We feared the worst after Panagiotis Tachtsidis slid into and through Franck Ribery’s ankle last week in Fiorentina’s loss to Lecce, and a report today has confirmed our fears. As reported by Football Italia, the 36-year-old Frenchman will require surgery after feeling unexpected pain while trying to rehab the injury. While the Viola won’t provide a timetable at the moment—expect a statement after the procedure—he’s likely to be out until at least February and maybe longer.
This is obviously a massive blow for manager Vincenzo Montella, who’s now deprived of one of his key attackers. The 3-5-2 he developed to utilize Ribery and Federico Chiesa’s talents up top now looks pretty well crocked, but the real issue is that the ex-Bayern Munich man is far and away the most creative passer on the roster and the only man capable of consistently unlocking a deep-lying defense. Without him, Fiorentina suddenly look like the sort of outfit that’s best designed to play on the counterattack and on the counterattack only.
This development also rather forces Daniele Pradè’s hand; while a top-notch attacker looked like a pressing need before, Ribery’s absence means that a forward is now priority number one unless Montella thinks that Rachid Ghezzal, Riccardo Sottil, Pedro, Dušan Vlahović, or the currently injured Kevin-Prince Boateng can assume far more responsibility than any of them have thus far demonstrated they can handle. It’s a truly crushing turn of events that may well set Fiorentina back by an entire year and could mean that the goal this season is to avoid the drop rather than to establish an identity for the future.