We all know right-back has been Fiorentina’s weakness for over a decade. Even those prime Cesare Prandelli teams of the late 2000s relied on players like Gianluca Comotto and Lorenzo Di Silvestri who while solid, were unspectacular.
Lorenzo Venuti has emerged over the last two seasons as a dependable backup, but he still lacks the dynamism necessary to pose an attacking threat, and his defending is fairly average. That’s why Fiorentina brought in Alvaro Odriozola this past offseason to complement and compete with Venuti.
When Odriozola arrived, my expectations with him were minimal. His defensive stats were so poor that I was terrified of how he’d fare against top-quality wingers. While Odriozola has statistically improved his defending slightly since joining, his contributions have mostly come from the attacking side of the pitch. Maybe his best moment of the season occurred on Monday against Spezia during Krzysztof Piątek’s goal. As seen in the picture below, Odri steps up at the halfway line and wins the ball off Guilio Maggiore, then takes the space in front of him and charges forward.
Then, he runs up the field and delivers a clever dummy which gives Piatek a tap-in at the far post.
While these are two great plays from Odriozola, it’s not just his highlights that have improved. Over the last month, he has taken his game to another level, and any debate between who should start over him and Venuti has been vanquished with it.
His on-the-field metrics are not the only thing winning fans over. When interviewed by Fiorentina’s official news outlets this week, he said the following:
“Fiorentina means passion, it means the purple color. Fiorentina is a way of life. Above all, it means representing one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With President Commisso it is a big family, with his way of dealing with the players there is a great human and family spirit. The fans drive me crazy. I love their passion for Fiorentina”.
It doesn’t seem like his happiness in the interview is fake, either. Reports from both Florence and Madrid in recent days have stated that Fiorentina wants to purchase Odriozola outright at the end of the season. However, Madrid is said to be asking for time, and want €20-25 million euros to consider a sale.
ODRIOVIOLA: AFFARE PARTITO. BOZZO DA ACF: ÁLVARO SPINGE MA IL REAL PRENDE TEMPO https://t.co/Gkq7GpVAvg— Andrea Giannattasio (@giannattasius) February 17, 2022
That price is certainly enough to make me balk. Odriozola has been good this year, sure. But buying him at that price would put him as the second most expensive purchase in Fiorentina’s history, and is he that good? So much of his success this season has been due to Vincenzo Italiano not asking him to defend much. This team could find more success should it bring in someone like Zeki Celik, who would likely be available for less and could contribute far more defensively.
That’s why at that price, I’m out. However, a lot can change between now and June, and if Odri really does want to stay in Firenze I can easily envision that price dropping closer to the €12-15 million euro mark, at which point I’d be much more willing to make the deal. We’ll see how this one plays out, but no matter what he’s turned himself into a fan favorite.