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Report: Vitor Hugo set for Palmeiras move

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The centerback could be in line for a return to his old club as the Viola continue to turn over the roster.

Fiorentina v Atalanta - Italian Cup Semifinal
Fly away home.
Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As Daniele Pradè looks to execute Rocco Commisso’s instruction to get rid of “around 50 players,” it seems that he’s settled on Vitor Hugo as the next man out. According to various sources, the 28-year-old Brazilian is set for a reunion with Palmeiras, whence he joined Fiorentina in 2017 for €8 million. Should this story prove true, it’ll be a blow to Beşiktaş, who were rumored to have secured a deal for the defender earlier this week.

Vitor Hugo Franchescoli de Souza, to give him his full name, was probably informed some time ago by the Viola brass that they intended to sell him, as he’d had time to consider various options. The Black Eagles were the first to table an offer, thought to be around €5.3 million in a loan move with an obligation to buy. The player, though, seemed hesitant about moving to Turkey, allowing Palmeiras to swoop in with a €5.5 million option that he’s much more excited about.

Pantaleo Corvino raised a lot of eyebrows when he signed Vitor Hugo for that €8 million. While he had the size and strength you’d expect in a centerback, he’d only broken through into the Brazilian top flight a year before, leading numerous pundits to question the wisdom of paying a relatively large amount to sign a veteran with just one year of experience in the southern hemisphere’s Serie A.

To give him his due, Vitor Hugo settled in pretty quickly. Not the most technical defender around, his robust style and willingness to kick the ball (or anything else) that got too close to his goal gave him a certain steel otherwise lacking in the back line, but he remained prone to mental lapses—so many mishit clearances that soared into the stratosphere directly above him before descending right back—and had trouble with Stefano Pioli’s man-marking style, which often forced him to track forwards into their own half; watching Atalanta’s Josip Iličić, say, turn him inside out time and again in the Coppa Italia was just painful.

That lack of versatility is what probably doomed his prospects in Florence, as Vincenzo Montella tends to favor a high line, whereas Vitor Hugo is more comfortable sitting in his own box and thumping the ball away. The club will lose money if the figures reported are true, but that’s not really important, seeing as the Della Valles paid that money and not Rocco Commisso. Instead, this frees up another space in defense (Nikola Milenković as a full-time centerback, anyone?) and sends a player who never demonstrated anything but loyalty and hard work to a place he wants to be.