Riccardo Saponara

Riccardo Saponara
Saponara in 2013
Personal information
Full name Riccardo Saponara
Date of birth (1991-12-21) 21 December 1991
Place of birth Forlì, Italy
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
(on loan from Fiorentina)
Number 5
Youth career
2000–2004 Sammartinese
2004–2007 Sporting Forlì
2007–2009 Ravenna
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2009 Ravenna 2 (0)
2009–2013 Empoli 84 (12)
2013–2015 Milan 8 (0)
2015–2017 Empoli 68 (14)
2017– Fiorentina 29 (2)
2018–Sampdoria (loan) 0 (0)
National team
2009 Italy U18 3 (0)
2009 Italy U19 1 (0)
2011–2013 Italy U21 22 (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17 August 2018
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 26 February 2013

Riccardo Saponara (Italian pronunciation: [rikˈkardo sapoˈnaːra]; born 21 December 1991) is an Italian footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Sampdoria, on loan from Fiorentina.

Club career


Born in Forlì to parents from Palazzo San Gervasio, Basilicata, South Italy,[1] Saponara started his professional career at Ravenna. In January 2009, he was signed by Empoli in a co-ownership deal for €700,000.[2] In June 2010, Saponara was signed by Empoli outright for another €550,000.[3]

Empoli and Milan

Originally played as a winger, Empoli manager Maurizio Sarri switched him into a central position behind the strikers in the 2012–13 Serie B season to devastating effect as he grabbed 13 goals and 15 assists in 40 appearances for the club. He led Empoli to the Serie B promotion play-off finals where they lost to Livorno.

In January 2013, Milan signed the 21-year-old Saponara from Empoli[4] on the condition that he remained at Empoli until the end of the season. Milan paid €3.75 million for his co-ownership on a 4½ year contract,[5][6] which Parma signed Empoli's half for €2.6 million in summer 2013.[7][8] He played just 218 minutes of Serie A football spread across seven league games, failing to contribute any goals or assists in the 2013–14 season. In June 2014, Milan acquired Parma's half for just €1 million.[8]

Return to Empoli

On 16 January 2015, Saponara returned to Empoli with the formula of the loan with the right of redemption.[9] He made his comeback for the club four days later in Roma - Empoli 2–1 in Coppa Italia. He made comeback in the league ten days later in Empoli's 1–2 defeat to Udinese, opening the scoring with a penalty kick; his first goal in Serie A and his second during his experience in Tuscany. On 22 March 2015, he scored his first brace in a 3–1 home win over Sassuolo. On 13 May, his contract was redeemed by Empoli for a reported €4 million.[10]


On 28 January 2017, Saponara was loaned to Fiorentina until the end of the season with an obligation to buy him out at the end of the loan deal.[11]

Loan to Sampdoria

On 17 August 2018, Saponara joined Sampdoria on loan from Fiorentina (the deal which includes an option to purchase is a one-year loan contract).[12]

International career

Italy under-21

Saponara made his debut with the Italy national under-21 football team on 8 February 2011, in a 1–0 win over England.[13] He scored his first goal for the under-21 side on 13 April, in a 2–0 win over Russia.[14] Saponara was chosen by former manager Ciro Ferrara to take part in the Toulon Tournament in May 2011, where he appeared in all of Italy's matches, helping the team to win a Bronze medal.[15] He was also elected to take part at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with Italy, under manager Devis Mangia,[16] and he scored a goal in Italy's second group match against hosts Israel, in a 4–0 win, which qualified the Italians for the semi-final.[17] Saponara made 3 appearances throughout the tournament, helping Italy to reach the final, where they were defeated 4–2 by Spain.[18] Overall between 2011–2013, he has collected 22 appearances, scoring 3 goals for the "azzurrini".

Style of play

A talented attacking midfielder, Saponara is a creative playmaker, who is also capable of playing on the wing, or as a central midfielder.[19] A strong, fast and hardworking player, with good technical ability, he is known for his skills and balance on the ball, as well as his determination, eye for the final pass, and ability to time his attacking runs, which allow to both score and create goals. His style of play and precocious performances as a youngster during his time in Serie B drew occasional comparisons to his idol Kaká.[20][21][22]

Career statistics

As of 20 May 2018[23]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup Total
Empoli 2010–11 Serie B 18000180
2011–12 30130331
2012–13 4013004013
Total 8814309114
A.C. Milan 2013–14 Serie A 700070
2014–15 100010
Total 800080
Empoli 2014–15 Serie A 17710187
2015–16 33510345
2016–17 18210192
Total 6814307114
Fiorentina 2016–17 Serie A 11200112
2017–18 18020200
Total 29220312
Career total 193307020030


  1. Giancarlo Filiani, Talenti di origine lucana crescono, Terra di Basilicata, 4 June 2015
  2. Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2009 (in Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
  3. Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2010 (in Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
  4. "Galliani, arriva Saponara dall'Empoli; Milan: bivio Mesbah, se va c'è Zaccardo". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 9 January 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  5. Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2013 (in Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
  6. 2013 bilancio AC Milan (in Italian)
  7. Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2014 (in Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
  8. 1 2 Parma FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2014 (in Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
  9. "Preso Riccardo Saponara" (in Italian). Empoli FC. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  10. http://www.calciomercato.com/news/il-milan-perde-saponara-809320
  11. "SAPONARA E' UN CALCIATORE DELLA FIORENTINA". it.violachannel.tv (in Italian).
  12. "Riccardo Saponara signs on loan from Fiorentina - U.C. Sampdoria". U.C. Sampdoria. 2018-08-17. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  13. "PAGELLE / Italia-Inghilterra Under 21(1-0): cronaca, tabellino e pagelle" (in Italian). 8 February 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  14. "Under 21, Italia-Russia 2-0: Tanta fatica e un pò di fortuna, e nel finale arriva l'uno-due firmato da Saponara e Gabbiadini" (in Italian). Goal.com. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  15. "UNDER 21, Gli azzurri convocati per il Torneo di Tolone". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  16. "I convocati di Mangia" (in Italian). UEFA.com. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  17. "Europei under 21: Italia-Israele 4-0, azzurrini già in semifinale ma Insigne va ko" (in Italian). La Repubblica. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  18. "Under 21, la Spagna è troppo forte Gli azzurrini di Mangia crollano 4-2" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  19. "Saponara a Forza Milan!: "Meglio da trequartista ma va bene anche l'esterno"" (in Italian). MilanNews.it. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  20. "Saponara-Milan nel nome di Kakà Ecco chi è il nuovo talento rossonero" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  21. "Generazione di Fenomeni - Riccardo Saponara, da scheggia dell'Empoli a 'top young' nel Milan... ricordando Kakà" (in Italian). Goal.com. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  22. Kris Voakes (13 January 2013). "'The Kaka of Serie B' - Introducing new AC Milan starlet Riccardo Saponara". Goal.com. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  23. "R. Saponara". Soccerway. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
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