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Kouamé leaving Fiorentina to represent Côte d’Ivoire at AFCON

We wish the forward the best of luck, although his absence does leave the Viola in a bit of a pickle.

AC Monza v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A TIM Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Fiorentina’s winter transfer window already looked tricky and just got a little trickier with Christian Kouamé earning a call up for the Côte d’Ivoire’s African Cup of Nations campaign. It’s a well-deserved honor for the versatile forward but does complicate matters for the club.

Kouamé, 26, has filled in all across the Viola front line this season, chipping in a goal and an assist across 21 appearances this year. Those counting numbers belie his influence on the field: his tactical intelligence and selflessness are exemplary, his work rate is inspirational, and his combination of aerial skill, sheer pace, and surprising dribbling bring the best out of his teammates.

Those qualities are perfect for an international tournament, where organization and discipline usually supersede brilliant planning, and Kouamé has impressed Côte d’Ivoire boss Jean-Louis Gasset so much that he’s become the regular starter on the right wing, scoring his second goal for the Elephants in their most recent match at the Gambia.

Kouamé will leave for training camp after the Torino game. He’ll miss at least 9 matches, including the Coppa Italia quarterfinal against Bologna and the two Supercoppa games in Saudi Arabia later this month, but he’ll return in time for the Conference League knockout rounds.

While we’re delighted for Kouamé and wish him success, his absence does complicate matters for Vincenzo Italiano and Fiorentina. It sounds like M’Bala Nzola won’t be at the tournament with Angola, so the striker situation isn’t too dire, but Kouamé’s looked very useful up front. Furthermore, Nicolás González is still injured, and with Josip Brekalo on the way out and Riccardo Sottil always an injury risk, the Viola attack looks thin.

Italiano’s options in the squad are pretty limited. Gino Infantino doesn’t look ready yet, if his cameo on the wing against Parma is any indication, and may end up leaving on loan in January. The other potential candidates—Adrián Dénes, Fallou Sene, Tomasso Rubino—are Primavera teenagers who are well off first team relevance.

Dipping into the transfer market is equally complex, as any replacement will likely be of the short-term variety. It’s hard to convince a player to sign up for only a month or two or regular minutes, much less one of Kouamé’s quality and malleability. If Daniele Pradè does opt for a move, don’t expect him to spend much; a loan or a cheap veteran are the likeliest outcomes.

Again, we’re wishing the best of luck to Christian Kouamé, especially as his country is hosting the tournament. If you want to follow his progress, Côte d’Ivoire is in Group A, playing Guinea-Bissau (Saturday 13 January 2024), Nigeria (Thursday 18 January 2024), and Equatorial Guinea (Monday 22 January 2024), and hopefully arriving in the final on 11 February 2024.