s been an integral part of every team he’s ever played on, from the Primavera to Pistoiese in Serie C to Ternana in Serie B last year. This is a great challenge for him and I hope he surmounts it; it’s hard not to love the schemer in the middle who gets by with intelligence, patience, and technique. This may be Petriccione’s ceiling, but he’s the sort who’ll still be playing professionally when he’s approaching 40, and we’re sorry to see him go, even though Fiorentina will make a percentage of all future fees on the player.