It’s been more than a year since Inter Milan bought up two-thirds of Fiorentina’s midfield with swoops for Borja Valero and Matías Vecino, but it seems that the Nerazzurri aren’t done in their attempts to ransack the Viola engine room, as we’ve been hearing a steadily increasing chorus these past two weeks that they’re seriously considering a bid for Marco Benassi in January.
In contrast to the moves for Valero and Vecino, this would be something of a homecoming for Fiorentina’s leading scorer. He captained the Inter Primavera to a scudetto before getting unceremoniously tossed out and subsequently snapped up by Torino. Despite a couple of promising seasons there, he floundered under the watch of Siniša Mihajlović and was sold to the Viola for €10 million, turning the Granata a €5 million profit.
While it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the midfielder since moving to Tuscany, things have been trending in the right direction this year. His 5 goals lead the club and are good for 10th in Serie A; he’s also the highest scoring midfielder in the league this term. Those performances have caught the eye of Italy boss Roberto Mancini, who gave the 24-year-old his first call up recently, although he dropped Benassi in favor of younger options without handing him a debut.
As a player, Benassi remains a cipher. His goalscoring is obviously a huge plus, but most of those goals come from intelligent movement in the box more than from long range shots. His role under Stefano Pioli is strange, too: he tends to stay very wide on the right in defense before driving straight at goal to become a second striker in attack. Partly as a result of this odd brief, he often seems a passenger when he’s not scoring, which isn’t exactly desirable in a midfielder. It’s a weird trajectory for a guy who was an excellent passer as a kid, as he now seems incapable of using the ball well for long stretches.
He’d probably be a depth piece for Inter, a backup to Vecino or maybe even João Mário. He’d also help the club meet its roster requirements for youth players, and he’s not cup-tied, which would let Luciano Spalletti use him in Europe. The figure we’ve heard bandied around is €25 million, which would be awfully tough for a struggling Fiorentina to turn down, seeing as how that money could bring significant reinforcements to a team that desperately needs them. Too, it could help convince management to turn down offers for Federico Chiesa, Nikola Milenković, or any of the other highly-rated young stars in the Gigliati XI. It’d be sad to see Benassi leave, but it might be in everyone’s best interest if the money is good enough.