It’s pretty clear that Rocco Commisso has directed his brain trust to build for the future; between pushing academy players into the first team and buying talented youngsters, Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone have done an admirable job of setting Fiorentina up for success down the road. That, along with the club’s clear push to ramp up American engagement—the Times Square meet up between Rocco and Vincenzo Montella, the International Champions Cup appearance, the new English language Twitter account for the club—means that the alleged Viola interest in Gianluca Busio isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds, although it’s still pretty out there.
For those of you who don’t follow MLS or the US youth international setup, Busio is a 17-year-old attacking midfielder who currently plays for Sporting Kansas City (yes, it’s a terrible name for a club). He holds Italian citizenship through his Brescia-born father, which makes a move quite palatable for teams from the boot, which probably explains the interest from Inter Milan and Genoa. The Gigliati, though, are his top suitor in the nation, already making an offer last summer, although SKC boss Peter Vermes rejected it out of hand for being way too low.
While plenty of folks deride the quality of play in MLS, you have to take note when a 17-year-old makes 31 appearances across all competitions, even if it’s for the second-worst team in the conference. He even chipped in with 4 goals and 2 assists, giving him a scoring involvement every 238 minutes, which isn’t bad for a midfielder. He’s got a quick first step and a good touch, and he excels at pushing forward and leading the press. Right now, though, his primary attribute is that he’s very good at popping up in the penalty area with late runs.
The rumor we’ve heard from the reasonably-reliable Alfredo Pedullà insists that Fiorentina have offered $3 million (€2.71 million) for him, while Vermes is adamant in holding out for $10 million (€9 million). With all due respect to Busio, that’s a whole lot for a kid who’s played one season in MLS and hasn’t exactly blown the doors off. He tends to disappear for long stretches in possession and needs to get a lot stronger, and his passing leaves some to be desired at this stage as well. While it’s easy to project him improving as he matures, he’s not the sort of surefire future star that fetches that kind of sum at that age.
Busio would probably be fine at Primavera level for a year and could spend a season or two in Serie C or Serie B as he fills out and develops; the skill level isn’t the concern here. What is a concern is that price tag, which is way too much. For comparison’s sake, Dušan Vlahović cost under €2 million out of the highly-regarded Partizan Belgrade setup, and Alban Lafont—one of the best goalkeeping prospects in the world—set the Viola back just €8 million, which would still be a million less than Busio’s asking price. While the move would likely raise Fiorentina’s profile a bit in the US, it seems like those funds could be better allocated to that effect. We hear that this Christian Pulisic kid is pretty good, for example.