Mirko Valdifiori

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Mirko Valdifiori
Valdifiori selfie - 2016.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth (1986-04-21) 21 April 1986 (age 31)
Place of birth Russi, Italy
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Central Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Torino
Number 5
Youth career
Cesena
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2008 Cesena 3 (0)
2006–2007 Pavia (loan) 24 (0)
2007–2008 Legnano (loan) 17 (0)
2008–2015 Empoli[1] 234 (4)
2015–2016 Napoli 7 (0)
2016– Torino 24 (0)
National team
2015– Italy 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 28 July 2017.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 31 March 2015

Mirko Valdifiori (born 21 April 1986) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Torino.

A Cesena youth-product, he began his career with the senior side in 2004, but was sent on loan to Serie C sides Pavia and Legnano, before moving to Serie B side Empoli in 2008. With Empoli, he became the sixth most capped player in the team's history and helped the team achieve Serie A promotion in 2014. He made his debut in the Italian top division the following season, and his performances throughout the year earned him a transfer to Napoli in 2015. Following a successful first season in Serie A with Empoli, he also earned his first international call-up in 2015, making his Italy debut the same year.

Club career

Cesena

Born in Russi, Romagna, Valdifiori started his professional career at Romagnol club Cesena. A former member of the club's youth system, his debut for the Cesena senior side came on 14 May 2005, in a 3–3 away from home draw with Genoa, during the 2004–05 Serie B season. He made one further appearance that season, in the last round. The following season, the 2005–06 season, the youngster made just one appearance, coming off the bench. In order to gain more playing time, he went out on loan to Pavia for the 2006–07 season, where he made 24 Serie C1 appearances that season. The following season he went out on loan once more, this time to Legnano, who were then in Serie C1, and made 17 appearances for the side that season. The 2007–08 Serie B season also saw the relegation of Cesena to the Lega Pro Prima Divisione (formerly the Serie C1).

Empoli

In June 2008, Cesena sold Valdifiori to Serie B team Empoli in a co-ownership deal for €520,000.[2][3] The defensive midfielder immediately became an important part of the first team at Empoli, playing 32 games during the 2008–09 season, as Empoli achieved a Serie B playoff spot for promotion, but unfortunately lost out to Brescia over two legs. In June 2009 Empoli signed Valdifiori outright for another €800,000.[4][5]

The 2009–10 Serie B season was similarly strong for Valdifiori, who made 36 appearances and even managed his first professional goal - the 2nd in a 2–0 win over his former side Cesena.

In the 2010–11 Serie B season, Valdifiori remained a vital part of the Empoli set up, appearing in 38 matches, including his 100th for Empoli which came against Novara on the 8 April 2011. He also scored a career high two goals that season, with both of his strikes earning draws for his side.

In the 2011–12 Serie B season, the midfield maestro sat out for a long period of time, missing rounds 21–36 of the Serie B season due to injury. Empoli finished in the relegation playoff zone this season, but fortunately managed an aggregate 3–2 win over Vicenza to remain in Serie B the following season.

Empoli had a successful 2012–13 Serie B season, surprising everyone by managing to turn around their form from the previous season, thanks to the presence of a healthy Valdifiori, whose presence throughout the season was vital to the team's performances. The holding midfielder made 42 appearances, scoring 1 goal and providing 6 assists. Empoli finished in the playoff spots and beat Novara in the first playoff round, but lost to Livorno in the following stage of the playoff, falling one step short of promotion to Serie A.

Empoli finally achieved Serie A promotion during the 2013–14 Serie B season, which saw Valdifiori play a key part in the team's success, as he managed 8 assists in 40 appearances that season.

In the 2014–15 Serie A season, Valdifiori finally made his Serie A debut in a 2–0 loss to Udinese on the first match-day of the season. In the club's fourth-Round fixture against A.C. Milan, he was sent off after receiving two consecutive yellow cards in the 85th and 86th minute. In his Round 6 return against Palermo, he assisted twice to help his side to a 3–0 win over Palermo, their first Serie A win that season. He captained Empoli for the first time in Round 19, in a 0–0 draw against Internazionale.

Napoli

After having a very successful first season in the Italian top flight with Empoli, which saw him earn his first call up for the Italian national team by manager Antonio Conte, Valdifiori officially joined Napoli on 20 June 2015[6] for a reported fee of €5.5 million, where he was reunited with his former Empoli coach Maurizio Sarri, also becoming the manager's very first signing at the new club. Valdifiori signed a four-year contract which will earn him €900,000 a season.[7]

Torino

On 31 August 2016, after having played as a starter for Napoli in the first round of the season, he was purchased outright by Torino.[8]

International career

In March 2015, Valdifiori was called up by coach Antonio Conte to the Italy squad for the first time, for a Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria, and a friendly against England.[9] On 31 March 2015 he made his debut in the latter match against England, starting the 1–1 draw at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, and making way for Marco Verratti after 67 minutes.[10]

Style of play

A creative, right-footed central midfielder with good vision, Valdifiori's preferred role is as a deep-lying playmaker in front of the defence, where he is able to utilise his passing ability to set the tempo of his team's play, and create scoring opportunities for team-mates. Although he is not known for scoring goals, he is an accurate set-piece taker, renowned for his ball delivery from free-kicks.[11] His style of play is inspired by Andrea Pirlo.[12]

References

  1. ^ 242 (4) when considering the play-offs and play-out.
  2. ^ AC Cesena SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2008, PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA (in Italian)
  3. ^ Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2008, PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA (in Italian)
  4. ^ AC Cesena SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2009, PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA (in Italian)
  5. ^ Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2009, PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA (in Italian)
  6. ^ "Visite mediche e firma del contratto per Mirko Valdifiori" (in Italian). SSC Napoli. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Dowley, Conor (2015-06-18). "Mirko Valdifiori is in: Napoli agree €5 million transfer fee for Empoli midfielder - The Siren's Song". Thesirenssong.com. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  8. ^ "Valdifiori al Toro | TORINO FC 1906 SITO UFFICIALE". Torinofc.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  9. ^ "Nazionale, Conte chiama Eder, Vazquez e Valdifiori per Bulgaria e Inghilterra" [National team, Conte calls up Éder, Vázquez and Valdifiori for Bulgaria and England]. La Gazetta dello Sport. 21 March 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Italy 1-1 England". BBC Sport. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Michele Furlan (18 March 2015). "TATTICA DEL MERCATO - Milan e Napoli, Valdifiori: esperienza e qualità a centrocampo" (in Italian). Calcio Mercato. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Guido Barucco (24 March 2015). "Italia, Valdifiori: "Un orgoglio essere qui, ho tanto da imparare. Pirlo il mio modello. Futuro? Piedi per terra"" (in Italian). Retrieved 4 August 2015. 

External links

  • Football.it Profile (in Italian)
  • Mirko Valdifiori at ESPN FC
  • Mirko Valdifiori at Soccerway
  • La Gazzetta dello Sport Profile (in Italian)
  • Mirko Valdifiori at National-Football-Teams.com
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