Having addressed the defensive midfield last time out, we’re moving on to the pure central midfielders. There are some names on this list that may cause some consternation, but bear with me; all will be explained.
Born in the suburbs of Pisa, Amoroso spent his whole career in Tuscany. While Bologna is where he ended up with the most appearances, he’s a Fiorentina academy product and played 155 matches in the Viola shirt, so we’re comfortable claiming him as one of ours. Never a prolific goalscorer, he was more of an all-action figure in the middle, getting through a lot of running. His defensive positioning was unimpeachable, and he had the range to make every pass; basically, he was the sort of unheralded player who glues everything together for the sort of team that wins trophies, such as the 2001 Coppa Italia to which he contributed. There aren’t any nifty YouTube compilations of his work, but he was a key member of those Batistuta-Rui Costa-Chiesa teams in the late 90s and early 2000s, and was one of several dozen casualties of the Cecchi Gori mismanagement who was offloaded in an attempt to get the club’s finances back in order.
Yeah, I know he wasn’t really a central midfielder. But Jorgy played every position on the pitch during his 6 years in Florence except for goalkeeper, centerback, and striker. While he may have spent more time at fullback or winger, he’s listed as primarily a central midfielder on Transfermarkt, so there. Anyways, the 102-capped Danish international made 181 appearances in a Viola shirt, piling up 17 goals, 12 assists, and just 7 bookings. He was never the most naturally-talented player on the pitch, his intelligence, hard work, and knack for popping up with a key contribution endeared him to the Franchi faithful more than you’d expect. More than anything, he was clutch: a 90th minute strike against Lecce in 2009 qualified Fiorentina for the Champions League, and he scored the opener against Liverpool at Anfield the following season. In some ways, he symbolizes those golden Cesare Prandelli years more than any other player to me. Currently on the coaching staff of boyhood club Aarhus, he is, as far as we know, the only Viola player ever honored as the namesake of a hedgehog.
Obviously this is not a popular name around these parts, but it belongs on the list. In his 7-year stint as the next great Italian midfielder in Florence, he amassed 19 goals and 23 assists in his 259 appearances (16th-most in club history), and even wore the armband for a couple of years. While he never reached the “next Andrea Pirlo” level everyone expected of him, he was the club’s best midfielder for nearly half a decade and earned 66 caps for Italy. The circumstances of his exit—he basically mailed in his final year at the club so he could join AC Milan on a free transfer—left a bad taste that still remains, but he did summon some moments of magic to unleash the likes of Adrian Mutu, Alberto Gilardino, Stevan Jovetić, and Giampaolo Pazzini. Whether his contributions are enough to outweigh his treachery, though, is up to you.
This one still hurts. The “West Brom failure” piled up 212 appearances in the Viola colors, contributing 17 goals and 44 assists. That doesn’t nearly conjure up just how elegant and how important he was in Florence, though. Whether drifting out to the left wing to encourage Manuel Pasqual and Marcos Alonso on the overlap or threading passes through the defense for Giuseppe Rossi or simply dinking the ball around the middle of the pitch, Borja was a delight for his ability to control a match with his passing. Never the most athletic (my wife, when she saw a picture of him, described him as “a fit, nerdy IT guy”), his glorious vision, touch, and passing saw him become one of Serie A’s most influential players. He also loved Florence, diving headfirst into life on the Arno with his family and even getting the coordinates of the Ponte Vecchio tattooed on his arm. When Pantaleo Corvino sold him to Inter Milan at a discount price, much to Borja’s dismay, it broke all our hearts. But let’s not think about that. Let’s think about his magisterial performances under Vincenzo Montella and even Paulo Sousa.
Who is Fiorentina’s greatest central midfielder?
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5. Someone else I’ll name in the comments