What happened: The 20-year-old French goalkeeper joined Fiorentina from Toulouse this summer for €8.5 million, and the world saw it as a coup. After all, Lafont was viewed as the most promising young goalkeeper in France and the eventual successor to Hugo Lloris with the national team. It looked like an absolute steal by Pantaleo Corvino.
Lafont, though, was still a teenager when he signed on, and he absolutely played like it at times. He made numerous mistakes earlier in the year with his passing, most notably with his distribution—at Chievo Verona, at SPAL—and has also shown a really concerning habit of deflecting shots and crosses directly into the middle of the area—vs AS Roma, vs Sampdoria, vs Atalanta, vs Sassuolo. On the other hand, he’s also produced some absolutely riveting, superhuman saves, so it’s a bit of a wash altogether.
Final stats: 38 appearances (38 starts), 46 goals conceded, 10 clean sheets, 2 yellow cards
What’s next: It’s possible that he’ll move onto a bigger club this summer and Fiorentina probably wouldn’t mind if a mega-offer came in, given the cheaper options available in the side, but he should be back again next year. If he shows serious improvement in 2019-2020 (which we’re rather expecting), though, he’s probably gone after that.
Final grade: C+ Needs to clean up the mistakes, but you expect some growing pains from a young goalie. If he does tighten up, he’ll be well on his way to being genuinely world class.
What happened: The 21-year-old Polish youth international started the season as the backup to Lafont, but we all knew that he was itching to get some playing time after being stuck on the bench for the past two years. While that itch was briefly scratched during a Lafont injury that gave Bart the job between the sticks for a few weeks—he was quite good against Napoli and Sampdoria—a move away always looked the likeliest outcome.
Sure enough, he trekked down the road to Empoli and immediately took over as the number one, raising some eyebrows with a string of strong performances, including an eye-popping 17 saves to keep a clean sheet against Atalanta. It’s a strong reminder that, despite his exile over the past couple seasons, he’s a class player and was once seen as the obvious heir to the Poland number one shirt. He was as crucial as anyone to the late and ultimately futile push from the Azzurri to stave off relegation.
Final stats: 3 appearances (2 starts), 2 goals conceded, 1 clean sheet, 0 cards
Best moment: Duh. It’s the record-setting 17 saves against Atalanta. Here are a few of them.
What’s next: While there are certain segments of the fanbase that would prefer him to Lafont, it’s tough to imagine the club giving up on a 20-year-old it signed for €8.5 million a year ago. That means that the Dragon is probably going to be sold; Roma has been mentioned as a possible destination, but he’d be a great buy for a mid-table club in England or Germany as well.
Final grade: B+ Starting to look like the player we thought he was when he signed on back in 2016. He’s clearly a capable goalkeeper in Serie A and, at 21, has room to grow into a lot more, even if he doesn’t do so in Florence.
What happened: The 29-year-old was part of the Drągowski deal in January. We didn’t really expect much of a journeyman who’d played all of 10 games in Serie A; he was supposed to be a backup who’d allow youngsters Simone Ghidotti and Federico Brancolini to focus on the Primavera. However, he stepped in for Lafont for a couple of weeks and produced a really impressive performance against Lazio to earn a point, making several huge saves. While he wasn’t as good against Cagliari the next week, his “out of nowhere” heroics were a good reminder that anyone who plays this game for a living is probably very, very good at it.
Final stats: 2 appearances (2 starts), 3 goals conceded, 0 clean sheets, 0 cards
Best moment: The string of saves against Nazio is definitely the pick here.
What’s next: He’s heading back to Empoli, who now have to figure out if he’s their future between the sticks or if they should sell him when his value is highest. Either way, he managed to jumpstart his career with a single performance, so good on him. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
Final grade: C+ He was certainly better than expected, but only made two appearances.