The Viola squad is thin everywhere except rightback, where Fiorentina has a glut of unconvincing options. Vincent Laurini was sporadically fine last year. Bruno Gaspar had a few nice moments but was hopeless as a defender. Lorenzo Venuti and Kevin Diks had uneven loan spells at Benevento and Feyenoord, respectively. Nikola Milenković, while okay out wide, is clearly a centerback who’s talented enough to push to fullback and would be better utilized through the middle. With so many options, you always knew that Corvino would shuffle some of them along, and it turns out Gaspar is the first to go.
Corvino bought Benfica academy graduate last year for €4 million from Vitória Guimarães, but the fit never seemed right for either party. Gaspar has only been a defender for two years—he grew up as a winger and was moved backwards recently—and his defensive instincts looked well short of the mark required in Serie A during the preseason camp in Moena. Sure enough, he was woeful on the back foot, although his energy on the overlap did provide some excitement. Still, though, it became increasingly apparent throughout the season that he wasn’t long for Florence as he plummeted past Milenković and Laurini on the depth chart.
A return to Portugal may be just what he needs. His habit of spending most of his time very high up the pitch may work better there than it has in Italy, and he should at least earn himself a chance at some minutes backing up Cristiano Piccini (yes, the talented rightback that Fiorentina let go for just €1.5 million back in 2015).
Os Leões have forked over €4.5 million for Gaspar, giving the Viola a €500,000 profit on a player who was certainly out of Stefano Pioli’s plans for the upcoming season. It’s a good bit of business between clubs who’ve historically had a very strong relationship. Whether it’s a bit of charity from Rui Costa directed at his old club or a chance to get a top player wanted by domestic rivals, Sporting have shelled out far more than the Viola might have hoped, bringing the disappointing Bruno Gaspar adventure in Florence to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties.