Marco Sportiello has enjoyed a good year at Fiorentina, rejuvenating a career that had stalled at Atalanta. There was never any doubt that Sporty was a class player—after all, he’d been considered the heir apparent to Gianluigi Buffon with the Azzurri for awhile—but his relationship with Gian Piero Gasperini led to his exile to the bench in favor of Etrit Berisha. When he arrived in Florence last January, it was as the clear the successor to Ciprian Tătăruşanu, as per Pantaleo Corvino’s brief to make the club younger and more Italian.
Handed the reins this year, Sportiello has impressed. After a strong opening to the season, he endured a sticky start to 2018 before righting the ship during the Viola’s unbeaten streak; an absolute masterclass against AS Roma stands out as the highlight, but he’s been tremendous over the past two months.
There’s no doubt that Fiorentina will pay la Dea €7 million to make the move permanent, as it’s looking more and more like another Corvino steal. As the rebuilding project gathers steam in Florence, the 25-year-old is clearly one of the centerpieces.
However, Sportiello’s agent Giuseppe Risso went on Si Gonfia la Rete, a radio show on channel Radio CRC, earlier today and dropped a bit of a bombshell. When asked by host Raffaele Auriemma if Napoli were considering a move for the custodian in case Pepe Reina leaves this summer, the rep revealed that the Partenopei had been keeping tabs on the player for year. Risso also mentioned that he’s never represented a player who’s turned down Napoli, although that seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, as none of his clients play in Naples right now.
Losing Sportiello would be a serious blow to Fiorentina, even with Bartłomiej Drągowski waiting in the wings and agitating for a chance; after all, the Polish U20 starlet, while oozing with promise, may not be even close to ready for a full season as the number one for a team competing on three fronts. Losing a goalkeeper with 118 appearances in the top flight at the age of 25 would also sting, especially if he goes to, if not a direct rival, then at least a league opponent.
If the Neapolitans try to butt in ahead of Fiorentina and get Atalanta to cancel the loan, Corvino will have to be at his best to head them off. The only positive from the whole situation is that, regardless of outcome, Luigi Sepe is unlikely to suit up in Serie A for a bit longer. Because that dude is a jerk.