For the second time this year, Tottenham Hotspur scouts were in the stands to watch Riccardo Sottil when Fiorentina hosted Atalanta last week. While the 20-year-old winger didn’t really have the opportunity to impress this time out—he came in for the final 11 minutes with the Viola chasing the game and had all of 2 touches on the ball—he’s been a revelation this year and it makes sense that Spurs would be interested.
On the face of it, Sottil isn’t exactly a hot property. An academy product, he earned his first-team debut last September. He managed 18 minutes across 2 appearances before being shipped to Serie B’s Pescara on loan, where he made 12 appearances, scoring one and assisting two more. This season, he faded in and out of favor under Vincenzo Montella but seems to have leapfrogged Rachid Ghezzal under Giuseppe Iachini; he’s already at 15 appearances (mostly off the bench) and an assist so far.
If that doesn’t sound like the trajectory of a star in the making, well, that’s fair. However, one only needs to look at his secondary statistics to understand what a special talent Sottil really is: a masterful dribbler with fantastic touch and body control paired with outstanding acceleration and good pace. If you’re not convinced, watch some of his tape with the Italy U21s, with whom he’s scored twice in 5 appearances already. If that still doesn’t do it for you, you can also consider the fact that he earns more fouls per 90 minutes than any player in Serie A, which is a really wild statistic.
It’s a bit surprising that the Mauricio Pocchetino Spurs were interested in him and that their polar opposite (Jose Mourinho’s edition) are equally intrigued. However, Sottil’s outstanding qualities in attack are tantalizing, especially if he can get consistently get the final ball right. He looks like the obvious successor to Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa as the next star winger off the Viola academy conveyor belt.
However, we doubt we’ll see a move any time soon for several reasons. The first is that Spurs, having paid nearly of €60 million for Ryan Sessegnon and Steven Bergwijn this season, probably aren’t looking to shell out for another young wide man. Too, Sottil signed a contract extension until 2024 in January which likely doesn’t feature a buyout clause, which has been one of Rocco Commisso’s few express commands. Finally, given their respective ages, he’s likely to start taking over for Franck Ribery next year in the first XI, especially if Fiorentina moves away from the 3-5-2. That’s not a bad place to be for a young player, and it’s almost certainly the best choice for Sottil.