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Fiorentina linked to Muriel, Stępiński, Kownacki, Gabbiadini everyone else

The Viola are likely to pick up a striker in January. If all of these rumors come true, Pioli’s going to switch to the old 2-3-5 formation.

ACF Fiorentina v Catania Calcio - Serie A
I kid, I kid.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

With the winter transfer window less than a month away, it’s safe to assume that Fiorentina will be in for a new striker. Giovanni Simeone looks badly rattled and has scored all of 2 goals this year. His backups are old man Cyril Théréau (who’s almost certainly going to be sold in January), Dušan Vlahović (who’s probably going to be loaned elsewhere as Stefano Pioli doesn’t trust him), and Kevin Mirallas (who’s a winger and looks washed anyways). So here’s a short list of center forwards who’ve been linked to the club of late.

Luis Muriel

This one’s pretty exciting. Currently stuck on the bench at Sevilla, the 27-year-old Colombian is rumored to be forcing his way back to Italy, with Fiorentina, former club Sampdoria, and AS Roma all in the running. Of those, Tuscany makes the most sense: he’d slide right into the starting lineup, and his positional versatility means that he could play with Simeone as well as in his stead.

Getting a deal done, though could be tricky, as the Rojiblancos shelled out €21.5 million for the forward last year and probably don’t want to lose him for less. A short loan would almost certainly be the formula with a hefty clause attached. The player’s salary—supposedly in the €1.3 million range—would also be problematic for a club already overpaying the likes of Marko Pjaca and Mirallas relative to their performances. However, Muriel’s a proven producer in Italy—43 goals and 33 assists in Serie A, or one every 135 minutes—and would upgrade the team significantly.

Dawid Kownacki

The 21-year-old Pole is blocked out at Samp by the sparkling form of Fabio Quagliarella, Gianluca Caprari, and Grégoire Defrel; while he’s made 10 Serie A appearances, he’s only played 125 minutes in the league (although he did manage to net against Frosinone). While he’s not outstanding in any one phase of the game, he’s a solid all-rounder who’d certainly be a decent, albeit unproven, option in relief of Simeone. He’s scored 15 goals in 20 appearances with the Poland U21s, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to find the back of the net. The Viola are the most glamorous of his purported suitors at this point, although Empoli, Bologna, SPAL, and Chievo are also in the mix.

The Blucerchiati would almost certainly agree to a loan for the rest of the season to get him more playing time. They’re almost certainly leary about selling, though, as they just bought him from Lech Poznan last year and he’s almost certainly Quagliarella’s long-term replacement. It’s hard to see how another relatively promising youngster on loan would help this side for more than a couple of months, and given Corvino’s stated desire to build a stable organization, this ain’t it.

Mariusz Stępiński

It may seem odd to go shopping for strikers at Chievo Verona, who’ve got the joint-worst scoring mark in Serie A, but Stępiński could be a good and cheap solution. He’s netted more than a quarter of the Donkeys’ goals this season and may be starting to fulfill the promise that saw him handed a senior Poland cap at the age of 18. More of a slippery penalty-box poacher than a Simeone-style bulldozer, he’s a clever finisher in the area. While he’s never been prolific since leaving Poland, he may just be a late bloomer who could be worth a dice throw. On the other hand, he could wind up being another forward who doesn’t score, and the Viola are full up on those.

The terms of the rumored deal are pretty nice for Fiorentina, though, which probably makes him a much more attractive option in Corvino’s eyes. Swapping Théréau straight up would cut the wage bill and add a younger option that still has some promise. Alternatively, sending Vlahović on loan for the rest of the year and paying a pittance at season’s end to keep Stępiński is also a reasonably attractive option.

Manolo Gabbiadini

It’s been nearly a month since we started hearing the Gabbiadini rumors, and while they haven’t exactly picked up steam, they also haven’t really slowed down. He’d be an intriguing fit in Fiorentina, as he’s not really a great goalscorer but rather a scorer of great goals. He’s never looked capable of leading the line, either, so he wouldn’t exactly be a Cholito replacement; instead, he’d probably slot in on the right wing. While he doesn’t lack class, he’s injury-prone as they come and hasn’t been in good form for years. This season, he’s mostly been a bench option, scoring a single goal in 385 minutes spaces across 10 appearances.

His agent recently spoke of receiving concrete offers in Italy for the player and name-dropped Corvino as a past suitor, which could mean everything or nothing. With Samp also reportedly interested, Southampton could try to begin a bidding war; having fired manager Mark Hughes, there’s no guarantee that the attacker will see the pitch. The rub, though, is his salary, reported to be €4.67 million. That’s the most at Saints, which means they probably want him out, but even at a discount sale or a loan where they’ll pay part of his wage, that’s way outside of the Viola range.