Fiorentina has a crisis on the wing. With Nicolás González and Riccardo Sottil injured and Christian Kouamé at AFCON, the only options are Jonathan Ikoné and Josip Brekalo, who’s already telegraphed his departure to Dinamo Zagreb. The side already needed investment in the position and now it’s becoming desperate, so Daniele Pradè is looking to Hellas Verona forward Cyril Ngonge.
The 23-year-old Belgian has been linked to Aston Villa, with a deal worth up to €12 million, with the sides supposedly having reached a verbal agreement. Now, however, the Viola have swooped in at the last minute, hoping that the player’s preference to stay in Serie A could tip the balance in their favor.
As Schira reports, Pradè has made contact with his counterparts Sean Sogliano in Verona. The Hellas DS has openly acknowledged that Ngonge is for sale for financial reasons; the Mastini are locked into a fierce relegation battle and have to be ready for the drop to Serie B if they can’t hold onto 17th place.
Ngonge is certainly an ascendant player, notching 5 goals and 2 assists this term while operating in a variety of roles. He can lead the line, play off another striker, or cut in from the right wing. That versatility is doubtless one of his most appealing characteristics. The other, of course, is that he’s absolutely rapid both with and without the ball, offering the sort of threat in behind that Fiorentina doesn’t currently have.
He is, however, quite similar to Nicolás González in some ways: prefers his left, wildly quick feet, speedy, and likes cutting in from the right. There’s some risk of overlap between them unless the plan is to keep Nico on the left, where he never seems quite as comfortable. Too, Ngonge isn’t great in possession, as the ball often sticks to him rather than pinging around. But if he can rein in that tendency and operate as a threat in behind, he could be a perfect balance for this Viola attack.
€15 million for a player who’s had a solid year in Serie A isn’t a bad deal at all, although there’s some room for concern that Ngonge is represented by the same agency as Aster Vranckx, whose late wage demands reportedly scuppered a move to Fiorentina this summer. To his credit, though, Ngonge has always handled himself professionally, as you might expect from a guy who’s dad was a long-time professional and fringe international.
Sogliano has said that he wants any deal done quickly, so expect a conclusion to this little story in the coming days. Given the shortfall that Fiorentina’s dealing with on the wing, reinforcements—whether that’s Ngonge or someone else—can’t come soon enough, especially if they mean that we’re done watching Brekalo putter around out there.