Although we’d been hearing rumors for about a week, we’d opted to ignore them. After all, a team that features the talents of Jordan Veretout, Bryan Dabo, Marco Benassi, Christian Nørgaard, and Sebastian Cristoforo hardly needs another hard-working, all-action central midfielder. But now we’re hearing that Napoli outcast Alberto Grassi is firmly in the Fiorentina sights, and we are very, very confused.
New Partenopei mister Carlo Ancelotti seems to be of accord with Grassi’s agent Mario Giufreddi that it’s in the player’s best interests to move away from the San Potato, whether on loan or permanently, as the midfield there is simply too crowded even after the departure of Jorginho to Chelsea. The market for the former U21 international has been as brisk as you might expect, with Torino, Bologna, SPAL, and Wolfsburg all registering interest. However, Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis has specifically called on Fiorentina to make an offer, and various outlets are reporting that the Viola are sure enough ready to make an attempt for him.
This is crazy. Even if Cristoforo is sold, there are simply too many central midfielders in Florence and too few minutes to justify bringing in Grassi, especially for the €15 million Napoli have requested, along with a buy-back option. If the Viola were in the Europa League as common sense and UEFA rules dictate they should be, you could maybe make a flimsy case for buying a talented, albeit redundant, player. But as things stand, it wouldn’t make any sense.
Again, we like Grassi. Still only 23, he’s already a good player and looks like he could improve quite a bit. He’s got adequate pace to operate anywhere in the midfield, but his composure on the ball and passing range make him a perfect fit right in the middle, where he can control play going both directions, either by moving the ball himself or winning it back. He was the lynchpin for SPAL last year and as big a reason as anyone that they’re still in Serie A.
He’s certainly ready for bigger and better things than Ferrara can offer him now, and it’s not hard to imagine him wearing the Italy shirt at some point in the near future. But a team like Fiorentina has so, so many other needs all over the pitch that throwing more money at a player whose type is well-represented on the roster would be a crushing mistake; we’re definitely hoping that this one is all Corvino’s smoke and mirrors and has nothing to do with his actual intentions.