Fiorentina have signed a new striker, and whoever you're thinking it is, you're almost certainly wrong. The captain of the national side and all-time leader in caps is excited to come to Florence, stating "At my age and after so many years on the field, I now more than ever require new challenges." Excited, put sort of puzzled? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
At my age and after so many years on the field, I now more than ever require new challenges.
Patrizia Panico remains an absolute force, even at the age of 40. With 196 caps and 107 international goals, "the Scorpion" is Italy's greatest active player, and maybe its best ever. Her club career is equally impressive, beginning in 1993 with Lazio and continuing through more than half a dozen other stops before bringing her to Fiorentina; her record at club level is 627 goals in 635 appearances, which is, as our more astute readers may have noticed, nearly as impressive as viola legend Mounir El Hamdaoui.
The Della Valles have kicked Italian women's soccer into overdrive this past year, acquiring the rights to expand ACF Fiorentina into the women's game. While the newly-formed club doesn't yet even have any history, it does have a credibility that no other team on the peninsula does: the Della Valles have opted to follow the model of Europe's best women's clubs in having a men's side and a women's side of the same organization, rather than separating them into distinct entities. Panico adds, "...[E]specially after so many battles fought for so many years for women's football; battles that are still under way, finding myself at the first club that's achieved what's worked for years in Europe, is certainly a strong stimulus."
Panico will report to the club's training camp in mid-August. It remains to be seen if her marriage to Livorno legend Igor Protti will cause any trouble with fans. Hopefully, it's all smooth sailing, and Patrizia Panico can get Fiorentina on the right track for domestic and continental glory.