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What's eating Milan Badelj?

More accurately, what's gotten into his suddenly yappy agent?

Yeah, we don't want any part of that agent either, Milan.
Yeah, we don't want any part of that agent either, Milan.
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Let's kick this off by saying that we all freaking love Milan Badelj. He's a calming presence in front of the defense whose unfussy distribution and ability to ping the ball out wide is matched by his assured tackling and reading of the game. His positional discipline allows his fellow midfielders (usually Matías Vecino and Borja Valero) to buzz around farther up the pitch without worrying that they're leaving the defense wide open. After a slow start to his Fiorentina career, he's become one of the first names on Paulo Sousa's team sheet. All in all, he's one of the most important players in the squad, and seemed to have settled in nicely.

This being Fiorentina, of course, nothing can go that smoothly. A thigh injury knocked the Croatian international out for a month or so, but he returned earlier than expected and looked sharp against Spurs last week. Then Dejan Joksimovic (his agent) dropped the bombshell: Badelj would leave Fiorentina during the summer window. The reason that Joksimovic gave was the Fiorentina hadn't ever paid him for all the work he'd done in bringing his client to the club from Hamburger SV. This lack of respect, claims Joksimovic, is a serious insult, and he and Badelj will take their talents elsewhere.

This is just a bizarre story for so many reasons. Firstly, Badelj is signed through 2018, so unless he can convince the club to sell him at a loss, he's not going anywhere. Secondly, it seems a bit fishy that Joksimovic would wait until more than a year after the player switched clubs to get mad about never getting paid. Thirdly, the player himself hasn't said anything, and, on the contrary, seems happy as a clam to be in Florence and playing with international colleague Nikola Kalinić.

There are really two ways to look at this one: the first is that, as Fiorentina entered a period of bad form coinciding with and perhaps spurred by Badelj's absence, the player or his agent saw an opportunity to force a pay raise out of the club, although his €1 million is on the higher end for the Viola. The other way to look at it is that Daniele Pradè managed to sign yet another dude with a crazy agent who wants to force his way out. As usual, the only way to figure out which one's really the case is to sit and wait it out, since the club's representatives are all playing it down as much as possible.