It only took 17 days, but Daniele Pradè and co. have landed their first signing of the winter Mercato, 22-year-old Venezia midfielder Youssef Maleh. Maleh has put pen to paper on a deal that will see him remain on loan with the Lagunari through the end of the season, then come to Florence next July ready to fight for a place in Fiorentina’s midfield.
This deal has been rumored for close to a month now, but it’s a relief to finally see Fiorentina complete a transfer. The transfer fee itself is unknown but likely paltry due to the fact that Maleh’s contract was set to expire this summer, so any fee paid is more of a formality to keep good relations between the two clubs. Another aspect that facilitated this deal is that Maleh’s agent is Michelangelo Minieri, who also represents Christian Kouame and Gaetano Castrovilli.
Maleh began his career in the Cesena academy, debuting as a professional on loan with Serie C’s Ravenna in 2018. A transfer to Venezia followed in which he was loaned back to Ravenna, then broke into the Arancioneroverdi’s (wow) midfield in the 2019-2020 season, playing in 28 Serie B matches for more than 2000 minutes. Maleh’s form was impressive enough to warrant a first call-up into the Italy youth national team setup for the u21 side, where he debuted this past September. In his most recent appearance, against Sweden in November, Maleh scored this great goal below.
Maleh operates on the left-side on midfield for Venezia but has to versatility to play as a #8 or a #10, or to play more centrally if need be. Since Maleh refused a contract extension in December Venezia has refused to play him, so now that the transfer is official hopefully he can pick up where he left off in the fall and contribute right away.
Where Maleh fits into Fiorentina is yet to be soon, as he’s signing on to a club that needs a serious overhaul this summer both on the pitch and off. Fiorentina’s midfield has surprisingly been a glaring weakness for the squad this season, and with Sofyan Amrabat and Gaetano Castrovilli the only two players to be guaranteed a spot in the starting XI, there’s a chance for Maleh to feature sooner than we might expect. However, so much of his success at Fiorentina is dependent on unknown variables, such as what the new sporting director and/or manager think of him, so any speculation about how he fits into this Fiorentina is futile. For now, bringing in an Italian youth international who was one of the top midfielders in Serie B last season is a welcome move for the Viola, and we’re all going to have to try and find which obscure streaming service broadcasts Serie B matches internationally to watch him play.