When Youssef Maleh was signed from Venezia two seasons ago, there was plenty of excitement, and for good reason. Maleh was the best player on the pitch in Venezia’s promotion run at the end of the 2020-21 season and was a young Italian international signed on the cheap.
Now, however, it appears that his time with the Viola may be coming to an end. Several reports have none other than Pantaleo Corvino’s Lecce as the leading suitor for the 24-year-old, with Alfredo Pedulla reporting that a deal could be completed today.
January 1, 2023
Pedulla is pretty reliable with these sorts of transfers, so I expect this to go through. Pedulla states that Fiorentina and Maleh are posed to accept a loan with an obligation to buy if Lecce is not relegated. While the exact value of this obligation is unknown, I would expect something in the €4-5 million range.
I would be sad to see Maleh leave, but at the same time, this move makes sense for all parties. There were already too many midfielders on the Viola’s roster before Gaetano Castrovilli’s return, and now with our #10 back in the fold, yet another player in addition to Marco Benassi could not be registered for Serie A.
And while Maleh is a solid player with an excellent work rate, he lacks the creative spark or defensive bite to play consistently ahead of players like Antonin Barak and Alfred Duncan. While he logged 1009 Serie A minutes last season, this year he has only managed 297 minutes through 15 matches this season. With the aforementioned Castrovilli’s return looming, there’s little reason to expect that number to increase.
At this stage in Maleh’s career, playing time should be the priority. He’s still a fairly raw player that could blossom into a quality Serie A midfielder but being buried on the bench will not help him. If he wants to break into Morocco’s midfield for the African Cup of Nations, being a consistent starter at a club would go a long way.