Fiorentina have finally announced the signing of 18-year-old Bulgarian centerback Petko Hristov from Slavia Sofia to a 5-year contract for a fee that hasn’t been announced, but probably isn’t more than a couple hundred thousand euros. The player has joined the squad at Moena for training, which should give him a chance to get acquainted with his new teammates, particularly the younger ones with whom he’ll probably be playing this season.
Hristov is a big, strong strong lad, but he’s also a pretty dang good player. He broke into Slavia Sofia’s starting lineup last season, making 24 appearances (21 starts) in which he accrued a goal, an assist, 3 yellow cards, and a red card. He also earned a spot with the Bulgarian U19s at the Euros this past July, although he didn’t feature in any matches.
There’s a lot to like about Hristov. He’s much more athletic than you’d expect for a player his size and has shown surprising fleetness of foot. He’s also fairly composed on the ball and likes a long pass out to the winger. Defensively, he’s a very good tackler and reads the game really well for a player his age. His greatest asset, though, is his aerial ability: he routinely bosses players a decade or more his senior at set pieces and in open play, using a combination of strength, leaping, and anticipation. He’s still prone to the odd lapse in concentration and can struggle against really quick opponents, but he’s very promising for an 18-year-old.
That said, he’s already registered with the Primavera rather than with the senior side. He should step in to the lineup right away to replace Julian Illanes, who’s a candidate to take some time away from the club on loan. Hristov should build a strong partnership with Riccardo Baroni at the back, but he’s got the potential to play with the first team within the next two or three years.
He’s also got a twin brother Andrea, who’s still with Slavia Sofia; just to be sure, though, Francesco Guidi should probably keep an eye on the planes and trains between Florence and Sofia, though. Just to be sure.