Facing Empoli with Inter Milan this evening, wingback Federico Dimarco will once again encounter an important stepping stone in his career.

This is highlighted in today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, via FCInterNews.

26-year-old Italian international Dimarco is a player whose path to the Inter first team has not been a straight one.

It is true that Dimarco is a player who came through the Nerazzurri’s youth academy.

But the 26-year-old did not simply burst onto the scene at Inter.

Rather, Dimarco developed at a series of other clubs.

First, it was Ascoli in Serie B. Then, in the 2016-17 season, Dimarco got his first taste of top flight football at Empoli.

Inter then sold the young wingback to Sion in the Swiss top flight – but inserted a buyback clause into his contract.

The Nerazzurri did exercise that buyback option.

Then, Inter sent Dimarco out on loan to Parma and then Hellas Verona. It was there, playing under Ivan Juric, that the wingback really proved himself capable of shining in Serie A.

That earned Dimarco a place in Inter’s first team after two seasons at the Gialloblu.

Having been something of a versatile squad player in his first full season with the Nerazzurri, in the last two, he has been one of the key men for Simone Inzaghi’s team.

Empoli An Important Stepping Stone For Federico Dimarco

Dimarco didn’t impress with Empoli the way he would later do playing for Verona.

Unlike at the Gialloblu, the Italian was never quite a first-choice starter for the Tuscans.

Rather, Dimarco was a backup for the veteran Manuel Pasqual on the left.

But that does not mean that the 26-year-old’s experience with Empoli was not important. Nor that he never played.

Far from it, Dimarco made a total of thirteen Serie A appearances during the 2016-17 campaign with Empoli. These totalled 766 minutes.

Considering that was Dimarco’s first season playing regularly in the top flight, it was vital experience for him to build on.

Now, the Inter wingback will face a familiar opponent once again.

Dimarco has scored twice against Empoli since leaving the club. This included his stunning long-range winner in the first meeting this season.

Of course, the 26-year-old will have all the motivation in the world to try and score again, or otherwise help his team – Inter have a Serie A title to win.

But that won’t mean that Dimarco won’t feel gratitude for the role that Empoli played in his development.