At first, it seemed the simplest of deals. Barcelona had pulled Cristian Tello from his loan at Porto and sent him instead to Fiorentina, where he'd performed quite well and really settled in. The player said that he wanted to stay with the Serie A club, so the Viola and Blaugrana began talks. Instead of wrapping the affair up quickly and neatly, the matter dragged on for months as neither side could agree on the amount to bring the winger back. Two weeks ago, the Barca brass made it clear that Tello was leaving, upping the stakes. But now, we can report that Cristian Tello will be back on a year-long loan, with a fee of €8 million due next June to make the move permanent.
Tello was sporadically brilliant for Fiorentina after arriving in the winter mercato. He showcased some skillful dribbling, good vision, and a willingness and ability to track back. But the biggest feature to his game, as always, was his sheer, Roadrunner-esque pace. Always a threat to get in behind, he forced opposing defenses back, which in turn provided the Viola midfield with more space to operate.
With Paulo Sousa claiming he wants to switch to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, Fiorentina fans are relishing the prospect of Tello, Federico Bernardeschi, and Hernan Toledo bursting up the touchlines. This news, along with the signing of Carlos Sanchez and the imminent arrival of what should be a top-class defender, should go a long way to settle the nerves of the Franchi faithful. The focus will now shift to buying a backup leftback, selling a couple of strikers, and trying to keep the rest of the squad intact for a serious run at the Champions League in what should be a very different Serie A.