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2016/17 Squad Grades: Midfielders

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Borja Valero is still the man.

ACF Fiorentina v Bologna FC - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

This was not a season to remember by any means, but the midfield was, for the most part, a strong point, although their effectiveness can be debated. This season, Fiorentina averaged 56% possession (second best in Serie A after Napoli), with an 85% pass success percentage, above average numbers, and scored 68% of goals from open play, suggesting that the central midfield did its job; although with only 2 goals scored directly from counter attacks, width remains something that could be improved.

Borja Valero - 9

League Apps: 30(1)

The vice-captain and probably new captain, Borja somehow had an under the radar excellent season, and is tied with Davide Astori as our highest ranked player on WhoScored. As always, Borja was willing to play across the midfield, and while his game has, if anything, only gotten more conservative as he gets older, he remains effective, with an almost 90% pass success rate, and finishes the season with 10 assists, by far the most on the team. He will never get confused for a goalscorer, but his 1 league goal this year was a nice one, as is usually the case. With speculation that Fiorentina is willing to float him in the market and have not committed to a contract renewal yet, the club could be on the verge of making a terrible mistake.

Matias Vecino - 9

League Apps: 26(5)

The Uruguayan was one of the bright points of this season, as his game matured on both sides of the ball. 3 goals and 4 assists don’t seem like much on the surface, but compared to last years numbers, they show the increased attacking confidence Vecino has found, with improved shooting and passing (over 88% success rate), while continuing to commit to defensive play and protecting the ball, with a little more discipline than the previous season. Still only 25, it is encouraging to see Vecino evolve into a complete player.

Milan Badelj - 7

League Apps: 29(4)

It’s never a good sign when a player’s performance is overshadowed by their agent spending the entire season trying to force Fiorentina to sell their client. And the Croatian, while not personally a problem, played like a man who checked out. He was still mostly good - his passing and interceptions made him effective in both a 2 and 3 man central midfield, and his 2 goals were nice, however his energy was lacking and his play was overshadowed by both Borja and Vecino. A 86% pass accuracy is still impressive, but the two players listed above set a high bar and Badelj seemed disinterested in reaching it.

Sebastian Cristoforo - 5

League Apps: 7(12)

A prototypical Uruguayan destroyer on paper, Sousa never really seemed to figure out how to use Cristoforo, often playing him more forward than he was comfortable at, and as a result he rarely stood out in a good way. Although his defensive contributions were encouraging, he often appeared out of position, and while he was willing to get forward, he plays in a conservative style, and as a result, was most effective as a late game sub used to shut games down - a position Fiorentina was not in as frequently as we would like. He has untapped potential that a different coach may be able to unleash, but the question remains if he is worth the effort.

Cristian Tello - 6

League Apps: 22(14)

The Barcelona product is one of the few players on the squad with genuine pace to unleash on the counter but without the football intelligence to make the most of it, Tello remains one of the most polarizing players on the squad, and even management doesn’t really know what to do with him. Tello was used as a winger, attacking midfielder, and even wingback, and although he works hard, he got off to an awful start of the season, however he picked up as the year went on and offered a few quality moments. 4 goals and 4 assists is less production than what Fiorentina needs, but the skill and speed makes it awfully tempting to give him another chance.

Federico Chiesa - 8

League Apps: 17(10)

The feel good story of the season, every’s new favorite player, and Italian international, Chiesa got his start in the first game of the season against Juventus, at 18, and immediately looked comfortable. So impressive was Chiesa’s debut season, that we forget that he is still a work in progress - he has a tendency to commit soft fouls and his finishing is currently more Tello than Bernardeschi, but at 19, he is already playing like a Serie A starter, and a player of his skill and composure looks like a midfielder version of his father.

Others

Ianis Hagi and Joshua Perez both had substitute cameos this season, but neither was given enough of a chance to have much of an opinion on. Carlos Sanchez was previously covered under the defenders review - naturally a defensive midfielder, he started in that role but played mostly in the back for the second half of the season, and Jack’s score is equally appropriate for his midfield play. And the less we speak about Hernan Toledo, the better.

Poll

Who do you think was Fiorentina’s best midfielder of the 2016/17 season?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Borja Valero
    (46 votes)
  • 30%
    Matias Vecino
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    Milan Badelj
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Sebastian Cristoforo
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Cristian Tello
    (0 votes)
  • 21%
    Federico Chiesa
    (23 votes)
  • 2%
    Hernan Toledo
    (3 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now