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Gilberto “returning” to Fiorentina

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Surprise! He’s still technically a Viola player.

Vasco da Gama v Sao Paulo - Brasileirao Series A 2017
“Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?” “Er, no, not really, mate.”
Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

Fiorentina have are already assured at least one reinforcement in this January window, but it’s not Soualiho Meïté or Ulisses Garcia. No, it’s Brazilian rightback Gilberto, who’s spent the past 12 months with Vasco da Gama. Something of a forgotten man, the rightback’s deal with the Rio de Janeiro outfit expires on 31 December 2017, although the Almirante’s season is already over.

To refresh your memory, Gilberto Moraes Júnior joined Fiorentina for a fee of €2 million from Botafogo back in 2015. Touted as the rightback of the future, he didn’t look quite ready for the Italian Serie A and moved on loan to Hellas Verona in January. Despite a reasonably promising start, he fell out with manager Gigi Delneri and was frozen out of the team within a couple of months. Another loan spell the following season at Latina paid no dividends either, and Corvino arranged to return him to his native soil last winter, just in time for the start of the Brazilian Serie A campaign.

So what’s next? Well, you’re not likely to see Gilberto in a purple shirt this season, as he’s just spent 18 straight months in training and in matches. He’ll almost certainly be on break until this summer, but it’s the next step that remains a complete mystery. His contract with the Viola runs until 2020, but as a Daniele Pradè investment, it’s hard to see Corvino keeping him on the books until then, especially with Vincent Laurini, Bruno Gaspar, Lorenzo Venuti, and Kevin Diks all on the books.

He was solid for Vasco if not world-class, starting 24 matches and notching an assist to go with 6 yellow cards. Still just 24 and only two years removed from appearing with the Brazil U23s—alongside the likes of Ederson, Marquinhos, Rafinha, and Ryder Matos—it’s way too early to call him a bust, although his Fiorentina career is likely over. He’s still got good pace, good technique, and a willingness to bomb forward at any juncture. His defensive instincts remain shaky, but he could easily improve most teams in Brazil, and a move to Portugal or Spain would be reasonable as well.

Perhaps there’s a trigger in his loan deal for Vasco to make the switch permanent, although we haven’t heard anything about it. Even if it doesn’t, we anticipate another season in Brazil for Gilberto, either on loan or for a fee much smaller than the €2 mil that originally brought him to Florence. We won’t miss him, as he seems to be a bit of a jerk and never contributed much to the team, but he’ll move on like so many other promising youngsters for whom it just didn’t quite click.