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Report: Fiorentina closing in on Juan Jesus

The Brazilian defender would be fine depth, but it’s hard to see him cracking the first XI.

AS Roma v Istanbul Basaksehir F.K.: Group J - UEFA Europa League Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Fiorentina are reportedly looking for a new defender this January, with names like Walter Kannemann of Grêmio and Kevin Bonifazi of Torino heavily linked. However, it seems that AS Roma’s Juan Jesus has jumped to the front of the queue, with the Corriere Fiorentina (via reporting that the Giallorossi have turned down the Tuscans’ offer of €3 million and are holding out for nearly triple that, requesting €8 million; a loan with an option to buy seems the likeliest formula.

The 28-year-old Brazilian has fallen far from the standout youngster he was at Inter Milan, where he quickly cracked the starting lineup and was one of the loan bright spots in defense. Just 20 years old, he earned 4 senior caps for Brazil and looked like the long-term solution at the back next to David Luiz. Unfortunately, he’s rather stagnated over the past few years, falling out of favor at Inter and joining Roma for €10 million in 2017.

While he was a regular for the Lupi over the past 3 seasons, making at least 20 league appearances in each, he’s fallen out of the rotation this year, making just 2 starts and 4 total appearances as Paulo Fonseca has preferred newcomers Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini.

If Juje is looking for a starting spot, though, he may be disappointed in Florence. Germán Pezzella and Nikola Milenković are untouchable, and Martín Cáceres probably is as well. Unless one of those three is dropping out of the rotation for unexpected reasons, Juan Jesus would likely remain a bench option.

That’s not to say he’s a bad player. A fantastic athlete, he’s got great pace and covers ground well while having the strength to hold up to more robust forwards as well. His greatest weakness is a penchant for occasionally switching off to catastrophic effect; think of Vitor Hugo but a bit quicker on his feet and less imposing in the air: a solid and serviceable player, but one unlikely to unseat any of the current back three.

The most interesting aspect of this rumor is what it says about the current backups, Federico Ceccherini and Luca Ranieri. If a fourth defender is so high on Daniele Pradè’s wish list, it can only mean that the former Livorno man and the former Primavera star are surplus to requirements. We’ve heard whispers that Ranieri is a wanted man for a number of Serie B clubs, and Cecche’s been linked to a move away since this summer, but it’s still a bit surprising that club brass doesn't view either as an acceptable stopgap solution should any of the starters miss time.