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How have young Fiorentina alumni fared in recent years?

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We’ve seen no shortage of young talent leave Florence, but it hasn’t always worked out for them.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-PESCARA-FIORENTINA Photo credit should read CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images

Federico Chiesa’s move to Juventus could eventually end up earning Fiorentina €60 million. This would make him the most expensive Viola player ever sold, surpassing the €41.32 million paid by Milan for Rui Costa in 2001. As speculation runs rampant as to what the 22-year-old’s impact will be in Turin, it’s worth considering how other promising youngsters have managed of late when leaving Florence for big money.

Here is a look at the five most-expensive players aged 24 or younger sold by Fiorentina in the past decade:

At the top of the list is of course Federico Bernardeschi, who, after putting up 11 goals, four assists and an average rating of 7.02 per WhoScored.com in his final Serie A campaign with Fiorentina, moved to Juventus in 2017. At 23 years old and considered one of the brightest talents in the Italian game, he was then valued at €30 million by Transfermarkt, and sold at a cost of €40 million.

The move still feels somewhat like a work in progress. His first campaign, 2017/2018, was statistically his best, with four goals and six assists in Serie A to go along with an average rating of 6.81. The following year, despite playing nearly twice the minutes, he managed only two goals and three assists with an average rating of 6.68. The fall-off continued this past season with just a single goal and assist and an average rating of 6.52.

Unsurprisingly, his market value has charted a similar course, rising as high as €45 million in the middle of the 2018/2019 season before plummeting all the way to the €25 million it stands at today.

Now 26, Bernardeschi has yet to feature for Juve this season and his future role with the club remains to be seen under Andrea Pirlo. While undeniably talented and still a regular feature in Roberto Mancini’s Italy side, it’s hard to see this move as anything other than a disappointment at this stage.

Bernardeschi will certainly hope his career doesn’t come to resemble that of another 23-year-old with equally lofty expectations. Stevan Jovetic was considered one of the brightest talents in Europe before he left for Manchester City in 2013 for €26 million. In the two seasons prior to his departure the playmaker put up 14 and 13 goals respectively with average ratings of 7.51 and 7.54. At the time of the move, his market value was €28 million, just slightly down from the €30 million peak it had hit earlier that season.

Yet it just wasn’t meant to be for the Montenegrin, who over two seasons in England dealt with a spate of injuries that kept him from breaking into the squad with any consistency. He made just 11 starts over that span, scoring eight goals in total before landing back in Serie A with Inter two years later. He would last one season in Milan, playing fairly regularly while putting up six goals and an average rating of 6.89. After an unremarkable year with Sevilla in La Liga, Jovetic wound up at Monaco in 2017, where again injuries have been the major story and he’s made just 32 Ligue 1 appearances over the past three seasons.

Now 30, Jovetic’s market value has slid considerably since his move from Fiorentina, essentially falling with each subsequent move to its current €6.5 million. Remembering how electric the youngster was at the dawn of his career, it’s hard not to feel for him given the bad injury luck he’s had, and also not to wonder what might have been.

Stefan Savić was 24 when he left Fiorentina for Atlético Madrid for a fee of €25 million in 2015. At the time a mainstay in the Viola backline, the Serbian was valued at €15 million and coming off three straight seasons with more than 25 league starts and an average rating of 7.26 over that span.

After featuring sparsely in his first campaign, Savić became a regular fixture in Diego Simeone’s stout backline and saw his market value quietly but steadily rise to as high as €40 million by the end of 2018. While his playing time over the past two seasons has not been as consistent, due in part to injury trouble, he has started two of three games so far this year for Atleti, and, at 29, is still valued at a solid €20 million. Hard to call this move anything but a sound success.

Inextricably linked to Savić is another defender, and another Serbian in Matija Nastasić. The 19-year-old was sold to Manchester City in 2012 for €15.2 million in a deal that included Savić moving in the other direction. The youngster played just one full season in Florence, but was a standout as a teenager, making 21 starts, scoring twice and putting up an average rating of 7.03.

At the time of the move, Nastasić was valued at €5.5 million and considered one of the best young defenders in Europe, and he seemed to acquit himself quite well in his first season in England, making 21 league starts with an average rating of 7.02. However, a knee injury the following year would cause him to miss three months of action and limit his contribution to just 13 league appearances in total with minimal impact.

Despite this, the player’s value actually rose to €21 million, but Man City, wasting no time on its way to becoming a super club, decided to loan him out to Schalke midway through the 2014/2015 campaign and eventually sell him to the Bundesliga club that summer. After a promising half-season in Germany with 16 starts and an average rating of 7.22, a ruptured Achilles tendon would see him miss essentially the entirety of 2015/2016.

Yet he would return strong, and his market value, which had fallen to as low as €12 million at Schalke, climbed all the way to €22 million by the end of 2018. Last season, however, more Achilles and knee issues caused him to miss over a month and as a result he made only 15 largely unremarkable starts and saw his market value drop to its current €10 million, the lowest it’s been since he left Fiorentina.

Nastasić’s story appears to be another of bad injury luck keeping him from reaching his full potential. That said, he has found a home and some consistency at Schalke, and, still only 27 years old, could yet have plenty to offer.

Rounding out the top five is yet another Serbian, the talented if tempestuous Adem Ljajic. In 2013, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder was sold to Roma for €12 million, which was exactly on par with his market value at the time. He was coming off a breakout 2012/2013 campaign with 11 goals, eight assists and an average rating of 7.30 across 28 total Serie A appearances.

Ljajic was certainly not bad at Roma, but also never quite lived up to the high standard he’d set for himself. Over two years, he appeared in 60 Serie A games and scored 14 goals to go along with seven assists and an average rating of 6.9. It’s not quite clear if the subsequent loan move to Inter the following season was a step up or down, but either way he again held his own without ever really shining with three goals and three assists across 23 league appearances.

He would find new life at Torino, however, with back-to-back impressive campaigns in 2016/2017 (10 goals, eight assists, 7.18 rating) and 2017/2018 (six goals, 10 assists, 7.21 rating). Despite the success, Ljajic would ultimately decide on a move to Besiktas in Turkey where his numbers have remained similarly solid. Through it all, his market value reached a peak of €15 million during his time at Inter and has now settled at just €8 million, its lowest mark since leaving Florence.

Ljajic remains a bit of an enigma, immensely talented but highly volatile and seemingly never far from his next fallout with a manager. This is likely the main reason he’s not lasted too long wherever he’s been post-Fiorentina. Now in his third season with Besiktas, the 28-year-old has recently seen his motivation questioned and playing time slip. It’s a familiar story.


What does this all mean for Federico Chiesa? His numbers this past season look awfully similar to Bernardeschi’s final Serie A campaign in Florence: 10 goals, six assists and an average rating of 7.05. His market value hit a peak in December 2019 of €60 million, the exact amount Fiorentina will bring in if certain stipulations are reached. Since then, it’s cooled off to €48 million. Where it will go from here is anyone’s guess, but recent history suggests he’ll face an uphill battle.