With Borja Valero long gone, Matias Vecino increasingly close to joining him at Internazionale, and Milan Badelj with one eye on the exit since the day he arrived in Florence, the Fiorentina central midfield, a position of strength since at least the Montella era, is looking worryingly thin, especially on the passing side.
Now it appears Pantaleo Corvino has targetted Jordan Veretout as a replacement. The French midfielder is property of Aston Villa, but after a poor debut season where Villa was relegated, Veretout moved to Saint-Étienne on loan, helping Les Verts achieve 8th place. It looked like the move would be made permanent for about half of what Villa paid for him, but now it appears Fiorentina is ready to block the deal, offering the English club more money while preparing a 5 year contract for the Veretout.
The 24 year old was a standout in the French U20 World Cup winning side, where he played in a midfield trio alongside Geoffrey Kondogbia and Paul Pogba. Veretout hasn’t had the same success as his peers since then; he was a staple for a Nantes side that progressed from Ligue 2 to 1 before making a moderately high profile move to Aston Villa for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £9 million. Tim Sherwood’s Villa was a disaster that year, and Veretout didn’t do himself any favors as the club was swiftly relegated.
Last year he redeemed himself somewhat on loan at Saint-Étienne, where he stood out as a central midfielder, finishing with 3 goals and 4 assists in 35 league games, with the mid table club hoping to make the move permanent.
His statistics on WhoScored reinforce that he had a mostly positive season - although his 82% pass completion percentage is below what Borja Valero and Vecino had for Fiorentina last year, he is a different player, and is especially known as a confident direct passer, who also has a good long range shot and set piece potential.
While we can’t fault Veretout for failing in the Premier League - the same happened to Borja after all, it doesn’t appear we are facing much competition if the player is looking to leave France again. Typical for modern day Fiorentina, this appears to be more of a smart than an exciting buy, however unlike many of our other signings so far, this is a player who at least has experience in a top tier European league, fits a much needed role, and is still young enough to have untapped potential.
He needs to do something about that hair bleaching though.