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Report: Fiorentina looking to improve backup leftback

Swapping out Terzić for Parisi could be a really smart move, but it’s a very complicated one.

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

While Cristiano Biraghi may not be everyone’s favorite (although he’s actually very good), one of the reasons he’s led Fiorentina in minutes played over the past couple years is that the roster simply doesn’t contain any viable alternatives to him, at least not according to Vincenzo Italiano. What that means, of course, is that Aleksa Terzić may be surplus to requirements, and now Bologna is interested.

The 23-year-old Serbian has managed 24 Serie A appearances for the Viola in the 3 years since he joined from Crvena zvezda for €1.7 million in 2019, but only 3 of those have been starts, and his average length of appearance is just 22 minutes. While he’s shown flashes this year of his speed and crossing, he’s always looked suspect with his defensive positioning, tackling, and concentration.

Again, this isn’t to say that he’s a bad player, but he clearly hasn’t earned Italiano’s trust, and for a guy who was hyped as the next big thing in Belgrade at one point, he clearly wants to prove himself. Perhaps that’s why his agent Nikola Kolarov is actively shopping him; it’s nothing personal. It’s just business.

Enter Fabiano Parisi. The Empoli leftback has captured the imagination of a bunch of clubs around the peninsula and elsewhere with his swashbuckling performances over the past two and a half seasons, earning a call up to the Italy senior side in a friendly against Austria last November, although he didn’t make it off the bench for his first cap. The Viola have a long-standing fascination with him and could be preparing a big offer right now.

It’s easy to see what all the fuss is about, too: Parisi is a dynamic force going forward, possessing excellent pace and athleticism that he uses to get forward whenever possible. Capable of beating a man with the ball at his feet and clever enough to sneak into dangerous positions without it, his delivery from the wide areas is pretty good. His defensive work—tackling, marking, positioning—could use some work, but he already looks like an excellent understudy to Biraghi at minimum.

Where things get tricky is swapping him for Terzić. The Serbian spent a year on loan at Empoli and looked sharp, so he could be part of a deal, but Bologna’s apparently ready to offer a decent amount of cash (something around €4 million) that likely exceeds Empoli’s valuation. Joe Barone and Daniele Pradè are apparently trying to use Szymon Żurkowski and/or Lorenzo Venuti in an exchange, but those are much easier to organize on FIFA than in real life, especially since Empoli may want to hang onto Parisi until the summer.

The easiest solution may be to arrange Terzić’s sale at the end of the season, then buy Parisi and loan him back to Empoli for 6 months. If there’s a way to shift Żurkowski into that deal in order to free up a roster spot, so much the better. However, that doesn’t really move the needle for this year, especially since losing Biraghi—the captain and clubhouse leader in minutes played—could be disastrous without an adequate replacement.

If I’m honest, I don’t really see Parisi ending up in Florence. He’s got clubs like Inter Milan and Lazio interested, and apparently Leeds United and Everton are sniffing around too. Fiorentina can’t compete with that financial muscle, although maybe a good relationship with Empoli on transfers could help a little. Parisi, for his part, may not want to move to Fiorentina without guarantees of playing time, which could push Biraghi to the bench and lead to some locker room tension.

Still, I really like Parisi and think that he’s got the look of an international-level player, albeit maybe not a bona fide star. Grabbing him for a reasonable price would represent an upgrade over Terzić and a great investment for the club’s future as an asset that will likely gain significant value. If there’s a way to set all these parts in motion, hopefully Pradè and Barone can figure it out.