After nearly leaving the club over the summer, it sounds like Pantaleo Corvino and Paulo Sousa have reassured Luca Lezzerini about his future with Fiorentina. Corriere dello Sport reports that 21-year-old has opened negotiations to extend his contract, which runs out at the end of the season.
That hasn’t stopped the rumors about goalkeeping reinforcements, though. With Ciprian Tatarusanu possibly headed for the exit next summer and Bartlomiej Dragowski’s status unclear, rumor has it that the Viola are making inquiries about 29-year-old Rennes man Benoit Costil, who’s informed the French club that he’s leaving at the end of this year and has said that he’d like to play in Serie A. Although he’s a regular part of the France international setup, he’s yet to win a cap. AC Milan are thought to be in pole position for his services, but the presence of Gianluigi Donnarumma may disuade Costil from joining the Rossoneri. His hands aren’t the best, but his reflexes and positioning are quite solid, and his distribution is about average.
This also marks the return of the rumors for old friend Mattia Perin. His agent is no longer as adamant about the 24-year-old Italian international leaving Genoa, but his recent statement that any offers will be carefully evaluated seems to indicate that the mop-haired custodian could be had for the right price. With a contract that runs until 2019, though, that price is likely to be quite high.
Rejoice, Viola fans, because the previous reports we had about Gonzalo Rodriguez renewing his contract are correct. His agent has been in Florence for about a month, in fact, hammering out terms with the Viola brass. Neither side feels any pressure to get a deal done soon, although the captain’s contract runs out this summer. The target date is the first of February, so this’ll probably drag on a bit, but it’s all under control.
Welp, that didn’t take long. With Riccardo Montolivo felled by a torn cruciate ligament, Milan are looking for replacements. Their top choice, not surprisingly, is Milan Badelj. They’ve been nipping at his heels for nearly a year now, and his agent Dejan Joksimovic has done all he can to fan the flames. Joksimovic is scheduled for a long meeting with Corvino at the beginning of Decemeber to figure out the Croatian international’s future; his contract runs until 2018, but he seems desperate to get out before then. There’s no doubt that this will be a weekly entry in this feature.
Should Badelj depart, Corvino’s already looking at replacements. Not surprisingly, they’re of the young, unproven variety. The first is Novara star Paolo Farago, for whom Fiorentina made a halfhearted attempt in the summer. Faced with Badelj’s possible departure, though, the 23-year-old has become an enticing option. Novara usually use him as a rightsided midfielder in a 4-2-3-1, but he’s more of a central player by nature, hardworking and with a knack for popping up in the box at the opportune moment.
Another option is 22-year-old Atalanta prospect Roberto Gagliardini. He impressed on loan at Vicenza last year, and has looked promising enough in his limited opportunities for la Dea this year that Juventus and Inter Milan are also monitoring him. He’s still more of a raw talent than an established starter, but he wouldn’t have to make an immediate impact in a talented and deep Viola engine room.
The man keeping Gagliardini off the pitch at Atalanta is Franck Kessie. The Ivorian international is a big, powerful, skilled, and versatile player who can play as a centerback or a number 10, but is probably at his best in central midfield. Long linked to Fiorentina, his excellent performances this year have caught Juve’s eye, and the Bianconeri are now offering la Dea a deal which would involve youngster Rolando Mandragora moving the other way on loan. If Fiorentina want Kessie, Corvino will have to move fast.
It sounds like Fiorentina have another saga on their hands involving a talented young attacking midfielder. Unlike Mohamed Salah, Joaquin, Adem Ljajic, and however many others, though, this one won’t involve the player wanting to leave Florence. In fact, 18-year-old North Korean winger Choe Song Hyok and the Viola want to stay together, but an Italian court ruled that his contract was invalid due to an EU embargo on trade relations with North Korea. Fiorentina have vowed to fight the injunction to keep the youngster on their books, but it’s a very weird situation all round.
You knew this was coming. Napoli are back in for Nikola Kalinic in the wake of Arkadiusz Milik’s devastating knee injury. After a rather prolonged public flirtation with the Croatian bore no fruit, the Partenopei have him at the top of their list as a replacement for the Polish star, with Simone Zaza, Gregoire Defrel, and Leonardo Pavoletti as the fallback options.
We’ve previously mentioned Maccabi Tel Aviv wide forward Tal Ben Haim as a Fiorentina target, and various outlets are backing it up. If you believe the Corriere dello Sport, Corvino has been monitoring the Israel international (and warlock) for months, which could mean anything or nothing.
Another wide attacker making waves is 20-year-old Serbian winger Nemanja Mihajlovic, who’s been a revelation for Partizan Belgrade this year. A right-footed player who likes to cut in from the left, his pace and dribbling skill have opened eyes across Europe. He sure looks like the next big star off the Partizan assembly line, and Fiorentina are jostling with Torino at the front of the queue for his services.
We’ll finish with some very welcome news. Inter are desperately trying to offload Stevan Jovetic after using him in a match and triggering his buyout clause from Manchester City, and will almost certainly make him available on loan this winter. As they’re well over the barrel, they’ll probably be willing to insert a reasonably cheap sale clause into the deal as well. JoJo has spoken of his desire to honor his contract with the Nerazzuri, but they clearly don’t want him. A return to Florence may be just what he needs after years in the wilderness, although Cesare Prandelli also wants him at Valencia.