One of our longest-running jokes around here is that Fiorentina never have a decent rightback. The last one who was serviceable was Lorenzo de Silvestri, and he was run out of town four years ago. Before and after that, though, it’s a long list of backups—Vincent Laurini, Facundo Roncaglia, Kevin Diks, and Gilberto come to mind—or centerbacks shunted out wide—think Nenad Tomović, Nikola Milenković, and Tomáš Ujfaluši. It’s gotten to the point that we joke about backup goalkeepers maybe playing there. And now Pantaleo Corvino is selling one of the two dudes on the roster who’s actually a rightback, according to Gianluca di Marzio.
Okay, so Bruno Gaspar isn’t much of a fullback. He was actually a winger until a couple of years ago, and it shows in his play. He’s clever going forward, but is much more comfortable on a side that dominates possession, allowing him to lurk very high up the pitch in search of an overlap. And frankly, his defending is just. Plain. Bad. We’ve written about it elsewhere, but his struggles against the likes of Parma in the preseason made us a bit queasy, and his inability to win the job over poor old Nenad nearly sent us into a panic. As it turned out, our fears were well founded: he simply can’t mark a man to save his life.
Enter Benfica. The Águias are already quite familiar with Gaspar, as he grew up in their academy, although they cut ties with him before he ever made an appearance with the senior side. Rui Vitória is set to lose Barcelona loanee Douglas, leaving him perilously thin on the flanks. Given the close ties between Benfica and Fiorentina (their DS is Rui Costa), a move to everyone’s benefit shouldn’t require a whole lot of work. A loan move could make sense, giving the player another year to learn how to play defense in a familiar place; a fee of €3.5 million, or nearly how much he cost from Vitória Guimarães last year, would probably leave everyone involved quite pleased.