When former Empoli centerback Lorenzo Tonelli made clear his intentions to leave the Tuscan club, Fiorentina and Napoli were his preferred destinations. Alas, the Partenopei were swifter off the mark and snapped up the 26-year-old for €10 million, signing him to a contract until 2020. As he’d been linked to an Azzuri call-up, it seemed like a smart piece of business for the Neapolitans.
However, a knee injury sidelined him through training camp, and by the time he returned in September, Maurizio Sarri had set his defensive rotation without him. Indeed, with 3 excellent central defenders in Kalidou Koulibaly, Raul Albiol, and Nikola Maksimovic, it’d be hard for anyone to break in. But Tonelli’s even dropped behind the likes of Vlad Chiriches, and he hasn’t yet made a Serie A appearance this year.
No surprise, then, that he’s looking for a move away already. Already coveted by Paulo Sousa, he could be a reasonably cheap signing. The initial deal would probably be a loan, with a fee somewhere in the €8 million range, which would allow Napoli to recoup most of their losses.
Especially as Gonzalo’s contract renewal stalls, Tonelli could make a very good long-term replacement: he’s an all-action sort of defender who’s happy to step into the midfield to close down opponents—the sort that complements Davide Astori nicely—although his passing isn’t nearly as cultured as the Viola captain’s. He can also play rightback in a pinch, which would could also make him an instant impact kind of signing. Whether that’s too predictable for Pantaleo Corvino, though, is a whole different discussion.
[Editor’s note: Tonelli’s dad/agent just said that Tonelli Junior is staying put and has no interest in a Fiorentina move. So, uh, disregard everything before this, I guess.]