As someone who is an unabashed dork about jersey numbers, the day when Fiorentina reveal who’s wearing which shirt is always one of the high points of the preseason for me, and this year is no different. Nearly everyone did a good job of choosing a number (although there were a couple of outliers). Have a look at the full list; after that, I’ll hit some of the highs and lows.
1. Alban Lafont
2. Vincent Laurini
3. Cristiano Biraghi
4. Nikola Milenković
5. Federico Ceccherini
6. Christian Nørgaard
7. Valentin Eysseric
8. Gerson [update 4:05 PM GMT: he made the right choice]
9. Giovanni Simeone
10. Marko Pjaca
11. Kevin Mirallas
14. Bryan Dabo
15. Maximiliano Olivera
16. David Hancko
17. Jordan Veretout
20. Germán Pezzella
21. Riccardo Sottil
23. Sebastian Cristoforo
24. Marco Benassi
25. Federico Chiesa
26. Edimilson Fernandes
27. Martin Graiciar
28. Dušan Vlahović
31. Vitor Hugo
34. Kevin Diks
69. Bartłomiej Drągowski
77. Cyril Théréau
98. Rafik Zekhnini
Let’s give a round of applause to Lafont, who becomes the first true Viola number one since Norberto Neto in 2015 (I’m not counting Luca Lezzerini, who was not the starter). It’s an auspicious start to the young Frenchman’s career at the Artmeio Franchi.
Ceccherini taking 5 is fine, although he’s not likely to play too many matches. Might have been nice to see that one go to a defensive midfielder, but we certainly won’t complain. Ditto for Nørgaard and 6; it’s an ambitious choice and indicates that Christian envisions himself as the holding midfielder the team needs after losing Milan Badelj.
I’m very into Valentin Eysseric sliding into 7 after wearing 10 last year. He never showed that he could wear the holiest of numbers, but he’s certainly closer to carrying on the legacy that Angelo di Livio established for it at the start of the millennium.
Leaving 8 vacant definitely raises some eyebrows, as Fernandes, Gerson, or Veretout would both be worthy recipients. Claudio Marchisio on a Bosman, anyone?
Marko Pjaca is the sort of player who’s got the quality to wear 10. He’s obviously not up to the level of Giancarlo Antognoni, Roberto Baggio, Rui Costa, or Adrian Mutu, but he’s not a disgrace to the shirt like, say, Ruben Olivera or el Tanque Silva. In terms of prestige and fit, let’s put this one right around Alberto Aquilani or Federico Bernardeschi. The only problem is that having a Juventus loanee wear the sacred number could raise a lot of hackles, particularly if he returns to Turin at season’s end.
Fiorentina haven’t had a good 11 since Juan Cuadrado bowed out; Ante Rebić, Hernán Toledo, Ianis Hagi, and Diego Falcinelli didn’t exactly set the purple world alight.
16 hasn’t seen too many stars, but has been the number of various useful squad members through the years: di Livio wore it in 2000, and it’s also graced the likes of Domenico Morfeo, Marco Donadel, Mattia Cassani, Jakub Błaszczykowski, and Cristian Tello. That Hancko has it now is a good omen for his contributing this season.
18 is open in case Riccardo Montolivo wants to come back, I guess. 19 (which has been my number since high school) is also open, which is surprising. It’s such a good shirt to wear. Maybe 22 is reserved for Giuseppe Rossi? Please?
I like Sottil in 21, which always seems like a strong supersub shirt.
I’m not quite sure what to think of Cristoforo switching to the 23 shirt that Manuel Pasqual occupied for a decade, particularly with his old 19 still open. Maybe he’s sending a statement to the club that he intends to stay in Florence for a long time.
26 doesn’t have a particularly distinguished history, so Fernandes has a chance to establish it as his own, unless you’re a big Panagiotis Kone fan. 27, on the other hand, has gone to various tantalizing young attackers who haven’t panned out in purple (see Samuel di Carmine, Haris Seferović, Rafał Wolski, Cristian Tello, Simone Lo Faso), so Graiciar has his work cut out for him to buck the trend. Similarly, Vlahović’s 28 still has the scent of Gil Dias on it, which isn’t too encouraging.
I’m not sure if I like Diks’ 34, as it’s Lorenzo Venuti’s old number from 2014. Then again, that was also the shirt that Andy Bangu wore on the bench in 2015, and I don’t think I need to describe my feelings about anything Bangu-related. [Update 4:47 PM Now we know why Diks picked this one.]
FYI: Diks chose 34 to honour Abdelham Nouri. A lot of dutch players are doing so this season.— Rick Verkennis (@rickverkennis) August 19, 2018
And goddammit Gerson. You wanted 97 enough to to push Drągowski back to his old number. This is your fault, especially because 8 WAS RIGHT THERE. (And then you fixed it. We’re going to be okay.)
Can’t wait until, like, 2030, when players born in the 90s will be retired and will stop picking shirt numbers to match their birth year. Such an unfortunate trend.