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Report: Fiorentina planning swoop for Heerenveen’s Zeneli

Oh my goodness, a full international left winger could be on the horizon.

SC Heerenveen v PSV Eindhoven - Eredivisie
Honestly, those Heerenveen shirts are class.
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

All year long, Fiorentina have been desperate for someone, anyone, to step up on the left wing, but nobody has. Gil Dias still needs a fair amount of seasoning. Valentin Eysseric has been either injured or uneven. Cyril Théréau is 35 years old and also Cyril Théréau. Riccardo Saponara, the closest fit, is a trequartista who rarely ventures out wide, instead staying central and forcing poor Cristiano Biraghi to cover the entire wing. Given that Pioli has always emphasized width in attack, it seems clear that he needs another winger.

That’s why the news from TuttoMercatoWeb that Arber Zeneli is one of Pantalo Corvino’s top targets has us all aflutter. The 23-year-old was born in Sweden, but represents Kosovo at the international level and has 3 caps. Although Napoli are also supposedly in for him as well, the uncertainty surrounding the Partenopei project could push him towards Florence.

Is this good news? You’re darn right it is. Zeneli can play on the right or through the middle but seems happiest on the left, where he can cut inside onto his stronger right foot (although he’s not bad with his left) to shoot. And yeah, he can hit them, too, usually from outside the box, although he’s comfortable running at the posts as well. He’s very direct, with good pace and agility. His decision-making sometimes lets him down, but he’s still young and is only going to improve. But man, look at some of these goals.

Despite missing nearly 2 months this winter with an ankle injury, he’s started 22 Eredivisie games for de Superfriezen, scoring 4 goals and notching 8 assists; for those keeping track at home, that’s 0.55 goals created per match. He’s been at Heerenveen since joining from boyhood club Elfsborg in 2015 for €1.95 million. His contract runs out next summer, so the Dutch outfit could look to cash in before losing him for nothing. A fee somewhere between €5-7 million feels about right.

With a wealth of top-flight and international experience for his age, he’d be a certain starter on the left and would, with Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone, comprise the sort of pacy, ruthless attack that gives opposing defenses the heebie-jeebies. He’d have to pick a new shirt number, though, as his preference for 13 won’t work out with the Viola. Of course, with both the 7 and 11 shirts likely to be vacant soon (there’s no way that Diego Falcinelli sticks around), we can think of some good alternatives.