Taking a break from the carousel of striker rumors (it’s three new names a day at this rate), let’s bring attention to another one of Fiorentina’s pressing needs: winger. There are only three wingers on the roster, two of which are 33 and 37 years of age, and the other being Valentin Eyserric. We’ve discussed the possibility of Riccardo Sottil returning from his loan spell at Cagliari, but even if he were to come back, another winger should be pursued for insurance. Compared to strikers, there have been far fewer rumors of Daniele Pradé’s winger ambitions. That’s why it was exciting to hear FC Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali announce to the press that an unknown Italian club had offered €12 million for his star winger Dennis Man. Becali said he is holding out for €14 million, and that the potential buyer would decide by January 10th whether to purchase or not. What makes this exciting, you might ask? That unknown team was immediately reported by the Romanian press to be none other than Fiorentina.
Born in the western Romanian town of Vladimirescu, Man spent most of his youth career at nearby Atletico Arad. In 2013, he moved to UTA Arad, and made his professional debut in the Romanian Liga II in 2015. He scored nine goals and added four assists in his first season. The next campaign he scored five goals in his first five matches, earning a reported €375 thousand move to Begali’s club. Man has consistently been one of the best players on the team since the 2017-2018 season, scoring 19 goals and adding nine assists in 64 Liga I appearances his first three seasons. He has since become a fully-fledged Romanian international, having been capped six times and starting Romania’s most recent international match against Northern Ireland. However, this most recent campaign is where he’s taken his game to the next level, and quite frankly shown he’s too good for the Romanian league. Between Liga I and Europa League qualifiers, Man has 15 goals and seven assists in 16 appearances, good enough for a goal contribution every 62 minutes. So, it’s safe to say he’s ready for a new challenge.
As a player, Man is left-footed and plays on the right-wing. He can use his right foot, but his left is heavily favored and how he does his damage. He has the pace to burn a wingback down the line, but often cuts inside and finds a pass or shot. Watching Man play for FCSB, he routinely picks up the ball around the halfway line, dribbles around a couple of defenders, and slots a pass to a teammate hanging out around the edge of the box. Man’s dribbling ability is Kai Havertz esque, as his height (6 feet or 1.83 meters) makes him look elegant as he glides past defenders. That same height makes him dangerous with his head, and did I mention he can pass too? If it wasn’t for his pace, Man has the toolkit to be a #10. All this may sound like Man is the perfect winger, and for the Romanian league... I think the stats speak for themselves. Of course, in Serie A expectations would have to be lowered, as defenders are on an entirely different level compared to the Liga I. Because Man is more of a playmaker than a turn-and-burn winger (although he can do both), I also expect he’d face a steeper learning curve than someone like Riccardo Sottil, so if Fiorentina were to sign him I won’t have any real expectations until the 2021-2022 season. However, given Fiorentina’s need and his pricetag, Man would be logging heavy minutes immediately.
Incredible goal scored by Steaua FCSB's Dennis Man. After being clearly fouled, be jumps instantly and scores with a cool lob! pic.twitter.com/EfjJR9ftTH— Emanuel Roşu (@Emishor) September 17, 2017
How would Man fit in at Fiorentina? Other than the fact he may have to arm-wrestle Igor for the right to wear #98, Man seems like the right signing at the right price the Viola. Franck Ribery is currently the only player on this team who can consistently get past defenders 1 on 1. That’s Man’s bread and butter. As for the right-wing position, Jose Callejon is the only one on the roster, and we all know how he’s played so far. Even if Callejon suddenly rebounds to his Napili form, Fiorentina need bodies there desperately. In addition, Man’s habit to cut inside lends itself to having a winger on the left who can stretch the field, making a potential Sottil-Man winger duo even more enticing. And unlike the striker position, Fiorentina doesn’t need to worry about experience. They’ve got plenty in Ribery and Callejon, and a young player with potential is exactly what the team needs. As for the price, €14 million is a lot to spend on any player for Fiorentina, much less one not proven in a top league. However, I’ll trust the judgments of one Adrian Mutu, who’s worked with Man extensively with the Romania U-21 national team and is said to be very high on him. Cesare Prandelli is also said to be on board and pushing for the signing, which sells me completely. Man would be a great signing for Fiorentina. While I like Christian Kouame and hope he becomes a great player, if Man coming in means Kouame has to leave, Fiorentina will be better for it.
Bonus: What to call Man’s current club is a legal (and journalistic) nightmare, here’s a great explanation of why that is.