We just talked about the Fiorentina roster bloat that needs to be addressed shortly, and Pantaleo Corvino has acted. The upshot is that no fewer than four Viola youngsters are headed out to Serie C on loan. While none of them were exactly assured of being first team regulars, they’re a promising bunch and we’ll be monitoring their progress with interest. Without further ado, we’ll give you a quick rundown of each.
The 19-year-old Bulgarian centerback rose up through the academy at Levski Sofia before he moving to Slavia Sofia (where his twin brother Andrea still plays), earning a spot in the first XI in 2016, prompting Fiorentina to offer €1.7 million for his services last summer. He spent the year with the Primavera and looked pretty good doing so. He’s a big, rugged defender who reads the game fairly well and relishes the physical side of his craft. At Moena, he looked a bit shaky and uncertain on the ball, so the loan move seems like the correct choice.
Ternana looks like a decent destination for him, as they’ll be competing for promotion after dropping out of Serie B last year. He’ll have to pass up former Viola defender Modibo Diakité, as well as veterans Daniele Gasparetto and Dario Bergamelli. It’s a bit of an ask for a teenager, honestly, but we think that Hristov is up for it. After all, he just got called up for the Bulgaria U21s, and you don’t tend to see players skip an age level or two in the international setup unless they’re pretty dang good. This is a good way for Fiorentina to test his quality in a pretty low-risk manner; his contract runs until 2022, so we could be seeing a lot more of Petko Hristov.
The 19-year-old centerback is a Florentine through and through. The son of Marco Baroni, a Fiorentina academy product who played all of 4 minutes for the senior side back in 1982 and was most recently the mister at Benevento, Riccardo rose through the ranks of the Primavera. While he’s never the biggest or fastest, you can tell that he’s a coach’s kid because he sees the pitch quite well and rarely makes bad decisions. He showed quite well last year in Serie C with Lucchese, making 28 appearances and earning 3 caps with the Italy U20s.
He’ll be taking a slight step up this time out. Virtus Entella were relegated from Serie B last season and are looking for a quick return to the second tier. The defense wasn’t the problem, however, as the partnership between former Michele Pelizzer and one-time next-big-thing Simone Benedetti proved fairly solid. If Baroni wants to play serious minutes, he’ll have to pass up one of them. Much like Hristov, this is an opportunity for Fiorentina to see if he has what it takes to keep him on the books.
The 19-year-old winger is another Primavera lifer. Last year, he notched a goal and an assist in 7 appearances, all off the bench. Such is life when you’ve got the likes of Riccardo Sottil, Marco Meli, Erald Lakti, and Josip Maganjić in your preferred position. If we’re being totally honest, he’s not very likely to ever crack the Viola XI.
That’s why Cuneo is a solid spot for him to land. The Aquile are likely to be stuck in a relegation scrap all year, having won promotion to Serie C in 2016 and just barely hung on last year. He’ll have every chance to earn a role in manager Cristiano Scazzola’s plans, and could benefit tremendously from a strong showing. Since his contract runs out at the end of the year, he’s likely auditioning for anyone who’s watching; some promising performances will allow him to sign another pro contract, assuming that Fiorentina lets his deal run out. We wish him nothing but the best.
I’ve made no secret of my (possibly unhealthy) love for Andy Bangu in the past. The 20-year-old Congolese midfielder is a dynamic force in the middle of the pitch, a bundle of energy and confidence who always wants to take on a player and charge into attack. However, the former Atalanta prospect seems to have stalled out a bit over the past two years. He showed some promise on loan to Reggina in 2016, but was not very good last year at Vicenza, where he was unable to nail down a regular role. I cannot even begin to explain how sad this makes me.
New outfit Matera has used manager Lorenzo Cassia’s 3-4-3 formation for two years, but isn’t returning any of the midfielders from last season; this is a huge chance for Bangu to grab a starting role and tear up Serie C until everyone else can see what I see: that he’s a star and wonderful and deserves more recognition as a monstrously fun player. Failing that, I really hope that he impresses enough to convince Corvino that he deserves a contract extension. His current deal runs out at the end of next season, so he should feel a bit of urgency to show something this year.