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What’s next for Gaetano Castrovilli?

The Viola number 10 is facing down some difficult decisions.

Grosseto v Fiorentina - Pre-season Friendly Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Gaetano Castrovilli finds himself in an unenviable position as Fiorentina sit a week away from the season opener. After a failed series of negotiations for an extension—the midfielder reportedly wanted somewhere around €2.5 million annually, with the club balking—he agreed to a quickfire move to Bournemouth for just €14 million before the Cherries’ medical staff uncovered a knee injury that scuppered the transfer, leading Castrovilli back to Florence and a second surgery on the troublesome knee.

The good news is that the surgery was, according to official sources, a success. Now the number 10 begins rehabilitation. He’ll likely miss several months before being ready for action again, and may take another month of regular playing time to really re-establish himself in the side.

That, of course, assumes that Vincenzo Italiano will welcome him back. Fiorentina is light in the midfield, assuming that Sofyan Amrabat eventually gets his move away, and Castrovilli demonstrated a newfound capacity to operate as a box-to-box player rather than a pure number 10 last season, looking better over the second half of the year than he his 2019 breakout under Giuseppe Iachini. Losing both Amrabat and Castrovilli would mean an engine room comprising new signing (and constant injury risk) Arthur Melo, Rolando Mandragora, and the ever-overlooked Alfred Duncan.

Too, Castrovilli may elect to sit out if he doesn’t feel physically and mentally ready to play, as another knee injury (this is the third on his left one) could severely hamper his future earning power. He’s been with the Viola for 8 years but, after seeing his request for a raise turned down, may feel that any connection with the club has been broken beyond repair. Since his current contract runs out at the end of this upcoming season, he may opt to let it go and sign somewhere on a free. If he’s healthy, there’s clearly interest from all over for him, as evidenced by Bournemouth’s rapid work to sign him.

That’s the worst case scenario, of course. Hopefully he gets through his rehab and rejoins the team by January or so and plays his way back into the XI, forcing Daniele Pradè back to the table with his performances and hammering out a long term extension. We’ve seen stranger things happen time and again, although Joe Barone has shown a propensity for burning bridges with players on the way out.

It’s an awkward situation for anyone, but it’s even worse for a guy who’s really become part of the scene in Florence. He and his wife Rachele are expecting their first child and would doubtless like to avoid relocating, but there are plenty of Fiorentina reasons to want him around. Giancarlo Antognoni gave his blessing to Tanino taking the hallowed number 10 shirt, and he’s the last remaining member of Rocco Commisso’s ballyhooed Tre Bandiere with Federico Chiesa and Dušan Vlahović departing on acrimonious terms.

It’d be a real blow for the last of that triad to leave Florence under a cloud of negativity, marking the breakup of Rocco’s designated core just 3 years after acquiring the team. It’d be a shame to lose Castrovilli, too, as he’s one of the funnest players in the side when he’s feeling it. His quick feet, quick mind, and fearless defending will be a hit with any fan; his flashes of decisiveness in the final third mean that he could be impossible to replace.

It’s hard not to feel bad for Castrovilli, who’s dealt with injuries (including some truly bizarre ones) and poor coaching fits but still given the team everything without ever complaining. If he can reach a detente with the Viola brass for at least this season and get back to his best self on the field, though, there could well be another few chapters of his story in Florence. Let’s hope we get to read them.