From its inception in the summer of 2017, the project at Fiorentina was very clear; reduce the wage bill by offloading more experienced and established players, replacing them with young and hungry alternatives.
Sporting director Pantaleo Corvino did just that, introducing a mixture of unknown and slightly more established youngsters, handing Coach Stefano Pioli with the task of assembling this new group into a team. The side have enjoyed mixed results since then, but what’s for certain is that the squad contains individuals with a big future ahead of them.
What follows here is a look at some of those young stars, who make up part of the youngest squad in Europe’s top five leagues.
Nikola Milenkovic (Here)
An unexpected star for Serbia at last summer’s World Cup, Nikola Milenkovic will reportedly have scouts from Manchester United watching him at Fiorentina’s match away to Bologna this weekend. Even at just 21 years old, the 6’4” tall defender – who can play in the heart of the defence or at right-back – is good in the air, plays with pace and positional awareness and is accurate in the tackle.
He was signed in summer 2017 for just £4.5 million, however, such has been his improvement that the Viola will be looking for a fee in excess of £40 million, should they allow him to leave in January.
Jordan Veretout (Here)
Recently stated that he models his game on that of compatriot N’Golo Kante, Frenchman Jordan Veretout is in the form of his life at Fiorentina. Having flopped at Aston Villa, the 25-year-old is currently adapting to life in a more defensive midfield role, his performances so impressive that it has been rumoured he will soon receive his first call-up to a France senior side already laden with talent.
Three goals and one assist so far this season adds to a tally of eight strikes in total last term, his talent from set pieces and penalties clear to see. Rumours have linked the midfielder with a move back to his native France, however Veretout looks more than comfortable in Tuscany for the moment.
23 Years 357 Days – In each of the last five Serie A campaigns Fiorentina have reduced their average age until becoming the youngest team in the 2018-19 season. Progression. pic.twitter.com/1FUxZcJ86v
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) November 14, 2018
Federico Chiesa (Here)
Already on the radar of some of Europe’s top sides, Federico Chiesa is blessed with a huge amount of raw natural talent and has an exemplary pedigree as the son of former Italy international Enrico Chiesa. At just 21 years old, he still has much to learn, his decision-making not always up to what it should be. Similarly, Fiorentina are all-too-often guilty of an overreliance on his ability, however the results are set to be spectacular when these problems are eventually ironed out.
This player is also set to be the future of the Italian national team, Chiesa the only player to have played every game for the Azzurri under new boss Roberto Mancini. Having grown up in Florence, it will not be easy for the forward to leave the club, however his talent may eventually take him to a place impossible to turn down.
Giovanni Simeone (Here)
Giovanni Simeone is another famous son to be a regular in Fiorentina’s starting XI, any rumours of a move to join his father Diego at Atletico Madrid soon quashed by either of this pair. His 14 goals during 2017/18 prompted a maiden call-up to the Argentina side at the beginning of the current campaign, however domestically the 23-year-old is currently in the midst of a frustrating goal drought.
His last strike was back on September 19th away at Sampdoria, and Pioli had run out of patience by the match with Torino earlier this month, dropping Simeone to the bench. “I was not satisfied with his recent performances and there were other players who had impressed me more during the week,” the Coach admitted to reporters at the time.
Alban Lafont (Here)
Dubbed the “French Gianluigi Donnarumma” by reporters ahead of his summer move to Fiorentina, 19-year-old Alban Lafont has gone straight into the first team at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Plagued by some understandable early mistakes, the former Toulouse man has still shown his clear ability as a shot-stopper, playing a key role in a sturdy defence that has only allowed ten goals against them in 12 matches this season.
To put this into context, only Juventus (eight) have let in less, and it is clear that this Frenchman has a bright future ahead of him.