Khouma Babacar and Federico Bernardeschi both emerged from Fiorentinaai??i??s primavera ranks. They were co-owned by Modena and Crotone respectively last season, but La Viola re-signed both of them this summer.

In the summer of 2013 when Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade finalized the signings of both Guiseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez, it undoubtedly looked a significant coup for the La Viola. While there was no doubt that both Rossi and Gomez represented big name signings with plenty of experience at European and international level, the investment of ai??i??24 million on both the players remained a big gamble.

Rossiai??i??s talent as a goalscorer is unquestionable but his injuries remain a major hurdle in his career. The Italian has been troubled by consistent knee problems since his cruciate ligament tear in 2012 while representing Villareal in Spain. The injury forced him out of action for almost 2 years.On the other hand, Mario Gomez lost his place to Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic in Bayern Munich and played a minor role in the treble winning campaign of the Bavarians. One of the major reasons for this poor form was an injury which kept him out for the opening two months of the new season and he never recovered his sharpness.

Rossi and Gomez enduring a frustrating season with incessant injuries

Rossi and Gomez enduring a frustrating season with incessant injuries

Both Rossi and Gomez unfortunately endured an injury-plagued season last year with Gomez picking up a knee injury in September and Rossi missing the entire second half of the season following a recurrence of his knee problem. The Italian could not regain fitness before the World Cup while Gomez was overlooked as well. It was up to the Fiorentina board to address this growing concern but no reinforcements arrived in the forward department. The likes of Fabio Borini, Gonzalo Bergessio and Fabio Quagliarela were linked but ultimately Vincenzo Montella had to be content with two rookies, Khouma Babacar and Federico Bernardeschi, who have been recently dubbed the new ai???B2ai??i?? in Florence.

There was a sense of dAi??jAi?? vu as Guiseppe Rossi was ruled out till the New Year after yet another knee problem while Mario Gomez started the season sluggishly and suffered a knock which has seen him out of action for the last few games. As expected, Montellaai??i??s men experienced goalscoring problems at the start of the season and fans were beginning to raise questions about the decision to overlook this glaring issue at the start of the season. Trailing by a goal at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to a strike from summer target Fabio Quagliarela, Montellaai??i??s side were heading for their second defeat in five games when a delightful reverse from Bernardeschi released Babacar who expertly finished to earn Fiorentina a vital point against Torino. More importantly it was a much needed goal to boost Babacarai??i??s confidence.

Born in Senegal Babacar began his career in his home town of Thies. He was spotted by Pescara at the tender age of 14, but his spell with the Delfini was cut short in 2008 when Fiorentina secured his signature. After spending a year with the primavera during which he was summoned to train with the senior team, Babacar made his debut in the Coppa Italia. Ironically his first Serie A goal was against Genoa, the club which was very close to securing his signature. After that he had spells with Racing Santander, Serie B sides Padova and Modena. Last year he scored 20 goals in 41 games for the Canarini helping them reach the play-offs.

Babacar has already scored 4 goals this season

Babacar has already scored 4 goals this season

Quick and agile, Babcar has a big frame for his age and he is often used as a ai???spondaai??i?? in Montellaai??i??s scheme of things. He is strong in the air winning two thirds of the aerial duels this season. He has excellent close control and his wonderful strike against Inter in match week 6 highlighted his eye for the brilliant. The instinctive hit past Handanovic displayed his uncanny ability to find the net even without glancing towards the goal. His shots per goal ratio this season stands at 6 and he has already scored 4 goals this season.

When former Italy manager Cesare Prandelli included Crotoneai??i??s Fedreico Bernardeschi in the provisional squad for the World Cup doubts were raised regarding a virtual unknown player but Prandelli reassured everyone that he believed Bernardeschi was one of the best in his role at this moment in Italy. A Carrara native like the present Azzurri captian Gianluigi Buffon, Bernardeschi had reportedly turned down the chance to join Manchester United in 2011 as his family felt it was not the right time to move to such a high profile club. Bernardeschi joined Fiorentina as a nine-year old and has been regarded as one of the most exciting prospects for some time now. After impressing in the Pulcini and Allievi Nazionali youth categories, he graduated to the Primavera and promptly grabbed the headlines by scoring 17 goals in 22 games in 2012-13 season. The gratitude shown towards Fiorentina who treated him well since his youth has been vindicated this season as he is now a part of the senior team.

Bernardeschi was a key figure in Azzurrini's successful qualifying campaign

Bernardeschi was a key figure in Azzurrini’s successful qualifying campaign

A loan spell with Crotone was arranged next year where Bernardeschi once again put on an impressive show with nine goals and five assists in 31 appearances. Despite being used as a trequartista during his time as a youth player at Fiorentina, Bernardeschi showcased his attributes as an inverted winger in Massimo Dragoai??i??s 4-3-3 last year in Serie B. His preference for cutting inside onto his deadly left foot has drawn comparisons with Alessandro Diamanti. Luigi Di Biagio has also used Bernardeschi in this position where he was a protagonist in the Azzurriniai??i??s successful 2015 Euro u-21 qualifying campaign. Montella knows he has a potential gem in his ranks and will be closely monitoring the growth of a player with solid technical ability, accurate shooting, blistering pace and excellent dead ball skills. His principal rival for a place in La Violaai??i??s side is Juan Cuadrado although he can play upfront as a forward as well. Bernardeschi recently had a surgery to stabilize the fracture on his left malleolus and is expected to be back in 5 months.

The inevitable comparisons with ‘B2’ have already been started by the media. Roberto Baggio and Stefano Borgonovo were part of La Viola folklore having scored 29 goals between them in the 1989-90 season helping Fiorentina qualify for the Uefa Cup. The duo was much loved by the fans and had an everlasting impact on the tifosi. However caution must be observed while putting too much pressure on the ‘Nuovo B2’. Both of them are talented but they are definitely not ready to carry Montella’s team on their shoulders. The pair might evoke memories of Baggio and Borgonovo’s famous partnership but they must be allowed to mature slowly. The quality difference between Serie B and Serie A is significant and it takes time to make the step up. Fiorentina manager Montella has little to choose from at this moment and he is trusting Bernardeschi and Babacar to lead the line. They are doing their best to grab this opportunity and establish themselves as capable performers in Serie A.

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