Saponara in 2013
|Full name||Riccardo Saponara|
|Date of birth||21 December 1991|
|Place of birth||Forlì, Italy|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 27 January 2015.
Riccardo Saponara (born 21 December 1991) is an Italian footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Empoli. He is also capable of playing on the wing, or as a central midfielder. A strong, fast and hardworking player, with good technical ability, his style of play has drawn occasional comparisons to his idol Kaká.
Saponara started his professional career at Ravenna. In January 2009 Saponara was signed by Empoli F.C. in co-ownership deal for €700,000. In June 2010 Saponara was signed by Empoli outright for another €550,000.
Empoli and Milan
citation needed] in the 2012-13 Serie B season to devastating effect[according to whom?] 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 on the condition that he remained at Empoli until the end of the season. Milan paid €3.75 million for his co-ownership in 4½year contract, which Parma signed Empoli's half for €2.6 million in summer 2013. He played just 218 minutes of Serie A football spread across seven Serie A matches, failing to contribute any goals or assists in the 2013-14 season. In June 2014 Milan acquired Parma's half for just €1 million.
Return to Empoli
On 16 January 2015 he returned to Empoli with the formula of the loan with the right of redemption. He made his debut four days later in Roma - Empoli 2-1 in Coppa Italia. He debuted in the league ten days later in Empoli-Udinese 1-2 opening the scoring on a penalty kick; his first goal in Serie A and his second during his experience in Tuscany. On 22 March he scored his first brace, in the match at home to U.S. Sassuolo Calcio 3-1. On 13 May 2015 his contract was redeemed by Empoli for a reported €4 million.
Saponara made his debut with the Italy national under-21 football team on 8 February 2011, in a 1-0 win over England. He scored his first goal for the under-21 side on 13 April, in a 2-0 win over Russia. 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. He was also elected to take part at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship with Italy, under manager Devis Mangia, 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. Saponara made 3 appearances throughout the tournament, helping Italy to reach the final, where they were defeated 4-2 by Spain. Overall between 2011–13, he has collected 22 appearances, scoring 3 goals for the "azzurrini".
- As of 6 April 2013
- "Saponara a Forza Milan!: "Meglio da trequartista ma va bene anche l'esterno"". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "Saponara-Milan nel nome di Kakà Ecco chi è il nuovo talento rossonero". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "Generazione di Fenomeni - Riccardo Saponara, da scheggia dell'Empoli a 'top young' nel Milan... ricordando Kakà". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2009 (Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
- Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2010 (Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
- "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.
- Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2013 (Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
- 2013 bilancio AC Milan (Italian)
- Empoli FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2014 (Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
- Parma FC SpA bilancio (financial report and accounts) on 30 June 2014 (Italian), PDF purchased from Italian CCIAA
- "Preso Riccardo Saponara" (in Italian). Empoli FC. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- "PAGELLE / Italia-Inghilterra Under 21(1-0): cronaca, tabellino e pagelle". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "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". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "UNDER 21, Gli azzurri convocati per il Torneo di Tolone". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "I convocati di Mangia". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "Europei under 21: Italia-Israele 4-0, azzurrini già in semifinale ma Insigne va ko". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "Under 21, la Spagna è troppo forte Gli azzurrini di Mangia crollano 4-2". Retrieved 16 January 2015.