At this point, it’s no secret that Fiorentina captain Gonzalo Rodríguez is leaving at the end of the year, as his attempts to negotiate a new contract with the club have been met only with offers that involve a severely reduced salary. Obviously, this leaves a gaping hole in the heart of the defense, as Gonzalo’s been the club’s best defender since arriving from Villarreal in 2012. However, it also creates a void in the dressing room, where the inspirational Argentine has been club captain for the past 2 seasons, taking over for Manuel Pasqual in 2015. So who’s going to wear the armband next year?
The obvious choice, of course, is Borja Valero. He’s the vice-captain right now, and is in his 4th season with the club. He’s maybe the most beloved Viola player around, not only for his cerebral and elegant style on the pitch but for his thoughtful hilarity off it. As the future mayor of Florence, captaining Fiorentina seems like a natural step. However, he can be a bit mercurial—the headbutt from his Villarreal days comes to mind—and he gets very frustrated at times when his teammates or the referee aren’t up to snuff.
Federico Bernardeschi is another good choice. He can easily make an argument for being the best player on the team, which is, in and of itself, frequently reason enough to be captain. However, he’s also a lifelong Fiorentina man, clearly well-liked by his teammates and fans, and possesses the sort of calm demeanor you like to see in a captain. There’s always the hope that the armband will convince him to stay in Florence for longer, as well. However, despite his maturity beyond his years, he’s still just 23 years old, which is a bit young.
Gonzalo could leave the armband to another centerback, as well. Davide Astori is only in his second year in purple, but he was solid last season and has been the club’s best defender in this one. He’s previously captained Cagliari and is a full Italian international. Moreover, he actually seems like a leader in the dressing room, despite his quiet demeanor. Every time there’s a shot of the team during pre-game or half time, he seems to be the one going around and checking on everyone, doing all the stuff you want a captain to do. But he’s so dang quiet it’s hard to notice him sometimes, too.
While these three are definitely the top candidates, you could also make an argument, I suppose, for Nenad Tomović, who’s currently third in line for the armband behind Gonzalo and Borja, and has in fact captained the side a couple of times this season. On the other hand, c’mon, he’s Nenad freaking Tomović. He tries hard and loves Florence, but your captain can’t be a liability. Sorry.
Although he’s only 24 years old, Khouma Babacar could stake a claim as well, given that he’s Fiorentina’s longest-serving player. Remember, this is his 8th season in Florence, and he’s shown himself to be an admirably hard worker and strong supporter of the team, despite his exile under Paulo Sousa. But he may still be sold this summer, and he’s certainly behind Nikola Kalinić on the depth chart.
If you’re the sort who believes that the captain should be an all-work, all-hustle, all-action sort of player who leads by example, Matías Vecino is probably your man. He covers more ground than just about anyone and is certainly a starting-caliber player, but this is just his second full year in Florence, and while he isn’t necessarily lacking them, he has yet to demonstrate any real captain’s qualities.