Following several days of building reports (first reported by Violanews, here), Fiorentina seems close to their first signing of the winter Mercato: 22-year-old Venezia midfielder Youssef Maleh. Multiple Serie A clubs were put on alert last week when Maleh refused a contract extension from the Lagunari for his current deal, expiring in June. Venezia issued a statement that Maleh would not appear for the club again, even if he was not sold in January. Fiorentina appears to have won the race for him against clubs such as Sassuolo and Sampdoria, and Maleh having the same agent as Christian Kouame and Gaetano Castrovilli helped speed negotiations along. The exact figures of the deal aren’t known yet, but rumors have placed the transfer fee at around €1 million. It’s unclear if Maleh would join the first-team immediately, stay with Venezia the rest of the season, or be loaned out to another club entirely. Given that older reports had Maleh going back on loan to Venezia or to Serie B for the remainder of the year, that seems the most likely option.
Born near Bologna in the town of Castel San Pietro Terme, Maleh is a product of the Cesena youth system but debuted as a professional in 2018 while on loan at Ravenna in Serie C. He then moved to Venezia, where he first spent another year on loan with Ravenna. Last season Maleh broke into the Venezia first team, playing more than 2000 minutes in Serie B, adding a goal and two assists. In ten matches this season, Maleh has reached the same total of goal contributions. Maleh’s play earned him a call-up to the Italy U-21 setup last September, where he has played alongside Patrick Cutrone and Riccardo Sottil. He started alongside both in his debut, a 3-0 defeat against Sweden. He’s now been capped 5 times and scored this banger in his most recent appearance, also against Sweden. Left-footed, Maleh has spent most of his time in central midfield for Venezia, although he’s more than capable of playing on the left side as a midfielder or winger. He would seem to be an excellent fit in Giacomo Bonaventura’s role on the left side of Cesare Prandelli’s 3-man midfield, acting as a shuttler next to Sofyan Amrabat, tasked with both complimenting attacking moves and tracking back defensively.
Of course, this signing is more for next season, and I’m excited to take a closer look at him wherever he’s playing these next few months and find out more about his fit with the Viola. Fiorentina adding Italian youth internationals at a reasonable price is never a bad thing, and adding Maleh is a strong start to the upcoming Mercato.