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Roberto Inglese doesn’t seem like a great fit for Fiorentina

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A look back at strikers who’ve done well under Montella shows that the target man hasn’t really succeeded in this system.

Parma Calcio v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

We’ve heard a lot of speculation about Fiorentina making a move for Roberto Inglese, and we get it. Inglese is 27 years old and in his prime. He scored 9 goals in 25 appearances for Parma last year; considering their difficulties in attack, you’d think that he could probably get at least 15 in a more forward-thinking team. Napoli are probably ready to cash in on him as they raise funds for a swoop for AS Roma’s Kostas Manolas. And, with Giovanni Simeone’s Viola future uncertain, Fiorentina need a striker.

The only reason to doubt (other than the fact that Inglese-to-Florence is a rumor you’ve read on the internet) is that Fiorentina’s coach is Vincenzo Montella, and Montella has historically succeeded with a very specific type of striker. For his first stint at Catania, he favored Gonzalo Bergessio over Maxi López. At Sampdoria, he rolled with Luis Muriel and Éder before swapping out the latter for Fabio Quagliarella. At AC Milan, he preferred Carlos Bacca and Gianluca Lapadula (without other real options at his disposal, perhaps we should discount this one, but still). At Sevilla, it was Muriel (again) and Wissam Ben Yedder. Last time he was in Florence, of course, Giuseppe Rossi was his main man.

What most of these forwards have in common—with the exception of Muriel and maybe Ben Yedder—is that they are, first and foremost, poachers. That’s not a huge surprise given Montella’s philosophy, which is based on passing the ball around, drawing the opposition into bad defensive positions, and then having a cold-blooded hit man to finish chances. There isn’t a lot of crossing, and while there are some balls through the channels, the real action comes with clever work through the middle.

With so much technical quality elsewhere on the pitch, the striker doesn’t need to be a brilliant passer. He doesn’t need to be powerful in the air or gifted at holding up play. He doesn’t even really need to offer a threat in behind—there’s usually one or two guys whose explicit brief is to do that. No, a Montella striker’s job is to occupy the centerbacks with movement in the buildup and then put the ball in the back of the net when he’s in the box. Rather than a pace merchant or a traditional number 9, a Montella striker is a shark lurking in the water, waiting for the slightest space to surge into action and strike.

Since Giovanni Simeone doesn’t possess that profile at this stage of his career, he’s a likely candidate to move on just 2 years after Fiorentina paid €17 million for him as a 21-year-old, and just a season removed from notching 14 goals without any penalties to inflate his tally. Cholito is a lung-busting, channel-running, harrying presence up top, which is a useful skill set, but his finishing was simply atrocious this year; that’s why he doesn’t fit Montella’s scheme.

Back to Roberto Inglese. While he’s a very different sort of player than Simeone, he’s an equally poor fit. Big and strong, he’s more of a threat in the air and from the spot than anything else: 18 of his 43 goals over the past 5 seasons have been either headers or penalties. His closest comparison to a striker who’s played under Montella is probably Mario Gómez. While that’s not exactly fair to anyone involved, Marione’s a good indicator of how a big, rugged striker who lacks outstanding technical ability can struggle under Cousin Vinnie.

On the other hand, fiorentina.it reports that Joe Barone has met with Napoli about a move, so maybe there’s something to it. However, with the Partenopei allegedly holding out for a whopping €25 million, it was probably a short talk. While there’s a chance that Inglese could be a makeweight in a deal for Jordan Veretout, swapping the French midfield dynamo for a 27-year-old striker who couldn’t break double digits in goals this year is absolutely nuts. As ever, only time will tell, but based on current information, this one’s gone as far as it can, especially with Lazio supposedly interested as well.