It’s been a heck of a ride for Patrick Cutrone over the past year and a half. After boyhood club AC Milan sold him to Wolverhampton Wanderers to turn a quick profit, he fizzled out in England after just half a season and returned to Italy with Fiorentina on loan (more on that later). After some initial struggles to fit in, he looked like one of the best players on the team after the restart, averaging a goal or assist every 84 minutes over the final 7 matches of the season. This year, though, he’s been stuck behind Dušan Vlahović in the pecking order again, possibly due to the terms of his loan.
That loan stipulates that, should he make a certain number of appearances, Fiorentina will have to pay the €16 million to make his move permanent. That’s led to whispers that the club has kept him on the bench to avoid triggering that clause rather than because he hasn’t performed as well as Vlahović or Christian Kouamé. Given Fiorentina’s struggles to score this season—no goals in Serie A for over a month—it’s no wonder his exclusion has given rise to some discussion.
The 22-year-old’s agent Giovanni Branchini confirmed to TMW Radio (via Football Italia) that he’d agreed to remove that mandatory purchase clause from his client’s contract. The hope is clearly that, without the threat of a transfer fee hanging over them, the Fiorentina brass will give Cutrone what he considers a fair chance at playing some more minutes.
Branchini made it quite clear that he felt the club’s focus was avoiding that clause: “Fiorentina told me that the various coaches have not been given any indications on how to use Cutrone, but I didn’t believe them and the numbers suggest it’s true. Cutrone has played, on average, 16 minutes per game.”
“It seems strange to me that a team struggling to score goals can’t find room for Cutrone,” he continued. “The player is feeling downbeat, because you can’t pretend not to understand what’s going on.” It’s that last part that really twists the knife, as Patrick has never been anything but an excellent team player during his time in Florence. He’s always the first to celebrate other players’ goals, even if he has to sprint from the bench; for example, he welcomed Kouamé into the lineup despite the fact that they were competing for the same spot. He seems like a lovely man and it’s a shame that this situation has him feeling down.
The termination of this clause could free him to play a lot more, which could be helpful. While he’s not the most technical or the paciest striker, his intelligent and constant movement, both to get in behind and to find space in the area, offers a dimension otherwise absent from a stodgy attack. On the other hand, this could also mean that Fiorentina are planning to cut short his loan with an eye to bringing in another center forward in January.
Either way, it’s another embarrassing situation for embattled DS Daniele Pradè, who’s come under fire of late for an awkwardly constructed squad that’s cost a lot of owner Rocco Commisso’s money to wind up in 17th place. If Cutrone ends up playing more minutes and looks productive, the fans and the media will rightfully pillory him for limiting the striker’s minutes. If he leaves early, it’ll be a pretty obvious admission that the move never should’ve happened to start with.
All we can do at this point is hope that the restructured contract allows Cutrone and Fiorentina to get as much as possible from each other. For a goal-starved attack, this seems it could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship, which would be a tremendous improvement on the mutually destructive one that’s been in place previously.