We’ve known for quite some time that Fiorentina need another centerback. While Germán Pezzella had a strong debut year in Florence, Vitor Hugo started to look like a quality starter after Christmas, and Nikola Milenković was one of Serie A’s breakout stars of the season and earned himself a trip to the World Cup with Serbia, they’re the only central defenders on the roster, aside from teenagers Petko Hristov and David Hancko. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to add Federico Ceccherini, which the Viola have just done.
The 26-year-old former youth international had spent almost his entire career with hometown club Livorno before moving to Crotone on a €900,000 deal at the start of last season (his only other stop was a loan move to Tuscan side Pistoiese back in 2011). He played all but 180 minutes of the season for the Squali, scoring one and assisting another in a campaign that ultimately resulted in relegation.
While bringing aboard a player who was a key cog in a defense that leaked in 66 goals last term, we’re cautiously optimistic about the move. First, Ceccherini’s not a bad player; he relishes the hurly-burly of defense, specializing in sliding challenges and physical play rather than standing off and reading the game. He’s a threat on set pieces due to his strength and leaping ability, which obviously translates well to the defensive side of things as well. He’s certainly not a burner, but has enough pace to play in a high line. He perfectly fits the mold for what Stefano Pioli has in his other three centerbacks, which means there won’t be too much adjustment when Ceccherini plays.
That’s the other part of the equation. While he’s a veteran of over 104 Serie A matches, Federico should be firmly behind those three returning players in the pecking order. That means he should be eased into action, making spot starts against Empoli or SPAL, and could also be utilized for midweek fixtures in the Coppa Italia or (assuming that AC Milan remains banned from continental competition) the Europa League. For €3 million, it’s a neat piece of business that addresses one of the Viola’s most obvious weaknesses, and Corvino deserves plenty of praise for engineering this one. Now, though, he needs to turn his attention to finding wingers, midfielders, and maybe a rightback and a goalkeeper. Clearly this Fiorentina mercato is far from over.