Pending the Chinese paperwork's arrival (which also held up the official announcement of Alessandro Diamanti), Alberto Gilardino is once again a Fiorentina player. The 32 year old journeyman striker and 2006 World Champion joined Guangzhou Evergrande in 2014 in a move that seemed to signal the decline of his competitive career, only to be summoned - apparently directly by the Della Valle brothers - to return to Florence.
Gilardino has reportedly agreed to an 18 month deal with Fiorentina, with an apparent clause that promises to negotiate a beginning to a career in the club management upon retirement. Considering that Gila apparently also turned down offers from Cagliari, Parma, and Sassuolo - where he would have almost definitely gotten more playing time - to return to Florence, it seems that he was very eager to revive and deepen his ties with the club where he had his purple patch (sorry). Gilardino bagged 48 goals over 4 seasons in Viola, most notably notching 10 in European competitions, a tally only equaled by one Batistuta.
It is unclear how much playing time Gilardino will find in Florence, given the desire to get Mario Gomez firing and the continued growth of Khouma Babacar. With Giuseppe Rossi and Federico Bernardeschi also returning to fitness in the spring, he might find his chances quite curtailed; or, to say it another way, I hope they will be. All the same, the move appears to be a decent bargain addition to the depth of the squad (I would rather have him on the bench than, say, Mounir El Hamdaoui), and one that highlights a renewed desire by the club to find players with strong ties to Florence in this transfer window.
I personally very much like the idea of Gilardino trucking along and getting a couple substitute goals, and then joining the off-the-field organization maybe as soon as next year. It is certainly not a glamor signing, or one that will likely make any difference in our bid to challenge for the Champions League, but it's rather nice from a sentimental perspective, and quite cheap. So welcome back Alberto, give us some reasons to cheer!