In a bit of news that’s just so perfectly on brand for Fiorentina this year, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Fiorentina will not be buying Empoli’s sensational midfielder Hamed Junior Traorè despite completing a transfer for him in January; the Viola, perhaps concerned by rumors of a heart issue, requested extra medical tests. Once those were completed (and turned up nothing of concern, according to Empoli president Fabrizio Corsi) Pantaleo Corvino and company simply failed to deposit the player’s contract with the league, thus nullifying the deal.
It’s a real blow to Fiorentina’s squad for next season, as Traorè was expected to slot right into the starting lineup from day one. His powerful running from midfield is his biggest attraction, but he also possesses a dangerous shot from distance, an eye for the killer pass, and a very solid defensive contribution, all of which were on display against Inter Milan on Sunday.
He’s generally regarded as one of the best teenage midfield prospects in the world, which made the €12 million fee the Viola paid for him seem a pittance. We were all quite pleased, too, that the brass had opted to leave him with Empoli on loan for the rest of the year, making sure he wouldn’t get stuck on the bench behind, uh, Marco Benassi or Gerson or Edimilson Fernandes (all of whom he blows out of the water, statistically speaking). Perhaps that’s why teams such as Juventus are rumored to be interested.
Fans were dreaming of a new-look midfield for Vincenzo Montella next year with Traorè as the centerpiece, supported by incoming players like Szymon Żurkowski and Gaetano Castrovilli. Instead, Fiorentina’s engine room for next year will be perhaps the area most desperately in need of reinforcements, which is really saying something in this team that’s largely bereft of talent.
We can at least say that Traorè joins a list of excellent players who, despite signing deals, have ended up elsewhere. Dimitar Berbatov, Dennis Praet, and Sergej Milinković-Savić make for fairly good company, in terms of quality, and have all gone onto solid careers after spurning the Viola. Indeed, this fiasco probably means that Traorè is now assured of becoming a genuine star and enjoying a lengthy spell as one of the world’s best. We won’t begrudge him that at all, as he seems like a really lovely young man. We do, however, reserve the right to get pretty angry at the Fiorentina management for letting him slip away.