Since Fiorentina unceremoniously booted Manuel Pasqual, Khouma Babacar is the team’s longest-tenured player, having made his senior debut all the way back in 2009. He’s been pretty productive, too, given his limited role: he’s got 34 goals in 110 appearances and scores once every 154 minutes on average. This past year was far and away his best in purple, as he struck 14 goals in 31 appearances—and was even better in Serie A, scoring 10 in 22, 8 of which came in just 13 starts. At 24 years old, he should be entering his prime.
The Fiorentina brass, however, don’t seem to rate him nearly as highly as the fans do. He’s allegedly been on the chopping block for years, as a raft of clubs in Italy and England have expressed interest in a strong, fast, and skillful forward with a proven track record of scoring goals. But Babacar loves Florence and has pretty much refused to leave, much to the exasperation of his agent Patrick Bastianelli, whose press conferences are always shot through with the frustration of a man whose client makes his job much more difficult.
With Nikola Kalinić possibly on the outs as well, many assumed that Babacar would lead the Viola line next year. But, for what feels like the umpteenth summer in a row, the Senegalese striker is at the center of the rumor mill again. This time, it’s Udinese who are interested in bringing him in to replace Duvan Zapata; there’s also speculation that the Friuli outfit could throw Swiss international rightback Silvan Widmer into the deal as well.
It’s not just the Bianconeri, though; Serie A debutants SPAL are hoping to make him their centerpiece this year, and the ever-nebulous and poorly defined “several English clubs” are sniffing around too. And having heard reports that Fiorentina are already looking at picking up another young striker or two, it would be understandable if Baba finally decided he’s had enough and wants to play somewhere he’ll feel respected.