There’s no more obvious hole on the Fiorentina roster than the wings. Cesare Prandelli returned to Fiorentina wanting to play a 4-2-3-1, but has since changed his tune due to a lack of depth and quality out wide. Franck Ribery is more suited to play centrally at his old age and is oft-injured, while Jose Callejon is also aging and has yet to show the skills which made him one of Serie A’s most dangerous wingers with Napoli. The only other natural winger on the roster is Valentin Eyserric, who had been frozen out from the team until Prandelli played him out of desperation. So, it’s pretty clear that Fiorentina needs at least one winger in January to give Prandelli the option to play a 4-2-3-1, or any formation with wingers for that matter, even if the 3-5-2 is working for the time being. Luckily, Fiorentina has an in-house solution: the on-loan Riccardo Sottil. A report out of Florence says that Daniele Pradé wants to terminate Sottil’s loan with Cagliari early for a fee of 3 million euros, which would be a great way to start the winter mercato,
For those of you not familiar with Sottil, he’s a 21-year-old winger signed in 2016 from Torino’s under-17s. Son of Ascoli manager Andrea Sottil, his game is built on pure pace and dribbling ability. Watching him last season, he’d often get the ball and just start barreling forward, which he was pretty good at. Sottil even led Serie A in fouls drawn per 90 minutes (4.56). However, there just wasn’t much of an end product, as he notched just one assist and no goals in 609 minutes last season. Clearly, there was a lot of room left for development. Add in the fact that a pure winger like Sottil was an extremely awkward fit in Beppe’s 3-5-2, and it made sense to loan him for more playing time. (This is before Federico Chiesa was sold, which made the move a little more confusing).
At Cagliari, Sottil has been by all accounts decent. He’s scored three goals and two assists in 1019 minutes, a far better return than last season. He’s played on both the left and right wings for Ezio Di Francesco. Sottil is dribbling, shooting, and passing the ball less than he did for Fiorentina last season, but is still putting up better numbers, suggesting that he is improving in the mental side of his game and adjusting to being part of the team rather than just being a very good dribbler.
While he is far from the finished product, Sottil has proven himself to be a Serie-A quality winger these last few months, something which Fiorentina and Cesare Prandelli are in desperate need of. Due to Fiorentina’s current lack of ambition (just no relegation please), there should be plenty of time to experiment with him and help his development. Bringing him back into the fold may require some coaxing as he’s playing consistently in Sardinia, but I figure seeing Eysseric on the field for the Viola will make him pretty confident at logging some heavy minutes. If Fiorentina is going to play the brand of Calcio Cesare envisioned upon taking over, Sottil will be a key part of that, and it’d be great for Pradé to right one of his wrongs by bringing him back early.