Jose Maria Basanta was a crucial cog in the machine last season, but may already be on the chopping block, if Fiorentina.it is to be believed (in this case, we recommend a full shaker's worth of salt). The Argentine international, fresh off 37 appearances in purple - with 4 goals - is linked with a return to Mexico or Argentina.
If you believe the internet chatter - this one seems to have started at the (cough) famously neutral La Nazione - Paulo Sousa wants another new center back, which would solidly park the granite-jawed defender on the bench, an outcome which Basanta apparently has no interest in.
While there's no concrete evidence that Basanta is leaving, the fact that the rumor has found its way to the papers can illuminate a few things for us. Firstly, Sousa clearly isn't thrilled with his center back situation, which is surprising to me. Center back looked to be the deepest position on the club, with Gonzalo Rodriguez and new boy Davide Astori as the first choice pairing, Basanta and Nenad Tomovic as backups, and finally Ahmed Hegazy and Ricardo Bagadur as the developmental prospects.
But Sousa has reputation as a coach who wants to build his teams on a strong defensive base. And if, as the whispers go, the Portuguese manager wants to play with a 3-4-3, he'll need three very good center backs. If Basanta doesn't even make the grade, where does that leave the other centerbacks?
Tomovic, love him or hate him (and for most people, it's the latter), is locked in due to his ability to sort-of play fullback, an actual position of need. Bagadur almost certainly needs a year or two on loan, but has looked promising. The player most likely to be affected is Hegazy.
Our Egyptian defender has looked pretty shaky in the preseason. Whether that's due to his lengthy injury layoff or his development just stalling out, there's no way he'll get minutes with Fiorentina if Basanta can't make the grade. There've been some rumors about Hegazy going to Eibar on loan; if this Basanta news is true, Hegazy is also probably a lock to move this year, and we would expect to hear something soon as to who the Viola would bring in to take Basanta's spot.
Or it's all made up. One of the two.