As you may have heard, Federico Bernardeschi has turned down a contract extension with Fiorentina, meaning that he’ll be a free agent in 2018. Not surprisingly, the Viola are now listening to transfer offers for him, as it’d really suck to lose your best young player for nothing when you could get something for him. Inter Milan and Juventus are the most popularly mooted destinations, but now something has happened that will surely shake up the whole affair. Barcelona has gotten involved.
Or at least, that’s what the headlines would have you believe. It’s entirely true that representatives from the two clubs met this week in Spain. And they both candidly acknowledge that Berna was a topic of discussion. However, the explicit (and again, both sides indicate the central) theme of the meeting was Cristian Tello.
Tello spent the past year and a half in Florence on loan from the Catalan outfit. While he produced some magical moments due to his technique and searing pace, he was more often a source of Iličić-level frustration for supporters, what with his consistently terrible decision-making in the final third. Even after bargaining down the fee to make his stay permanent, Corvino apparently felt that €7.5 million was a bit steep for the winger, although met in person with his Blaugrana counterpart Ariedo Braida about picking the speedster back up at a reduced fee, either on loan or as an outright purchase.
But two clubs talking about a discount move for a middling winger isn’t the sort of headline that gets the clicks. If you can somehow bring Fede into the matter, though, all of a sudden everyone’s interested. But it’s unlikely he’d make the switch for a number of reasons. He prefers to operate on the right wing or through the center; the latter option doesn’t exist in Barca’s 4-3-3, and he’d be stuck behind some guy named, like, Leroy Messi or something in the former. With guys like Arda Turan and Paco Alcácer stuck on the bench, Berna would barely play, which would hurt his chances to feature for the Azzuri. And the last Italian to play for Barcelona was Gianluca Zambrotta; the Catalans don’t tend to look to the peninsula.
So let’s go ahead and stop pretending this meeting was about Federico Bernardeschi, and start thinking about how Stefano Pioli would bring out the best in Cristian Tello if he got the chance. Because that’s the kind of fiction we’re okay with.