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Search for a new centerback nearing conclusion

Pantaleo Corvino has located his targets. Now he's homing in on them like a corvine torpedo.

And he's got a really excellent haberdasher.
And he's got a really excellent haberdasher.
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Fiorentina's almost comical lack of defenders has been something of a running joke around these parts for the past year, and has intensified into something a bit uneasier these last couple of months. With just five defenders on the roster who are ready for the senior side, there's a serious dearth of options in the backline. The Viola have been linked to pretty much every available, possibly available, and unavailable centerback out there, but it seems like Corvino has narrowed it down to two targets.

The top priority, according to various media outlets, is Lokomotiv Moscow and Croatia captain Vedran Ćorluka. He's a towering presence at the back, excellent in the air and in the tackle, and his experience in organizing a defense would be a bonus as well. Although he primarily played rightback with Tottenham Hotspur, his pace has deserted him as he's aged (although he's just 30), and he's now almost exclusively a central defender. It's possible that Corvino has already made the deal to bring him to Florence. We've heard reports of an initial year-long loan with a mandatory fee between €3 million and €4 million due at the end of the season, which seems like a steal. His wages are very high--around €2.8 million--but the proximity of a deal would seem to indicate his willingness to take a pay cut.

The fallback plan is Juventus outcast Martín Caceres, who's been injured for most of the past year and subsequently fallen down the pecking order and wants to get himself back on track. The 29 year old Uruguayan international is a good bit shorter than Ćorluka, but also much quicker across the ground. He's also capable of kicking out wide to play fullback. His price seems to have settled in the €5 million range, which is a very good deal, but he doesn't seem particularly excited about becoming a Fiorentina player. The Viola approached him earlier this summer to no avail, and while he's now a bit more receptive, it seems he may be holding out for an offer from elsewhere.

What's interesting about these dudes is what can be read into Fiorentina's interest in them. Both are experienced internationals who offer some versatility at the back, which could mean that Paulo Sousa expects to keep using the asymmetrical defense first installed by Vincenzo Montella, which features a very attack-minded leftback and a very defense-minded rightback (usually a centerback), with the latter dropping in to allow the other centerbacks to slide across and cover the pitch horizontally. Both of these guys would be a step up in quality compared to Nenad Tomović, but neither would beat out Gonzalo Rodríguez or Davide Astori for playing time at the heart of the defense. While it's been widely assumed that Sousa was going to move to a 4-2-3-1, his preferred formation at all his previous coaching stops, the arrival of a top-quality centerback (along with the mister's insistence on more wingers) could indicate that he wants to install a 3-4-3, which would be fascinating, albeit terrifying.