There are a number of Fiorentina players who are wearing, um, inspired shirt numbers. While some of them make perfect sense—Chiesa’s 25 as a tribute to his dad’s old number or Pulgar, Cutrone, and Drągowski with what seem to be birth years for influential people in their lives—some of them simply don’t find room in a purist’s mind.
While we can all argue in favor of extending self-expression (at least into the double digits), let’s do what World Cup squads do: we’ll start at 1 and count upwards, with the regular starting lineup taking 1-11. Unlike World Cup squads, we won’t stop at 23, but will keep going until we’re through the full senior roster. We’ve also included every player’s current number in parentheses after his name.
1. Bartłomiej Drągowski (69)
The starting goalkeeper wears number one. It’s as simple as that.
2. Pol Lirola (21)
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Pol wearing 21, but it’s a well-known fact that the 2 shirt is reserved for the the guy on the right side of a back four. Sorry, Emiliano Viviano.
3. Dalbert (29)
While 6 would also be acceptable, 3 has a stronger association with the defense.
4. Nikola Milenković (4)
Not only has the Mountain chosen a number that fits his position, but we’re also not going to tell him otherwise.
5. Germán Pezzella (20)
After Borja Valero’s outster as the mayor, it still feels weird to see 20 in the heart of the defense. Again, there’s nothing necessarily wrong here, but 5 is a good number for a no-nonsense central defender (although we also understand that it’s a midfield number in Pezzella’s native Argentina) and is the only one remaining for us to cram everyone in here.
6. Erick Pulgar (78)
A classic number for the defensive midfield in much of the world. When Ribery arrived and poached 7 from him, it would have been lovely if he’d just dropped down a single number and taken this one, which is still vacant.
7. Franck Ribery (7)
While you can maybe quibble that this belongs on someone who plays primarily on the right wing, I’m willing to let it slide; Ribery was instrumental in the rise of the inverted winger and deserves have his shirt number reflect that.
8. Alfred Duncan (88)
This is THE central midfielder number. In modern parlance, the 8 is often a runner tasked with connecting the attack and defense with his movement while also serving as a secondary creator and destroyer in the middle: essentially, he’s the all-rounder. From what we’ve seen, that’s clearly Duncan’s role, and he definitely wants the number; he finally got it at Sassuolo earlier this year and had to double it when he arrived in Florence. Let him have it.
9. Dušan Vlahović (28)
Although he’s anything but a traditional number nine—movement in the box isn’t great, not an aerial goal threat at all, holdup play is still hmm developing—he’s the starting striker for this team and thus deserves the squad number for it. That said, Cutrone is probably more of a classic nine and I wouldn’t argue him taking it either.
10. Gaetano Castrovilli (8)
Far be it from me to tell Tanino how to run his business, but a guy with his ecstatic dribbling ability driving through the middle is a 10, not an 8. With Kevin-Prince Boateng off the roster, maybe Castro will make the switch this summer and open up his current number for poor Alfred Duncan.
11. Federico Chiesa (25)
He’d be fine in 7 or 10, but his role the past couple of years as a hybrid winger-striker fits perfectly with 11, which traditionally belongs on the left wing. Fede, though, floats all over the place, and Alberto Gilardino firmly established 11 as an option for center forwards in Florence.
12. Pietro Terracciano (1)
Just as the starting goalie wears 1, the backup wears 12. It is known.
13. Davide Astori (13)
For now and for always.
14. Milan Badelj (5)
This one has teetered mostly between central midfielders (Bryan Dabo, Matías Fernández) and no-nonsense defenders (Cesare Natali, Luciano Zauri) for the past decade, so it’s a bit of a tossup. However, Sandro Cois wore 14 for much of the 90s, so we’ll tip it in the direction of defensive midfield and send it to the redoubtable Badelj.
15. Martín Cáceres (22)
This has been a defender’s number for years in Florence, and Martín Cáceres is definitely the next defender up.
16. Rachid Ghezzal (18)
I sort of hate to do this, but 16’s been a bit of a cursed number for Fiorentina for the past 15 years or so. I don’t mean any offense to Ghezzal, but as a player who’s made little impact and will likely not see his deal redeemed, he’s a good candidate to occupy it for a season and then move on, leaving it for another unfortunate soul next year. Again, nothing against Rachid, who’s not a bad player; it’s just the way this one breaks.
17. Federico Ceccherini (17)
Another player wearing the right shirt. While 17’s gone to a lot of Viola wingers over the years (Andrei Kanchelskis, Jörg Heinrich, Papa Waigo, Joaquín), none of the current players seem to have any attachment to it. In contrast, Cecche’s worn 17 consistently throughout his career, so he’s welcome to it.
18. Kevin Agudelo (19)
This one’s predominantly been a central midfield number for the Viola, so Agudelo should be well served by it. He also wore 18 for a year at Atlético Huila, so it’s not too foreign to him.
19. Igor (3)
Another shirt with a weird recent history that defies classification, which sort of fits Igor well; is he a centerback or a fullback? Should we call him Igor or Julio Igor? Can he actually bench press a Fiat 500? On the plus side, 19’s graced some very solid left-sided defenders for the Viola this millenium in José María Basanta (who just turned 36 yesterday) and the immortal Massimo Gobbi, so it’s not a bad spot for the young Brazilian to start.
20. Christian Kouamé (9)
This is one of the best numbers you can get in Florence given the players who’ve worn it previously: Borja Valero, Martin Jørgensen, and Enrico Chiesa are club heroes; Pezzella’s the current captain; Papa Waigo, Giampaolo Pazzini, and Domenico Morfeo are all cult figures; and heck, Emiliano Bigica’s the youth coach now. Those are big shoes to fill, both on and off the pitch, but we’re betting on Kouamé to continue that legacy of excellence as he seems like a genuinely lovely dude and we’re very excited to get to know him better.
21. Patrick Cutrone (63)
This feels about right for the young striker, as it’s been a number that alternates between rock-solid midfielders (Gaetano d’Agostino, Giuliano Migliaccio, Massimo Ambrosini) and young attackers stopping by these digits before moving onto a more appropriate shirt (Khouma Babacar, Riccardo Saponara, Riccardo Sottil).
22. Riccardo Sottil (11)
He loves that 11 shirt and shows every sign of growing into it very soon, but for the purposes of this exercise, he’ll have to settle for 22. On the plus side, that’s been a very good number for Viola attackers of late: Giuseppe Rossi and Adem Ljajić aren’t bad company at all for a young winger looking for his big break. Almost picked 20 for him, as his father Andrea wore that in the 1995-1996 season for Fiorentina.
23. Lorenzo Venuti (23)
I still think of this as Manuel Pasqual’s number, so I love that it’s gone to a perhaps limited but admirably committed fullback in Lollo. Here’s hoping his career matches Manny’s when it’s all said and done.
24. Marco Benassi (24)
He clearly loves this shirt number so I’m all for letting him keep it, especially because it’s been associated with mercurial players like Alessio Cerci and Mario Santana in the past.
69. Cyril Théréau (77)
Because of course.
Again, this is in no way to question anyone’s choice in shirt numbers. Rather, it’s a thought exercise born of the boredom of quarantine. That said, it’s going to get even more interesting next year when Sofyan Amrabat and a host of youngsters (Luca Ranieri, Szymon Żurkowski, Tòfol Montiel, Gabriele Gori, et cetera) link up with the senior team, not to mention any possible transfers. But oh, just think how beautiful it could all be.