The 2012-2013 Fiorentina season can be divided into three simple sections: the Lustrous Era of the 3-5-2, DARKNESS, and the Resplendent Age of the 4-3-3. What was discovered in the transition to the 4-3-3, you might ask? An absolutely fearsome Adem Ljajić.
Ljajić suddenly thrived in what I will call (for the sake of brevity) the "David Silva-style" winger role. Adem is not a true winger but is really a hybrid trequartista who was probably groomed to play in the classic number 10 role before the position suddenly started disappearing in the early 2000s. Deployed in a wider role, Adem was suddenly able to run at defenses from new angles and fully exploit his dribbling talents. Ljajić also recovered confidence in his shot, and his 10 goals from February-on were crucial to Fiorentina finishing their campaign strongly. Surely in doing so he solidified his worth to the Viola attack as a permanent starter, right?
But something unexpected happened. Fiorentina purchased Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez from Malaga. Well, actually, we almost stole him, purchasing him well beneath his valuation from a nearly-bankrupt Spanish club, all of which sounds familiar. For those who don't know, Joaquín is not your typical 2 million Euro signing (a typical €2m signing, in my head, looks something like this picture of Simone Pepe). Between club and country, Joaquín has played in every major international European competition. In fact, I completely forgot that Joaquín was the man who played THE cross to Spain's absurdly denied go-ahead goal against South Korea (a minute in here) in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup... And he then missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out. He was 21 at the time.
Since then the right winger has won the Copa del Rey with Betis, played in the Champions League, captained Valencia into the Europa League, and returned to the Champions League as an instrumental part of last year's Malaga side. Not bad, right? In terms of his technical qualities, he is a bit slower than Cuadrado, but just as tricky with the ball at his feet, and he is better in the air and in front of goal (just don't let him shoot penalties). I would argue that unless Joaquín's fitness is a real issue, this is someone who should be in the starting lineup about 50% of the time, right?
The most intriguing thing about this purchase is how it could change Fiorentina's set-up tactically (if he starts). Sure Joaquín generally plays on the right wing, which belongs to our Vespa, Juan Cuadrado. Cuadrado is definitely a fixture in this team, whose loan Fiorentina has just renewed (and I expect him to be signed outright by the end of the summer). BUT Cuadrado never runs out of gas, and he often plays on the left for Columbia, right? Montella could now elect to play two pure wingers, and have cover with the recent purchase of another winger, Yakovenko.
So is Montella looking for a team with traditional wing-play in order to give more room for a box poacher and Giuseppe Rossi combination in the middle (playing a 4-2-3-1)? Or is Joaquín merely providing cover for Cuadrado, and Montella will remain intent on maintaining the multiple trequartista attack from last year ? What is the right kind of winger for next season? And how does it change the rest of the team's setup?
Perhaps I am making left of right, but this discussion brings my thinking back to Adem Ljajić... A player who has been playing slightly out of position, and may suddenly find himself fighting for playing time. Again. While the team appears to be filling gaps in positions that suit a different formation, with Josep Ilicić and Massimo Ambrosini rumored targets. And Ljajić is now starting to enter his prime. And Ramadani is his agent, just like Jovetić. And he still hasn't signed a new contract. And his contract expires in a year, and no one is at all interested in a repeat of the Montolivo saga, where the player could walk away for free. Right? Right.
Most of this is purely speculative. Adem Ljajić could fit in very well both wide and in the middle of a 4-2-3-1. But if nothing else, at least ponder these last questions: Fiorentina's front line selection next season could easily include Ljajić, Cuadrado, Pepito, *insert box poacher striker here?*, Joaquín, and the suddenly-maybe-not-departing-?-because-Juve-signed-Tevez Jovetić... who would sit on the bench in this Fiorentina attack? And why?
Other Viola News Snippets
Bild once again reported today that Mario Gomez has reached an agreement with Fiorentina. But it's Bild. Nevertheless, the news on Gomez to Florence has suddenly become hot again after a week and a half of cold water from various sources. Other sources also linking the Viola with the 31 year old and confusingly Argentine Atalanta poacher German Denis.
Tomović has been purchased outright in a sealed bid auction for about a million and a half Euros (file under: weird things that happen in Serie A, file under: yay!)
Fiorentina officially signed a back-up goalkeeper to replace the outgoing Neto in veteran Gustavo Adolfo Munúa Vera (known as Munua) on a free transfer from Malaga.
David Pizarro is apparently on vacation after playing for the Chilean national team, but despite being away he has lately been rumored to be closer to another season in Florence. Talks with his agent have been "productive" and no team has made a minimum-asked €5 million bid.
Alessio Cerci has made Fiorentina a bit richer, with Torino buying him outright in a surprise move before sealed bid auctions were due to start. The purchase was for an alleged €4m. Fiorentina also added Toro midfielder Marko Bakic, who wins the award for strangest WikiPic.
We have new training tops! I am very indifferent about them! But I will likely do a report card for the new kits when they come out, because I am that obsessive.