In what looks like the final business of the summer transfer window for Fiorentina, the club has picked up 18-year-old Gabriel Bocchio on loan from RB Salzburg. Gianluca di Marzio reports that, if the Viola trigger the clause (which as yet remains unknown but is probably somewhere around €1 million), they’ll sign the player to a 5 year contract. Rumor is that Corvino saw off competition from several clubs in Italy and Germany for the teenager.
Gabriel Bocchio is a former Brazil U17 international who joined the prestigious Red Bull academy before he was a teenager. He made just four appearances with the RB Salzburg Primavera last year, totalling an assist in his 69 (nice) minutes. As you may have guessed, he’s probably not going to make an appearance with the senior side this year.
That’s not to say we’re not excited, as Bocchio looks like he could be a good one, although I’m basing that opinion almost entirely on the only footage I’ve been able to find of him, which is of him tearing things up for the RB Salzburg U15s and U17s. While it’s a bit of a fool’s errand to predict a player’s success as a pro on his schoolboy record, there are a few conclusions that I’m pretty comfortable drawing from this 17 minute collection of clips.
Bocchio is a robustly-built 182 cm (5’10) and looks like he could add some more height before he’s done. While he lacks world-class pace, his foot speed is adequate enough to threaten a high defensive line. His workrate is fantastic: there are numerous examples in that video of him dispossessing defenders or even goalkeepers by closing down furiously. He shoots well with either foot, but his right is definitely stronger, and he occasionally struggles to finish chances you’d like to see him bury (although he’s pretty dang reliable for the most part). He’s not an aerial threat in the box, but he scores a few headers and, as he fills out, might improve in that department.
The two areas where he shines are his workrate and his linkup play. I really didn’t expect to see a teenager who was so creative with the ball, either holding it up and flicking it onto his teammates or unselfishly playing runners in; combined with his penchant for unleashing missiles from distance, he’s got a better chance than most to actually make it to the top of the heap. He combines some of the best qualities of Nikola Kalinić and Mauro Zárate, to put it in Fiorentina-centric terms. He could very well end up as the starting striker for the Primavera from day one; Slovenia U19 international Nino Kukovec will probably serve as his principle competition. If he settles in well, he could be a star in short order. We’ll be keeping a close eye on him.