Days after sending Rafik Zekhnini back to Twente, Fiorentina continue to shuffle out promising young players on loan. This time, it’s 20-year-old Czech striker Martin Graiciar, who’ll return to Czechia on a year-long loan to domestic giants Sparta Praha. If he impresses enough during the upcoming season, Rudí can buy him outright, although the Viola will maintain a buyback clause; neither figure has been disclosed yet.
It’s a good move for everyone involved. Graiciar didn’t get a lot of time on the pitch, making just 2 appearances for the Primavera as he bounced between the youth setup and the senior bench. At Sparta, he’ll be back in his home country and will have a chance to work with coaches who may have a better handle on how to use him. Too, his versatility—he’s played on the wing previously—means he could get a lot more minutes. That may well be his path to a consistent role with the first team, actually, since Sparta currently boasts the talents of Benjamin Tetteh, Vaclav Kadlec, Libor Kozak, and superstar 16-year-old Adam Hlozek.
Rudí get one of the nation’s best young prospects on a cheap deal and a chance to evaluate whether or not he fits in the team without any commitment. If Tetteh or Hlozek, both highly-touted young strikers, move on this summer, or either of the veterans decided to leave, Graiciar would probably wind up being a major piece for them next year.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, get to watch the development a once-promising talent who’d fallen off the map after failing to muscle past Dušan Vlahović on the depth chart. Keep in mind that Graiciar, still just 20, has already moved past the U20s at international level and is working with the U21s. He impressed Arsene Wenger while playing with Arsenal at youth level. Heck, he made UEFA.com’s list of 50 young players to watch last year. Despite a down year, he’s got a bright future, and letting him return to Czechia for one of the country’s biggest clubs to mature before buying him back isn’t a bad idea at all.
Graiciar, for his part, posted a lovely statement on Instagram bidding farewell to Fiorentina and Florence:
“I’ve arrived at the end of an experience of ups and downs, where I wanted to give so much to a city and a fanbase that deserve so much more, but this hasn’t happened and I’m so sorry...However now I can only look to the future, and the time has come for me to set new goals, new challenges. I infinitely thank, however, a city like Florence that has made me grow at levels as both a human and a footballer, where I leave my heart and my friends who’ve helped me so much and I will always carry them with me. Long live Florence.”
That’s about as lovely and heartfelt a message as you’re going to find from a 20-year-old who barely played for a year in a foreign city. Not sure how you can read that and hope for any possible outcome but a fantastic loan spell that forces Sparta to buy him, sees him excel for another year, and leads to his triumphant return to Florence. Good luck, Martin Graiciar.