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Fiorentina could move for Berardi if Pjaca doesn’t arrive

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The Sassuolo winger’s development has stalled and he could desperately use a change of scenery.

US Sassuolo v UC Sampdoria - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

As Juventus dicker about the Marko Pjaca deal—they want €30 million and a buyback clause, which Corvino has quite rightly denied—it’s starting to look like Fiorentina may need to make alternate plans as they search for an attacking complement to Federico Chiesa. It seems fitting, then, that they’re reportedly considering a move for the player he replaced as Italy’s next great hope: Domenico Berardi.

After breaking through under Eusebio di Francesco at Sassuolo in Serie B back in 2012—scoring 11 goals as an 18-year-old to lead a historic promotion—he announced himself to Serie A with with 21 across the next two seasons. He quickly became the darling of Azzuri fans, who saw in him the best wide forward Italy had produced in years. A permanent move to Sassuolo soon followed, but Juventus left themselves a buyback clause in the deal.

If he’d progressed as we’d all expected, the Bianconeri surely would have triggered the clause. But 2015 marked the start of a long and difficult couple of seasons, marred by a succession of knee injuries which robbed him of his explosion and confidence. By the time he was fully healthy at the start of this past season, so many things were different. Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi had passed him in the public consciousness, and di Francesco moves onto AS Roma. Stuck in an unfamiliar formation with an uninspired team, he only managed 4 league goals.

It sure looks like his time is up at his current location. Even though he’s still just 23, he could be available for a low fee as a reclamation project. He looks like the type of investment who could pay dividends if he settles into a system better designed to take advantage of his talents he could quickly blossom into a world-class winger. After a full year of staying healthy and regaining his confidence, he should be primed for a bounce back.

After all, he’s still got the same set of skills he did before the injuries. Perhaps the burst is a bit less than in years past, but it’s not like he’s bereft of pace these days. More importantly, the technique to shoot and dribble are still present. At the very least, his willingness to keep his width and sheer skill on the ball should stretch opponents out and leave Fede with more space to cook than he had with the likes of Gil Dias or Cyril Théréau. But if Berardi recaptures even 80% of his old form, he could create an absurdly mobile, versatile, opportunistic, and generally exciting attack with Chiesa and Simeone; if he can be had for cheap, there’s no reason not to give him a shot.

no reason, of course, except the current price tag; Sassuolo want €30 million for perhaps their most valuable player, which almost certainly prices the Viola out. Roma are currently the front runners for his services, with AC Milan also expressing interest (which, yea whatever). This is almost certainly pure fabrication, as Corvino will probably announce the signing of some teenage academy player from the Fijian second division to start on the wing any day now.