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How do you solve a problem like Cristian Tello?

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The end of the season is approaching and we still have no clue what’s going to happen with the Spanish speedster.

ACF Fiorentina v Empoli FC - Serie A
Tello ponders whether to make his next move a brilliant one or a really stupid one.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

With the end of the season fast approaching, it’s time to start figuring out how Fiorentina will look next year. While the imminent departures of Paulo Sousa and Gonzalo Rodríguez are the most obvious ones, there’s another first-team feature whose future remains as unpredictable as he is. We’re talking, of course, about Cristian Tello.

The Spanish winger has spent the past 18 months in Florence after parent club Barcelona pulled him away from Porto to give him a shot in Serie A. With his searing pace and La Masia pedigree, he seemed almost certain to become the latest in a growing line of brilliant Viola wingers (Adem Ljajić, Juan Cuadrado, Joaquín, Mohamed Salah). It hasn’t quite worked out that way, though, as his limitations have too often grabbed the headlines rather than his quality.

He’s made 52 appearances now with Fiorentina, scoring 6 goals and adding 11 assists. While this is hardly a meager return, though, it’s his habit of vanishing, often for weeks at a time, that has drawn the supporters’ ire. Gifted with Olympic sprinter’s speed and tremendous technique, his decision-making is dire and his final ball is often lacking. His ability to lose possession on the break while trying to beat his man has caused many a Viola fan to curse at volumes that frighten children and small woodland creatures.

His loan deal expires at the end of the season, and he’s expressed interest in making Florence his permanent home. The stumbling block is the fee that the club would have to pay the Blaugranes. Originally brought in on a loan-to-buy deal for 6 months and a fee of something around €8 million, Corvino renegotiated the deal and managed to decrease the clause to around €5.5 million.

The emergence of teenage sensation Federico Chiesa has muddied the waters, though, as Fiorentina could well opt to give the teenager a starring role next year and let Tello return to Catalunya. It’d be a fitting end for a player who’s been a Sousa favorite, even when it seems like Chiesa is frequently a better option. On the other hand, it’s not easy to find a player of his genuine talent who can occasionally win matches just by himself for just €5.5 million, even if his wages are a tad higher than you’d like. If he leaves, it’s hard to envision the DVs spending enough to obtain a replacement of equal or greater value, what with all the other holes in the squad.

So, experts, what would you do? Would you send him back to Barca? Would you spend the money and make him a part of next year’s squad? Would you buy him and then try to immediately turn around and sell him, as Marseille and several English teams have expressed considerable interest? And, more importantly, which of these options will Corvino take?