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OFFICIAL: Pulgar is a Fiorentina player, chooses number 7

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Last time a Chilean midfielder took number 7 under Montella, things worked out okay.

Colombia v Chile: Quarterfinal - Copa America Brazil 2019
Quality throatpiece.
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Fiorentina have added another fascinating piece to the midfield puzzle with the capture of former Bologna man Erick Pulgar. The 25-year-old Chilean arrived in Florence yesterday for his medical and signed a contract this morning in time to join the team in training.

Per Gianluca di Marzio, the 22-time capped Chilean international will cost €10 million plus 10% of future sales; it’s an absolute steal, considering that the Felsinei were said to have wanted at least €2 million more for one of their top performers of last year. His contract will run for 5 years and could approach €2 million annually if he achieves certain incentives, according to Fiorentina.it.

We think he’s worth it, as he’s a talented and versatile performer who’ll contribute in every phase. While he’s primarily known as a non-stop runner and ball-winner in the mold of countryman Arturo Vidal, Pulgar also packs a similarly punishing shot from distance and a real threat from set pieces; remember that he scored an Olimpico against the Viola two years ago, just moments after Jordan Veretout got one of his own. The Chilean isn’t a great dribbler and is more competent than creative as a passer, but his energy and wallop should open some doors in attack.

Paired with Milan Badelj in the middle, he’ll create a formidable screen in front of the defense. Many pundits have opined that this could push Vincenzo Montella to use a 4-2-3-1 rather than a 4-3-3, but it seems more likely to me that Pulgar will fill a box-to-box role with Badelj sitting as the regista. With any of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Marco Benassi, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Szymon Żurkowski available to round out the engine room, Montella has a lot of flexibility.

Pulgar has chosen the 7 shirt, which is another unsubtle hint that Valentin Eysseric is on the outs. While it’s odd that a defensive midfielder would wear a winger’s number, we seem to recall another Chilean doing just that half a decade ago, and he turned out just fine.