The Mohammed Salah soap opera has quieted but is ongoing, although it appears the drama has not hurt relationships between Fiorentina and Chelsea, who seem willing to accommodate their Viola friends by potentially offering another player on loan, a thing which becomes possible when you are owned by an oligach and have a talent surplus.
Today Viola News has given us an overview of some of the names that Fiorentina may be looking at under the amusing title "Fishing in Lake Chelsea". Based on my own extremely superficial scouting of these players, I will give an overview over whether or not they could potentially be a good fit for Fiorentina.
It is important to acknowledge none of these guys are nearly as talented as Salah. They maybe aren't as full of themselves too.
Dominic Solanke (Striker, 17, England): An U-18 England international, Solanke is allegedly highly regarded by Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho - known for his love of big, physical strikers - but he faces heavy competition for opportunities to break into Chelsea's first team. Solanke is in many ways a traditional English forward, athletic and hard working, but he has the skill to also play as a winger or midfielder.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? Well, we could use another forward, but English players don't have a good track record in Serie A lately, even if many of us saw some untapped potential in Micah Richards last year. Besides that, while we could use the help, we have our own young forward starlet in Babacar (and Bernardeschi, hopefully), who has earned additional playing time from the start of the season.
Nathan Aké (Defender, 20, Netherlands): A product of the Feyenoord youth system, Aké is in many ways the prototypical Dutch "total football" utility player, a defensive minded player who can play anywhere in the back line or as a holding midfielder. He has previously been compared to Ruud Gullit, but since moving to Chelsea in 2012 he has stagnated. He spent last season on loan at Championship club Reading for a month to get more playing time, where he made 5 starts.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? Aké is exactly the kind of player we could use, a holding midfielder with technique who can hold his own physically, and his ability to play in the back line only increases his value. His lack of experience makes him a wild card for a starting role, but he'd be an ideal utility player.
Victor Moses (Winger, 24, Nigeria): A little older than the previous two, Moses is a high flying winger/forward and decent goal scorer who previously starred for Wigan before moving to Chelsea in 2012. After a few forgettable years for Chelsea and on loan at Liverpool, he had an excellent season for Stoke City last year under Mark Hughes. It is believed that Stoke wants to keep him, but Chelsea may have other plans.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? While Moses is another player who seems best suited for the EPL (notice his best seasons were for very English, kick and rush teams), he's a speedy player who could potentially fit Sousa's philosophy of rapid counter attacks from the flanks, and without Salah we are desperate for some more speed. Bonus points for the biblical puns that come with having a player names Moses.
Loïc Rémy (Forward, 28, France): One of the most established and experienced players on this list, Rémy is a French internatonal who can play both striker and winger who has bounced around England and France showing glimpses of brilliance without fully living up to is talent. His former manager at Newcastle, Alan Pardew, allegedly wants to bring him to Crystal Palace, but Chelsea might be interested in getting him out of England.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? Unlike most of these other names, Rémy is actually a proven goal scorer in both the Premier League and Ligue 1, and potentially would be an immediate starter for Fiorentina, either as a CF or in a supporting role. Of course as a result there is likely competition for Rémy, including by teams who are willing to pay for him on permanent transfer.
John Obi Mikel (Midfielder, 28, Nigeria): Nigerian wonderkid who transferred to Chelsea under controversial circumstances just before his 18th birthday, the central midfielder is in many ways a warning to promising talent who get bought by big clubs at too young an age. Although Mikel has had a successful career at Chelsea, making over 300 appearences since 2006 and winning every major trophy with them, he never developed offensively as expected, being forced into a more defensive role than suggested by the hype of his 2003 U-17 World Championships performance.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? Mikel gives Fiorentina a solid option for the holding midfielder role, which is where he has mainly played for the past few seasons. He appears to already be on the decline, but if we fail to get Walace or another target, Mikel would give us a physical option for the midfield without destroying the centre technically.
Lucas Piazon (Forward, 21, Brazil): Probably the cloest thing to a direct Salah replacement, Piazon is a forward/left winger who doesn't have the speed of a certain Egyptian but makes up for it with that textbook Brazilian skill and flair, leading to lazy Kaka comparisons when he, like many players on this list, moved to Chelsea from São Paulo for approximately £5m in 2012, only to stagnate ever since his move to Europe. He spent last season on a disappointing loan with Eintracht Frankfurt (alongside Fiorentina
legend Haris Seferović), and has recently incurred the wrath of Chelsea fans by saying a return right now would be a "waste of time".
Would be be a good fit for Fiorentina? At this point Piazon could either be the next Salah for Fiorentina...or the next Andow. Unlike his countryman however, Piazon appears to be focused on his career more than the nightlife, and simply hasn't been given the opportunity to be a team's orchestrator.
Oriol Romeu (Midfielder, 23, Spain): A defensive midfielder who can also play CB, Romeu is a product of Barcelona's La Masia, with experience playing in the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga. Two injury plagued loan spells at Valencia and Stuttgart have slowed down his development, although when healthy he was the starting defensive midfielder for the latter last season.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? Fiorentina has certainly killed off the myth that Spaniards can't work in Italy, leading to a mini Spanish arms race between la Viola, Juventus, and Napoli. While comparisons to another bald Spanish midfielder who stalled his career by moving to England would be nice, it is unknown if Spaniard will feel as comfortable in Sousa's system as they did Montella's. While Romeu was relatively successful for a bad Suttgart team last year, I personally thought he was mediocre at best for Valencia in the 13/14 season. He doesn't do anthing exceptionally well, but he's a well rounded player who, despite my criticisms, would be an interesting option for the holding midfielder role.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Midfielder, 19, England): A 1.92m central midfielder compared with Chelsea teammate Nemanja Matić, Loftus-Cheek combines exceptional reach and anticipation with passing skills and a willingness to join the attack. A complete midfielder developing well deserved hype for his England U-21 performances, he nevertheless has already been criticized pubically by Jose Mourinho for not running enough. The English media has been reporting Fiorentina's interest in taking Loftus-Cheek on loan, so it is likely he would be one of the club's first choices.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? His lack of experience, especially outside of his home country, makes him a risk, but his upside is ridiculous, even if this is one player with virtually no chance of playing for Fiorentina beyond his loan. It might be worth it however, if he can adapt right away.
Patrick Bamford (Striker, 21, England): Another English forward, Bamford has spent the past two years on successful loan spells in the Championship for Derby County and Middlesborough. Bamford lacks the natural talent of some of these other players, but has been extremely effective at the Champioship level, and has shown the tactical ability to cut in when forced to play on the wing.
Would he be a good fit for Fiorentina? His success in the English second division, especially under former Mourinho assistant Aitor Karanka means the ability is there, but I'm skeptical he is a fit for Serie A.
Realistically, none of these players will likely replicate the "lightning in a bottle" effect of Salah. But considering how our transfer window has gone so far, perhaps another Chelsea castaway is our best option for midfield/forward depth.