Szymon Żurkowski hasn’t had any easy start to life in Fiorentina, playing a total of 10 minutes despite any obvious shortfall in midfield. Therefore, the club’s announcement that he’ll leave on a dry loan to Empoli until the end of the year makes a lot of sense, as the Poland U21 star should immediately earn minutes with the neighbors.
It’s hard not to see this move as a clear indication that another midfielder—likely Alfred Duncan of Sassuolo—is en route, as this leaves just 4 central midfielders in the squad. It’s a bummer for everyone (including me) who thought that Żurkowski was a perfect fit in the Viola midfield: an energetic presence, a strong ball-carrier, a solid passer, and an adequate defender. However, he was unable to leapfrog Marco Benassi in the pecking order under Vincenzo Montella or Giuseppe Iachini, leading to whispers that he’d leave on loan.
The 22-year-old should find plenty of space with Empoli, where he’ll compete with the likes of Davide Frattesi, Jacopo Dezi, Samuele Ricci, Viola academy product Filippo Bandinelli, Leo Štulac, and recently-arrived Hellas Verona loanee Liam Henderson. With respect to those players, none bring the combination of athleticism and skill that Żurkowski possesses, and he should quickly establish himself as a starter for new boss Pasquale Marino as he tries to stave off a second consecutive relegation.
Empoli have a strong track record with Polish players over the past few years, with Łukasz Skorupski, Piotr Zieliński, and Fiorentina’s own Bartłomiej Drągowski all coming into their own in the Tuscan town. In contrast to the Viola’s own work with Polish players—Drągowski’s years behind Marco Sportiello and Alban Lafont, Rafał Wolski’s impossibly high expectations, Jakub Błaszczykowski’s struggles to adapt to wingback (how the heck is Artur Boruc the most successful thus far?)—the Azzurri seem to be the perfect landing place for the Tychy-born man, and we expect him to tear up Serie B before returning to Florence and staking a claim to a big role next year. Powodzenia, Szymon.