Despite the astronomical rise of Gaetano Castrovilli and some strong performances by Erick Pulgar, the Fiorentina midfield has yet to really impress this year. The problem seems to be a lack of playmaking passers, as Castrovilli’s at his best as a dribbler right now and Pulgar and Milan Badelj are generally more functional than incisive. Having someone who can really break down a packed-back defense would be great, and that’s why, say, Éver Banega would seem to fit the bill perfectly; it’s not just conjecture at this point, either, as the grapevine is providing reinforcement.
The Argentine has been with Sevilla for the past two years after a failed stint at Inter Milan. He’s won a lot of trophies in his time, including a pair of Europa Leagues, and has played next to some of the best in the world. Even at 31, he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon and remains a brilliant passer and playmaker who loves being on the ball. He’s got the technique and vision to run an attack from deep, and while he’s not the most mobile player around, he can still dribble past defenders and put in a shift defensively.
He’d be a perfect fit in midfield with Castrovilli and either Pulgar or Badelj; the former would give him a runner to target and a dribbler to keep some defensive attention off him, while the latter pair would offer him some relief of defensive duties and alleviate the need for him to drop deep to get the ball. The idea of him combining with Castrovilli and Franck Ribery through the middle or pinging balls through to Federico Chiesa is tantalizing, to say the least, and there’s no question that he’d be a significant talent upgrade.
Before we get too carried away, though, Banega has already stated his desire to stick with los Nervionenses despite interest from Boca Juniors. The clock is ticking on a deal, though, since his current contract runs out at season’s end. With Sevilla sitting just a point behind Barcelona and Real Madrid for first in la Liga, manager Julen Lopetegui is probably loath to alter a lineup that’s working just fine. If the brass decide to cash in on an asset who doesn’t have a long-term future at the club, though, he could be on the move this winter at a reduced rate regardless of the manager’s wishes.