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OFFICIAL: Benassi’s gone, but he’ll be back

The midfielder will try to haul Cremonese out of the drop zone, but we haven’t seen the last of him by a long stretch.

Italian Serie A Portrait Session Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Fiorentina continue to trim surplus midfielders from the roster. They’ve already shifted Szymon Żurkowski and Youssef Maleh, and it turns out that Marco Benassi is the next domino. He’s joined Cremonese on loan for the rest of the year in a dry loan with no possibility of making the move permanent.

It’s a good landing spot, as i Grigiorossi just appointed a new manager in Davide Ballardini, who won’t have attachments to any current players and will thus give the new arrival the opportunity to win a spot in the mister’s 3-5-2. While he’s a midfielder by reputation, he might fit as a wingback or even a striker, given his recent record for the Viola.

That record, of course, is pretty grim. Benassi hasn’t been a real part of the team since 2019-2020 season and has been loaned out the past couple of years. He wasn’t even registered to play in Serie A this year, leading to a pretty awkward situation in which he trained with the Viola but watched from the stands every week.

Of course, it’s a dry loan and not a sale, largely because Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone signed Benassi to a contract extension in 2020 that pays him a whopping €2.4 million a year until 2024. It was a deal that perplexed us at the time and has only grown more perplexing since, as it means that Benassi is unlikely to agree to a move away unless it pays him more.

And nobody is clamoring for Marco Benassi these days. He made 12 appearances after a second-half loan to Empoli last year but looked deeply average, and, aside from some goals in friendlies during the World Cup break, hasn’t done anything since his bizarre 7-goal campaign in 2018-2019. He’s been rejected time and again by Vincenzo Italiano, and that massive wage makes him very difficult to move on loan.

To Benassi’s credit, he’s never given up on his Viola career: he tried to reinvent himself last year as a rightback and worked as a winger in those friendlies, so he’s clearly willing to do whatever the manager says. That versatility should endear him to Ballardini, who’ll at least give him a chance.

But make no mistake, Marco will be back in the summer, ready to fight for a job in midfield. Or in defense. Or as a striker, or maybe a goalkeeper, or a data analyst. The man’s had one of the strangest Fiorentina careers I can recall, going from ballyhooed summer signing and midfield general of the future to inexplicable leading scorer to forgotten man to meme. He’s still only 28 and should have plenty of years as a professional, even if not many more will be in Flornence. We wish him the best of luck in Cremona and can’t wait to see him again.