Not the only familiar face in the Italian second tier

7 forgotten ballers we can’t believe are still playing in Serie B

Former Liverpool, AC Milan, Leeds United, Arsenal and Wolves stars are among the forgotten footballers still playing their football in Serie B in 2023-24.

It’s been quite the year in the Italian second division. Parma have achieved promotion and are on the verge of sealing the title. Como look set to join them in Serie A in 2024-25, while the likes of Venezia, Cremonese, Palermo, Sampdoria and Brescia are battling it out for the play-offs.

Here are seven familiar faces that have turned out for clubs in the Italian second tier this season.

Adrian Bernabe

Is it possible to be forgotten at the age of 22?

You may remember Bernabe from his fairly hyped time in the youth ranks at Manchester City. Four and a half years have passed since he became one of Pep Guardiola’s youngest-ever debutants, a late substitute in a routine 3-0 League Cup victory over Oxford United.

The Barcelona-born La Masia graduate made a further four appearances for City, all in the cups, but played less than 90 minutes overall before he was released in 2021. That summer he signed for recently relegated Parma and has spent the last three seasons developing his skills in the Italian second tier.

It looks as though he’ll be playing his football in Serie A next season, having played a key role in Parma’s promotion. He’s notched eight goals and four assists in 33 Serie B matches this season.

Every aging millennial Football Italia watcher has a soft spot for Parma. Bernabe, now realising his potential, will be one worth keeping an eye out on their return to the Italian top flight next season.

READ: Where are they now? The 10 youngest players handed their debut by Pep Guardiola

Emiliano Viviano

Capped six times for Italy well over a decade ago, 38-year-old Viviano boasts a wonderfully well-travelled career – Brescia, Cesena, Bologna, Inter, Palermo, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and SPAL – as well as a few stops further afield – Arsenal, Sporting, Fatih Karagumruk.

After leaving Turkey last year, the veteran ‘keeper signed a one-year contract to keep on going in Serie B with Ascoli – who currently find themselves hovering precariously around the relegation zone.

Has anyone called him the Poundland Buffon before? If not we’re coining it.

Patrick Cutrone

The 26-year-old striker’s CV features one cap for the Azzurri, one failed transfer to Wolves and a further three underwhelming loan stints away from Molineux.

Once highly thought of when he was breaking through the ranks at AC Milan, Cutrone was sold to his hometown club Como at a considerable loss in the summer of 2022. He’s scored 14 goals in Serie B for them this season.

You might be aware of Como as the club in which Dennis Wise serves as president and Cesc Fabregas ended his playing career before moving onto the coaching staff. You’ll likely be hearing a lot more about them, given they’re one win away from sealing promotion.

READ NEXT: 5 forgotten ballers we can’t believe are playing in the Spanish Segunda Division

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every club in La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga & Ligue 1 in 2023-24?

Ronaldo Vieira

If you’d taken a straw poll of Leeds United fans back in the summer of 2018, they’d have likely told you that Vieira showed greater promise than fellow academy graduate Kalvin Phillips.

Marcelo Bielsa saw things differently. Leeds cashed in on Vieira to the tune of £6million and put their faith in Phillips, who played a massive role in Leeds’ promotion, has featured in two major tournaments for England and earned a big-money move to Manchester City.

The less said about the last couple of years, the better.

But what became of Vieira? The former England Under-21 international remains at Sampdoria, six seasons on. He’s had an up-and-down time of it, with frequent injury issues and a couple of failed loan stints away.

The midfielder featured regularly for Andrea Pirlo’s promotion-chasers in the early weeks of the 2023-24 campaign, but an adductor problem has left him sidelined since September.

Dennis Johnsen

If you clocked up tons of hours playing Football Manager between the years of 2017 and 2019, chances are you’ll remember Johnsen as a much-vaunted wonderkid with bags of potential.

The Norwegian winger was at Ajax at the time the likes of Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie de Jong were emerging, although in real life he never quite broke through to make more than a handful of appearances for Erik ten Hag’s exciting young side.

In 2020 he signed for hipster favourites Venezia, where he notched over a hundred appearances, before moving on to their Serie B rivals Cremonese in January.

Fabio Borini

We’re kind of a bit stunned that Borini isn’t still playing in the Turkish Super Lig. Everything about the former Milan, Sunderland and Liverpool attacker screams Super Lig.

But after an excellent three-year stint with Fatih Karagumruk (35 goals in 75 appearances), Borini joined his compatriot Viviano in returning home last summer.

Given his 19 Turkish Super Lig goals last season, there was hope that the 33-year-old could fire Sampdoria to promotion. But he’s not been quite so prolific this year, scoring just six times for seventh-placed Samp.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the clubs these 20 former Liverpool stars are playing for in 2024?

Simone Verdi

A product of the AC Milan academy. Four caps for Italy. No fewer than 11 clubs represented in his home country, including multiple stints with Milan and Torino. It’s as if we asked ChatGPT to produce the classic Italian journeyman and this is what it came up with.

The attacking midfielder has spent almost his entire career in Serie A, with a so-so record of 37 goals and 32 assists in 231 appearances, and he’ll be back there next season. Como’s promotion is imminent.