For the last couple of seasons, Koni De Winter has been one of those young players who has ridden the proverbial train between Juventus senior and Under-23 squads. Getting more playing time in Serie C but also filling a need for depth when necessary, the young Belgian is very much a known commodity despite only a handful of Serie A appearances to his name thus far.
He’s about to get a full season in Serie A.
Juventus announced Sunday that the 20-year-old De Winter has joined Empoli on a dry loan for the 2022-23 season. It comes exactly one day after De Winter agreed to a new contract with Juventus, signing a deal through 2026, adding two more years onto his previous contract that ran through 2024. De Winter, who had undergone his preseason medicals with Juve earlier in the week, had been a part of the small group that had already begun training under the watch of Max Allegri, but will now head to Tuscany for his first-full season of Serie A experience.
De Winter, who first joined Juventus from Zulte Waragem in Belgium in 2018, appeared in 22 Serie C games and 31 appearances overall for Juve’s U-23 squad last season. He also battled a shoulder injury that kept him out for nearly two months right after the winter holiday break. While he didn’t record any Serie A minutes last season, De Winter did appear in a pair of Champions League fixtures, including a start at right back against Malmö in the group stage final on Dec. 8.
De Winter finds himself in the same kind of position that a handful of Juve’s other young prospects are in coming into the 2022-23 season — not quite ready to challenge for a spot with Juve’s senior team but certainly ready for some sort of role in Serie A.
And that’s where the loan deal comes in. De Winter will still very much have to prove himself with Empoli — which finished 13th in Serie A last season — but will get the chance to do it from the beginning of the 2023-23 campaign. Plus, knowing full well that Empoli finished with one of the worst defenses in Serie A a year ago, there is very much the chance to impress his new team simply based on being better than what was there last year.
So now, as preseason training begins for just about everybody, the loan deals will start rolling in. And De Winter is the first of those who can truly benefit from a season away from Turin because there’s much more of an opportunity for playing time out there than here.