By now you know that Dušan Vlahović won’t be renewing his Fiorentina contract when it runs out in 2023. It’s been a real kick in the crotch for Viola fans, who’ve been holding out hope that the young Serbian would accept a role as the centerpiece in Florence for the next few seasons, but it’s not exactly unexpected either.
After all, this is a 21-year-old international who scored 21 league goals last year and has 4 this year, making him Europe’s most sought-after center forward not named Erling Haaland. For a club of Fiorentina’s stature, keeping talented youngsters when the would-be Super League vultures come circling is generally a losing battle.
After months of fruitless negotiations with Vlahović and his agent Darko Ristić, the club announced that contract talks were finished. Now sporting director Daniele Pradè needs to figure out how to squeeze maximum value out of Dušan while the guy’s still around. How he goes about doing that, though, is the real question.
The first option is to just keep him. It’s unlikely that Fiorentina will be able to find a better player in that position (especially on such a low salary), so why not just ride the train for as long as possible and hope it pulls into Europe, where UEFA money and prestige await? The only problem there is that such a situation could get very awkward, with Vlahović and his teammates all knowing that they’re playing for different things. It could also lead to the striker sandbagging it, especially if he’s got a deal in place elsewhere, to avoid injury.
The second option is to keep him through the end of the year and sell him over the summer. That would give Pradè and Barone plenty of time to line up a replacement while also allowing manager Vincenzo Italiano as much continuity as possible in his first season. After all, the January mercato is famously hit-or-miss, and Fiorentina’s trajectory this year is good. As long as Vlahović keeps firing and inflating his value (and next salary), this could be in both parties’ best interest, as well as setting a precedent that the Viola won’t be pushed around by agents while still ensuring that players see them as a bridge to the next level.
The third option is to sell him in January to a Champions League team desperate for reinforcement, as Dušan isn’t cup-tied. While this would obviously disrupt the team tremendously, leaving a massive hole in the roster and forcing Pradè and company into panic buys at inflated prices as other clubs will know that Fiorentina are sitting on a lot of money, it could be the safest outcome for squad chemistry, which seems like one of Italiano’s main interests. Too, with other wantaway stars like Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi likely to be available, quickly reinvesting the profit might give the Viola their best chance at coming out ahead in this mess.
We’re ignoring the fourth option here, which is sending him to the stands for the next year and a half. While it may feel emotionally fulfilling in the pettiest way imaginable, that’s also a really good way for a club to alienate its current and future players, their agents, and the entire apparatus of the game while looking small-minded and dumb. The idea here is to get the biggest possible return, not to stroke anyone’s ego.
How should Fiorentina handle this Vlahović situation?
Let him run down his contract in 2023
Sell him at the end of the season
Sell him in January
Here’s your weekend thread. Stay loose.