We’ll begin with the news that Fiorentina scouts were spotted at the Argentina-Colombia match. Which can only mean an impending bid for Lionel Messi. Definitely.
Pantaleo Corvino refused to answer questions about whether or not he’d sign on renewing Paulo Sousa for another year, only repeating that they’d discuss it in February, as has been the plan all along. However, it’ll doubtless lead to all manner of speculation.
Haha, surprise, that speculation has already started. Napoli mister Maurizio Sarri is thought to be on the outs, to the point that Aurelio di Laurentiis is supposedly looking for a new manager. With whispers about the Viola and Sarri being in touch already, this could be one to monitor.
First things first. The Gonzalo Rodriguez renewal is going just fine, although it’s still in progress. Both sides agree that getting the captain’s contract extended in Florence is their top priority, and it’s just a matter of hammering out all the details. Nobody’s in a rush, so it may seem like it’s dragging on, but this has been the plan all along.
There’s also news out of Mexico that Fiorentina are ready to pay Chivas the full €6 million to make Carlos Salcedo’s loan move permanent. El Titan has settled right in and, frankly, come along much quicker than many (including me) anticipated. The figure quoted seems a bargain for a very promising young defender and possible heir to Gonzalo, so expect that to start picking up steam shortly.
However, that doesn’t mean that Corvino’s not still looking to strengthen the backline. The latest possible addition is 22-year-old Jaroslaw Jach, who plays for his hometown club Zagłębie Lubin. He’s attracted interest from Atalanta, Sampdoria, and Sassuolo as well, and his agent Pawel Staniszewski says that Serie A would be a good fit for his skill set. Oh, and he can strike a pretty wicked free kick, as evidenced by his first-ever goal for the Polish U21s (also featuring Bartlomiej Dragowski) against Germany, no less.
A reinforcement in the wider areas of the defense could come in the form of 23-year-old Romanian Bogdan Vataleju. He mostly plays at leftback for Universitetea Kraiova and Romania, but can also push forward into a wide midfield spot. His pace would be a nice addition, but he’s still a bit raw. Club president Marcel Popescu wants to hang onto him if possible, and the player himself thinks that the links are just media fiction, although he’s honored nonetheless.
We may have to drop the Francesco Zampano dream too, as la Nazione claims that he’s not a serious target. Of course, given that Corvino is the Keyser Soze of Serie A, this could just be an elaborate bit of subterfuge to drive the flying Pescara rightback’s price down.
While things have gone quiet on the Milan Badelj front, midfield replacement are still being queued up from all over the place. Midfield general Luka Mililojevic, 25, is the trendiest name right now. The Olympiacos star has 19 caps for Serbia and is a powerful presence in the middle, possessed of solid technique and a knack for cutting out passes. He looks like a ready-made Badelj replacement if it comes to that, and he’s been linked to Fiorentina by a number of publications, although Benfica, Fenerbahce, and now Leicester are all interested as well.
A rather less trendy option is Genoa midfield boss Tomas Rincon. Captain of Venezuela at just 28, he can also drop in at rightback and comes with a wealth of Serie A experience. While not a spectacular player, he’s a good and steady presence in the middle, and Lazio are also sniffing around.
Another domestic option is Pescara schemer Valerio Verre. He’s been brilliant for the overmatched Delfini and is almost certain to leave if/when they’re relegated, and possibly even if they somehow stay up. We’ve waxed rhapsodic about him before, but the newest tidbit is that Kevin Diks could go the other way on loan, which would help soften the blow if Massimo Oddo’s men also lose Zampano.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder/injury list fixture Nuri Sahin, previously thought to be a perfect Viola fit, is now firmly in the sights for Hamburg. Although he’s an absolutely brilliant player when fit, he spends so much time on the trainer’s table that it’s probably best to let someone else take him on. Shame, though, because he’s one of the best passers in the world.
Atalanta star Franck Kessie is also slipping away from the purple grasp, as Napoli seem determined to head off interest from Italy and England by swooping the 19-year-old Ivorian up this January.
The Viola wingers have popped up in the news for rather similar reasons. Fresh off a brilliantly-taken brace against Empoli, Federico Bernardeschi is now supposedly the only star in the skies of both Inter Milan and AC Milan. While the Milanese fight it out for the right to buy Fede, the youngster has thrown cold water over the flames, claiming that he wants to stay in Florence, possibly for his entire career, and has no intention of leaving right now.
Cristian Tello hasn’t been quite as dazzling, but the flyer recently said in an interview that he’s also thrilled to be in Florence and wants to stay indefinitely, quieting the murmurs that he might return to Spain. Of course, he also cited Joaquin as his inspiration, so that may be subject to change. Just in case, we recommend that all chairs in the Tello household exercise caution.
Word through the grapevine is that Fiorentina have decided to flat-out reject any and all offers for Nikola Kalinic, which is an admirable, if short-sighted, stance to take with the striker, who’s suddenly been useful again this season. As detailed in Soccernomics, Moneyball, and countless other statistical investigations, no player should ever be unsellable for the right offer.
Still, though, with Sousa unwilling to use his backup strikers, it seems that Nikola needs someone to spell him. Manolo Gabbiadini has been a popular pick in the media, and Football Italia even claims that Napoli could make a swap deal for Khouma Babacar (which seems really outlandish, honestly), but his agent has plainly stated that should the 24-year-old leave Naples, it will either be on a loan move out of Italy entirely or for a fee of €25 million. In either case, Fiorentina is out of the running.
The Viola are also probably out of the running for Stevan Jovetic. The Montengrin striker/talisman may have impressed new boss Stefano Pioli in training to earn a spot with the Nerazzuri. If not, West Ham are keen to bring him back to England, and Sampdoria have tapped him as a potential Luis Muriel replacement (even thought Ferraro insists the Colombian won’t be sold).