24-year-old Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello has joined Fiorentina. After arriving in Florence yesterday and passing his physical, the Viola and la Dea agreed to a loan until the end of next year with a fee between €5.5 million and €8 million to make the move permanent. For a player who got a call to Coverciano to train with the Azzuri last year, it’s a heck of a deal.
A goalkeeper who’s made 84 Serie A appearances at 24 years of age is probably pretty special, and Sportiello fits the bill. An imposing 6’4 (192 cm), he’s got impressive reflexes and isn’t afraid to come off his line, either to claim a cross or to shut down an onrushing attacker. Although Gian Piero Gasperini has inexplicably benched him in favor of Lazio loanee Etrit Berisha (who, in fairness, has been excellent for Atalanta and Albania), this remains a player with a very bright future.
Sportiello has spoken of his desire to play, which is a bit puzzling considering the presence of Viola and Romania number one Ciprian Tatarusanu. It’s hard to say if he’s an upgrade on Tata, but at worst he’ll be one of the best backups in the league. Regardless of how much he plays this season, I wouldn’t be shocked if Corvino sells Tata to England at the end of the year, though, leaving Sportiello as the starter and a full season to evaluate him.
The knock-on effect for Viola goalkeepers is considerable, too. Bartlomiej Dragowski’s injury leaves only the wildly inconsistent Luca Lezzerini available as a backup and would have necessitated calling up super-prospect Giacomo Satalino to sit on the bench. Instead, Satalino will be allowed to go prove himself on loan for half a year, and Dragowski will get the time to heal up and then take a year on loan to prove his worth at a lower-level Serie A team.
It’s a very Corvino move: a young, promising player scooped up with little warning. But when the price and the talent converge like this, it’d be foolish not to pounce.