While Morocco won’t win the World Cup, the Atlas Lions’ unexpected run into the semifinals means that they’ve gone further than any African side in the competition’s history, leaving their indelible stamp on this tournament as the people’s champ. Their combative, gutsy performances have come from an unbelievable group of players who’ve achieved beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. And the beating heart and burning lungs of the team is Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat.
While his incredible showing for the most iconic team of this World Cup have turned everyone into an Amrabat fan, the Viola faithful knew it was coming: he’s been at this level since the end of last year and has, at the very least, recaptured the Hellas Verona form that made him Serie A’s best midfielder in 2020. I’d argue that he’s surpassed it. There’s no doubt that he’s been Fiorentina’s best player this year and frequently the only thing holding the club together through a rocky start.
The thing is, though, that when a guy goes to the World Cup and produces a string of show-stopping performances, everyone’s going to try and buy him. As of this week, it sounds like Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and Atletico Madrid are all intereted, and he’d likely be a perfect fit at any of them. The Reds desperately need his energy in the middle and you can see him becoming an unholy terror under Jürgen Klopp. Antonio Conte tried to grab him last year, and he’d fit Spurs perfectly. And his particular brand of blood and thunder looks tailor-made for Diego Simeone.
When you look for the definition of « manly » in the dictionary, this video of Sofyan Amrabat pops up pic.twitter.com/YNdZQBgiwR— Ramo | عمر (@ramolannisters) December 6, 2022
Amrabat, for his part, has been as professional as ever. That steadiness is one of his most admirable qualities. Even as his brother Nordin speaks to the press about the need for a move away, Sofyan himself has reiterated the respect he has for Fiorentina and the excellent rapport he has with manager Vincenzo Italiano and owner Rocco Commisso, who’ve always backed him to the hilt. With a contract running to 2024 (with a club option for another year) and Joe Barone and Daniele Pradè ready to open talks about an extension that could double his salary, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Viola hung onto their top player.
But. Amrabat has played like an absolute maniac in this tournament, to the point that he’s needed daily injections to manage the pain that comes with his physical dominance and jaw-dropping work rate. Nobody can maintain that level for long, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Viola 34 has given everything he has for his national team and returns to Florence as a husk for a few months. He may not be able to maintain the heroic standard he’s set because that’s just not possible over two games a week for 9 months.
Too, his value will never be higher. He’s been, in my opinion, the best player at the World Cup; while the Golden Ball always goes to a goalscorer, nobody has impacted games like Amrabat. While he’s an undeniably skillful player, with quick feet and a marvelous range of passing, his athleticism is also crucial to how he plays, and those types of players often have shorter careers than ones who rely more on technique. €30 million has been the amount we’ve heard floated for him in various reports, which feels like it’s at the lower end of the spectrum, but this could be the opportunity for a massive plusvalenza.
Pradè and Barone have demonstrated time and again that they’re very good at selling star players for maximum value. Getting €60 million for Federico Chiesa and €80 million for Dušan Vlahović after both had publicly refused contract extensions and stated their only destination was Juventus is very impressive negotiating, even if both episodes remain wildly frustrating. There’s not a doubt in my mind that, if selling Amrabat were the necessary step, the Viola brain trust would maximize his value.
The problem, though, is what comes next, as the club hasn’t shown a willingness to spend those massive fees. While the cost of the new Centro Sportivo is considerable, Fiorentina has a net transfer profit of over €70 million these past two years and has shown no real interest in reinvesting it. Developing superstars is an excellent skill for an organization to possess, but it doesn’t lead to success on its own. There has to be squad-wide improvement too.
It’s hard to imagine Fiorentina finding a defensive midfielder as good as Amrabat, regardless of price, and that goes double in January. If there’s a long-term succession plan in place, perhaps a sale could be justified if the funds go into reinforcing other areas of the roster. Even then, though, it’s not a good look for a club to sell its top player three years in a row, all the while insisting on its ambition to consistently threaten for the European places.
It’s definitely a conundrum: sell while his value is the highest and hope that the funds strengthen the rest of the squad, reducing the impact of his departure? Or hang onto a guy at all costs, even though his powers may be severely diminished after his leonine performances on the world’s biggest stage?
Should Fiorentina sell Amrabat?
This poll is closed
Not under any circumstances.
Not until the summer mercato at the earliest.
Yes, as soon as an offer meets the club’s valuation.
Here’s your weekend thread. Stay loose.