Hard on the heels of the completion of a move for Kevin-Prince Boateng, Fiorentina have scooped up another Sassuolo player after a full month of back and forth. This time, it’s 21-year-old Spanish fullback Pol Lirola in a season-long loan deal that Gianluca di Marzio claims has a mandatory €12 million, with an additional €4 million in bonuses possible; the Neroverdi will also get 10% of any future profits from the player’s sale.
Lirola is very much a modern fullback: he’s a fantastic dribbler and can pick a pass as well as anyone, has the requisite pace and crossing abilities, and contributes more than just a work rate in the final third. His stats from last year—2 goals and 7 assists in 35 Serie A appearances—attest to the threat he carries going forward (For some reason nobody’s posted a YouTube compilation with his highlights from this past year, so this one’s a bit older; he’s gotten even better.)
His defense remains a work in progress , as he’s still prone to getting caught too high up the pitch at times and sometimes loses track of his man. However, he’s got plenty of time to improve that aspect of his game and, given his age and raw talent (he’s fresh off winning the U21 Euros with Spain, albeit mostly as a backup), we’re willing to back him.
While he is a former Juventus player, having joined from boyhood club Espanyol in 2015. Since he was only 17 at the time (and already playing with the U19s), we’re willing to forgive him, especially since he never made a competitive appearance for the Bianconeri senior side. Instead, after a couple of years with the Primavera there, he moved over to Sassuolo on loan in 2016 and made his stay permanent in 2018.
Having risen to prominence under the possession-based approach of Neroverdi boss Roberto de Zerbi, he should fit right into Vincenzo Montella’s XI. With Lirola and Lorenzo Venuti at rightback and Cristiano Biraghi, David Hancko, and Aleksa Terzić on the left, you can start to see the shape of the Viola backline for next year: lots of pace, technical ability, and outstanding crossing ability. Perhaps even more exciting for Fiorentina fans is the fact that for the first time since buying Lorenzo de Silvestri in 2009, the Gigliati have purchased a starting-caliber rightback.