Fiorentina may finally be addressing one of its most visible issues, which is an embarrassment of riches at the goalkeeper position. Earlier today, Stefano Pioli named Marco Sportiello as his new number one. It’s a move in keeping with the club’s explicitly-stated push to get younger and more Italian all over the pitch, even if it means unceremoniously shoving aside another reliable veteran.
This isn’t in any way to detract from Sportiello’s talent, mind you. He’s a brilliant young stopper; just a couple of years ago, we were talking about him the way we’re talking about Simone Scuffet now. He already had an impressive Serie A resume with Aalanta despite his tender years and looked like the heir apparent to Gianluigi Buffon for the Azzuri. Life was good.
Last year, though, new manager Gian Piero Gasperini decided that Etrit Berisha was a better option between the sticks, despite the homegrown talent’s previous success. Sportiello was understandably frustrated, given his body of work for the club, and posited that he deserved better. A brief war of words ended with the goalkeeper’s loan to Fiorentina for a year and a half, with a compulsory fee of about €7 million due in June of 2018. It was an astute piece of business by Pantaleo Corvino and still looks like an absolute steal.
However, Sportiello was unable to unseat incumbent Ciprian Tătăruşanu, making his only 2 Viola starts when the Romanian number one was injured and shipping 4 goals, although they were more the fault of the defense than the keeper. Given his vocal desire to start, it seemed a bit odd, although we were pretty sure we knew what was going on.
Just as we expected, then, Sportiello will take over from Tata; Corvino must have assured him that such would be the case when he convinced him to move from la Dea. Tătăruşanu is now almost certain to leave, also as predicted. The problem, of course, is that now any club looking to buy him (he’s generated some interest in England and Russia, although a return to Romania remains an option as well) knows that he’s surplus to requirements, meaning that a full international goalkeeper in his prime will leave Florence for well under market value; publicly claiming that Tata was still the top dog would have driven his price up, which would have been nice.
It’s also a shame to see Ciprian pushed out like this, as he’s been a model professional during his time with the Gigliati. While he doubtless saw the writing on the wall when Sportiello arrived, his game tape is still pretty dang impressive for a dude who’s being so unceremoniously dumped. On the other hand, he’ll doubtless make some club very happy in the near future.
Once Tata’s left town, 19-year-old Bartłomiej Drągowski will take over as the backup. He should get a run in Coppa Italia matches, and it’ll be fun to see what the highly-regarded Pole can bring to the table during his cameos. The club will probably look to add a veteran as the third goalkeeper, which will provide a steadying presence in the dressing room and allow Giacomo Satalino to get some experience out on loan somewhere. All in all, everything is unfolding as we anticipated and we’re almost completely thrilled.