The Fiorentina Femmenile Transfer Bonanza of 2020 marches on with the addition of Martina Zanoli, formerly of Orobica, on a two-year contract. The versatile 18-year-old defender is one of Italy’s top young prospects at the back and should push for playing time right away on the left side of the defense.
With Davina Philtjens having moved to Sassuolo, there’s a spot open at leftback for the Viola; while Zanoli is very young, she could seize the position with a strong preseason, although she’ll have to see off competition from Martina Fusini, who backed up Philtjens last year.
Even if it takes Zanoli a year to settle in, she’s one of the most exciting young defenders on the peninsula. She’s happy to push forward and play as a wingback or even as a wide midfielder because she’s good on the ball, but it’s her work on the back foot that makes her stand out.
Not too long ago, I went through the Serie A Femminile stats for last season, and I discovered this:— I'm a Sandwich (@amicus_arcane) July 31, 2020
Zanoli led the league in defensive duels, as she won 16.03 per game (61%) all season.
And to think, she's only 18 years old.
Zanoli potrebbe un grande colpo per la Viola. https://t.co/kGrfyt0xJG pic.twitter.com/L4KmwbQvQT
That’s a crazy statistic, but it makes a bit more sense when you realize that Zanoli made her professional debut aged just 17 for Atalanta Mozzanica. While Orobica suffered through an astonishingly bad season—a single point from 16 games while conceding 51 goals—you can’t pin that on Zanoli, who led the team in minutes played and often looked like the Sharks’ best player, although she was prone to the occasional lapse. Which is fine. To repeat: she’s only 18 years old and already a top-notch pro.
A U19 international, she should settle in fairly quickly, especially with Azzurrine teammate Chiara Ripamonti working next to her in training. Playing alongside someone like Louise Quinn is just icing on the cake; surrounded by a defense that was one of the league’s best last year, she should grow in leaps and bounds. There’s a pretty good chance that Zanoli lines up at leftback for the opener this year and stays in that spot until the final game. This is a solid move for the present, and a tremendous move for the future. Welcome, Martina!