As we slowly work our way through every position on the pitch to determine Fiorentina’s greatest-ever eleven, the defensive midfield spot is one of the trickiest for me. While a guy like David Pizarro will go down in Viola history as the epitome of the Vincenzo Montella years, he only made 110 appearances for the club. That’s mostly been the story of this spot on the pitch for the Viola: lots of quality passing through, but little sticking around. That said, there are three long-term players who are good enough to walk into pretty much any XI in history, and so it’s not like this is a position starved for quality. Give it a look and let us know who you think deserves the nod.
You really can’t begin this list with anyone else, alphabetically or otherwise. Chiappella, though born in Milan, spent most of his career in Tuscany, and the vast majority was with Fiorentina. His 333 appearances are 4th-most in club history, but despite his meager return of 5 goals and 2 assists, he was far from the sort to merely show up and go home. A stocky, powerful figure known for his brilliant reading of the game and crunching tackles as well as his taurine strength and stubborn demeanor, he was in a lot of ways the most important player in the scudetto-winning side of 1955-1956, and not only for his all-out style. He brought a level of innovation to the game, helping a succession of managers turn him into one of the first real holding midfielders the world had ever seen. His quality saw him earn 17 caps for Italy, and he even spent 9 years as a Viola manager, winning the Coppa Italia twice. He died in 2009 after a long illness and is already in the club’s hall of fame. Because very little of his work is available on film, I can’t add highlights, but c’mon. He’s Giuseppe effing Chiappella. Just that name should be enough.
Giancarlo de Sisti
If you’re the sort who believes that the regista is the purest and most beautiful player on the pitch, de Sisti is your man. Racking up 271 appearances between 1965 and 1974 and scoring 31 goals, the 29-time Italy international anticipated the role of the modern holding midfielder decades before the likes of Sergio Busquets. He had a knack for finding spaces to operate in deep positions and was a metronomic passer, taking the bare minimum of touches so that he could keep the ball moving as quickly as possible. He wasn’t just a sideways passer, though; he had both the technique and the vision to set up his teammates with through balls and long passes, a talent that went a long way towards ensuring Fiorentina’s second scudetto, as well as the 1964 Coppa Italia. Just like Chiappella, it’s tough to find footage of his work online, but if it helps, he’s also in AS Roma’s hall of fame, too; there aren’t many players who can become legitimate legends at two different clubs.
The combative Brazilian (born Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri) is one of his nation’s best-known hard men, a veteran of 95 matches for the Seleção. Across a club career that saw him play for 9 clubs across 3 continents, though, it’s Fiorentina who saw the most of him: 154 appearances, 12 goals, and 1 assist. His disciplinary stats stick out as well: just 13 yellow cards and a single sending-off attest to a player who was never out of control. Famous for his reading of the game and for staying on his feet in the tackle, his industry, versatility, and knack for starting a quick break by winning the ball and pinging it forward made him a favorite, as did his . A casualty of the Cecchi Gori years, he only spent 4 years in Florence, but would have probably ended up wearing the armband for the club if he hadn’t been sold to Pescara (!) to make ends meet. Of these three, he’s certainly the most famous outside of Italy, and he certainly deserves, at the least, to be in the discussion of best-ever holding midfielder for Fiorentina.
Who is Fiorentina’s greatest defensive midfielder?
This poll is closed
1. Giuseppe Chiappella
2. Giancarlo de Sisti
4. Somebody else I’ll list in the comments