Shortly after the win over Palermo, Andrea Della Valle announced that Giancarlo Antognoni would be returning to Fiorentina in some role, probably as a vice-president. It’s wonderful to see the rift between the legendary midfielder and the Della Valles healed, although Giancarlo could get pretty salty if he thinks the owners aren’t doing enough. He’s expected to start in January.
The fate of Bartlomiej Dragowski remains nebulous, but may be clarified soon. Paulo Sousa has eschewed the Polish U21 international thus far, but following a disastrous showing from #2 Luca Lezzerini against PAOK, the teenager may have passed his fellow youngster in the pecking order. Panathinaikos had been mulling a move for him over the winter, but now the player’s father says that he’s staying in Florence and fighting for a spot. He may well get a shot in the Coppa Italia.
This may astonish you, but the Viola badly need to invest in some defenders. One possibility is Sampdoria and Slovenia centerback Milan Skriniar. Corvino dispatched scouts to the the Blucerchiati match against Udinese this past weekend. It seems that Samp are willing to sell, so this one could have some legs. Of course, we’ve also heard that this is a pure Corvino smokescreen; only time will tell.
Centerback, of course, isn’t the problem. Rather, it’s the fullback spots. With Maxi Olivera curiously incapable of unseating the unconvincing Hrvoje Milic, Corvino may look to a new player. Borussia Dortmund and South Korea leftback Park Joo-ho could be a cheap and useful addition. The 29-year-old, who can also play as a holding midfielder, has made just 5 appearances for BVB since moving from FC Mainz last year. Stout defensively and industrious going forward, he’d certainly be an upgrade on the flank. He’s probably best known for a dramatic late winner in the Europa League last year against Krasnodar.
So the Milan Badelj saga just took a weird twist. Shortly after the Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Inter Milan were interested in the Croatian international, his agent Joksimovic spoke out, claiming his client would stay through January and pooh-poohing earlier interest from AS Roma. However, AC Milan remain ardent admirers; Vincenzo Montella clearly covets his former star, and he’s supposedly the top target for the Rosoneri this January. Again, at this point, we just have to wait and see how it shakes out, because there are a lot of mutually exclusive narratives at play here.
As far as replacements go, it looks like Atalanta superstar Franck Kessie is right out, as Juventus are planning a swoop for him in January. Of course, they’ll have to beat Napoli to the punch, but if these two are going to enter a bidding war for the 19-year-old Ivorian international, he’s already out of Fiorentina’s price range.
A more forward thinking alternative is Sampdoria’s trequartista Bruno Fernandes, currently on loan from Udinese. The Genoan club has an option to buy him for €6 million, but it sounds like Corvino’s already in touch with Udi about stealing in and grabbing him in January. The 22-year-old Portuguese maestro has been in good form since returning from injury a few months ago, but a deal could get awfully tricky.
A simpler option may be Clement Grenier. The Lyon man has fallen out of favor this season, prompting rumors that he could leave. A creative dribbler and passer with a knack for spectacular free kicks, his possible exit has put both Fiorentina and Roma on high alert. Stylistically, he’s somewhere between Borja Valero and Josip Ilicic. Once touted as the most promising young French midfielder, his development has stalled over the past few years as he’s dealt with a succession of injuries. A chance in scenery could be just what the doctor ordered (also, sorry about the stupid Milan highlight video; it was the best one of him I could find).
For bookkeeping purposes, here’s your weekly update that Federico Bernardeschi has said again that he doesn’t want to leave Fiorentina and that an exit isn’t even on his radar. Next, please.
Cristian Tello has also spoken of how happy he is in Florence, waxing rhapsodical about Sousa’s trust in him that we’re sure has nothing to do with the dearth of alternatives on the wing. Regardless, Corvino and company have opened talks with Barcelona to make his move permanent, which is a welcome change from the dithering between the clubs this past summer.
Ugh. Nikola Kalinic has dismissed out of hand any reports that he wants to leave, but Napoli are supposedly planning another push for him this January. Flush with cash after advancing in the Champions League, a bid in the €25 million range seems to be the plan as the Partenopei try to replace injured star Arkadiusz Milik. So hey, now we get to hear about this for the next two months. Hooray.
Fresh off yet another dramatic, match-winning goal, Khouma Babacar has attracted a good deal of interest as well. The Premier League continues to beckon, but Bologna are also thinking about kicking the tires on him as well. The Senegalese star, though, has been very clear in his desire to stay in Florence, among the “family” that’s been around him for the past 9 years. Sousa, Corvino, ADV, DDV: please don’t mess this up.
Mauro Zarate has also garnered some interest from Bologna, although a return to Argentina has also been mooted in the press. The Viola want at least €1.6 million for him, which sure seems like a steal, but both Maurito and his agent have candidly discussed his desire to stay in Florence—indeed, there are whispers that he may turn down any move away—and the latter has pointed out that he deserves more minutes.