I’ve always been a little bit eccentric about shirt numbers, to the point where, in my FIFA and FM saves, I have very strict rules about which players can wear which numbers. I’m just as picky when on my Sunday league teams (depending on if I’m playing at the back or in midfield, I’ll accept 4, 8, 15, or 19). So, one of my favorite articles to write every year is my judgement on the digits each Fiorentina player chooses.
Because I always add a disclaimer to everything I write, please note that, in this case, there is no context. There are no mitigating circumstances. My opinions are entirely correct and beyond reproach, and if you disagree, it is because you have deliberately chosen to be wrong.
1—Pietro Terracciano: The World’s Funnest Dad keeps his shirt from last year. Good, solid choice. No arguments here, especially since he seems to be the starter here in the early going.
2—Dodô: This is the correct number for a rightback, so I’m thrilled that the new signing got it. I’m a bit more confused about how he convinced LMQ to give it up after two years, but that’s another story. Well done, Dodô. I knew I liked you.
3—Cristiano Biraghi: This has been Captain Cris’ number since he signed on in 2017, aside from that weird year he was on loan at Inter Milan and Igor took it over. 3 is one of the correct numbers for a leftback (6 is the other) and it warms my heart that Biraghi believes in doing things right. That’s why he’s the captain.
4—Nikola Milenković: A very solid number for a central defender and the one Nihola seems to prefer above all others. Great choice.
5—Giacomo Bonaventura: Look, I get that Jack is a veteran and can make his own choices. I also get that he’s had a soft spot for 5 dating back to 2016 with AC Milan. The fact remains, though, that 5 is for a central defender or a South American midfield enforcer. Jack, and I say this with nothing but admiration for him as a player and a person, is neither.
7—Luka Jović: This can be a forward’s number, but c’mon. Everyone knows that 7 is a tricky right winger, blessed with pace and tricks (or David Pizarro, but that’s another story). Luka ain’t that at all. I’ll cut him some slack since Cabral has his favored 9, but 18 (his original number at Real Madrid) or any number of other options would’ve been more appropriate. Not totally his fault, but he certainly could’ve chosen better.
8—Riccardo Saponara: The Cheese may be the nicest guy on the team and he’s a class player, but he’s also not an 8. An 8 is central midfielder, and, alas, Rickynara isn’t that. We know because we’ve seen managers try it. He’s been all over the map in his career (22, 5, 10, 21, 18, 91, 23), and I wish he’d chosen something in the low 20s instead.
9—Arthur Cabral: King Arthur got this spot on. He’s big, robust, and enthusiastic, everything you want in a striker. Just need to get the goals flowing, but that’s not really the point of this exercise.
10—Gaetano Castrovilli: Creative attacking midfielder? Check. Mercurial? Check. Outrageous natural ability? Check. Tanino’s on point.
11—Jonathan Ikoné: Say what you will about his work in the colors, his number is just about right. The only quibble I have is that an 11 likes to play on the left and Jon clearly prefers cutting in from the right, but 11 on a left-footed winger falls solidly within the realm of acceptability.
14—Youssef Maleh: Not a terrible pick, actually. While 14 can conjure memories of brilliant creators a la Johann Cruyff, it’s also a good, hardworking number; Bryan Dabo, Luciano Zauri, and Mister Grit himself (yep, Beppe Iachini) have all worn it in Florence. Youssef definitely falls more into the latter category, but I’d like to believe it’s at least mildly aspirational, too.
15—Aleksa Terzić: Pounced as soon as Erick was on the outs, and it’s a huge improvement over the 93 he originally wore, although I actually liked him better in 17 last year. Still, can’t argue too much with it. Well done, Aleksa.
16—Luca Ranieri: Nailed it. 16 is a great number for a reserve defender. Luca’s choice would probably be 3, but 16 is so solid for him.
22—Nicolás González: Very good. This has been his number since he arrived in Europe and it’s a sound choice for a left-footed winger. Wouldn’t have minded seeing him grab 7, but 22 is just fine.
23—Lorenzo Venuti: I know that there’s history of long-serving Fiorentina fullbacks wearing 23, but it’s always struck me as the third goalkeeper’s number; 1 is the starter, 12 is the backup, and 23 is the third guy. I love Lorenzo and his beautiful smile but this always grates on me just a little bit, although choosing to believe that it’s a tribute to Manuel Pasqual eases the pain.
24—Marco Benassi: This has always been his number of choice, which is exactly as inexplicable as Marco himself. To his credit, I think it fits him better as a rightback than a midfielder, so maybe he’s reaching his final evolution.
27—Szymon Żurkowski: This has been his favorite for years, but in Florence, 27 is the kiss of death. Cristian Tello probably had the most success in it over the past couple of decades, which tells you all you need to know.
28—Lucas Martínez Quarta: While there’s nothing wrong with a centerback wearing 28, especially since he wore it for years at River Plate, it’s always had a certain third-string attacker feel to me.
31—Michele Cerofolini: Yeah, fine. Let’s agree it’s a nod to Our Lord and Savior Antonio Rosati, who repped this one back in 2014.
33—Riccardo Sottil: It’s an adequate number for a winger, yeah, but it’s a bit strange that he’s so wedded to this one. Really thought he’d go back to 11 last year when it was briefly available.
34—Sofyan Amrabat: Like Ricky, this is his number. He’s worn it since reaching Italy. It’s okay for a midfield destroyer, but 6 would’ve been a really strong choice as well. Still, personal preference is fine, even when it’s a bit suspect.
38—Rolando Mandragora: He really likes 38 but I cannot for the life of me figure out why, especially with so many better options available. Is this the most blasphemous number or something?
42—Alessandro Bianco: Solid number for a youth player looking to break through, but wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more ambition and getting something in the 20s or at least the low 30s.
72—Antonín Barák: Definitely a weirdo, but does fit into a certain club tradition of tall, elegant, slightly awkward-looking attacking midfielders from central Europe who arrive in Florence from a provincial Italian side (hi, Lurch). Seems to prefer 7, but there were so many options in the teens that would’ve been better.
95—Pierluigi Gollini: Can’t wait until 2040 or so, when all the players born in the 80s and 90s will stop using their birth year as a shirt number. It’s ghastly.
98—Igor: That thing I just wrote? Doesn’t apply to Igor because he’s way too scary for me to criticize ever under any circumstances. Great decision, big guy. Keep doing you.
99—Christian Kouamé: Another guy who maybe would’ve chosen 11 if given his druthers. Was born in 1997, though, so I’m very confused by this choice, even though it worked great for him at Anderlecht last year. While he’s still the best comeback story on the team, I’d love Chris even more if he’d opted for something a little less, um, bad.
I will not be taking further questions at this time. Thank you.