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Bosman brainstorming: 5 central midfielders Fiorentina could sign

Even in what looks like a stacked engine room, there’s always room for another piston.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Diego Souto/ Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

As we continue rolling through our list of possible Bosman targets for Fiorentina, it’s probably a good time to throw in a reminder that these aren’t predictions; they’re just a look at possible targets. Nowhere in the team, perhaps, is this more apparent than in central midfield, where Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone have spent a lot of time and money reshaping the squad in January.

With Gaetano Castrovilli and record signing Sofyan Amrabat likely to occupy two of three spots, Erick Pulgar and Alfred Duncan will scrap for the third. Kevin Agudelo also looks like an exciting young player who’ll need to play, whether that’s with the Viola or on loan elsewhere. Marco Benassi is also still on the roster but looks like the odd man out and could move on, but we said that last summer too. That may leave little space for the star-crossed promising Szymon Żurkowski, much less anyone from the Primavera.

Next season’s engine room is full of disparate and complementary talents who should allow Giuseppe Iachini (or anyone else, for that matter) to mix and and match to suit any tactical requirement. The only possible shortfall, so far as I can tell, is that there isn’t another pure holding midfielder on the roster besides Amrabat, but both Duncan and Pulgar can fill in there if necessary. Any signings for central midfield, Bosman or otherwise, will likely be a depth signing to shore up that deep role. Bearing that and the rules (there has to be some reasonable chance of him actually signing, so no David Silva, for example).

Lucas Biglia

At 34 years old, the Argentine regista is on the way out at AC Milan but says he wants to keep playing for another few years while prioritizing his family. That indicates a desire to stay in Italy or return to Argentina; when you add in the links to Fiorentina last year, it seems pretty obvious that he could fill in. He could be a useful veteran presence who can mentor some of the younger guys. He could be very useful indeed provided that he’s 1) comfortable playing very little and 2) willing to slash his wages substantially. Otherwise, there’s no way that he’d fit in.

Pros: experience, role

Cons: injury history

Likelihood that he’s a target: 10%

Santi Cazorla

Perhaps the most heartwarming story of the past season was the 35-year-old Cazorla’s improbable return to top form two years after suffering such a severe ankle injury that he nearly lost a foot. While he’s sought a return to Arsenal, the Gunners seem uninterested in bringing him back, so he may try a new experience. Able to play in a variety of roles, he wouldn’t offer much defensively but his superb passing and knack for wiggling away from pressure more than make up for it. The real trick would be convincing him that the Viola constitute an interesting project to close his career. He’s obviously still playing at a high level and may want to go somewhere that still assures him of regular minutes, which might be tough to come by in Florence. If he’s comfortable transitioning to more of a coaching and mentoring role while still taking the pitch occasionally, it might be possible to convince him. He’s the type of high-profile signing who Rocco Commisso seems to put lots of stock in, so it may be worth kicking the tires and at least asking him if he’s interested.

Pros: experience, versatility, leadership, salary

Cons: language, interest level

Likelihood that he’s a target: 10%

Miguel Veloso

He’s been linked to Fiorentina so many times in the past that it’s sort of silly to imagine it now, but he’s out of contract at Hellas Verona. At 33, he doesn’t have the legs he used to—for a guy nicknamed Fast Mike, he was never especially quick—but he’s got close to a decade of experience in Italy and 56 caps for Portugal. Having spent the past few years at Hellas and Genoa, he knows how to grind out midfield results with the best of them and would be a fantastic bench option to relieve Amrabat at times. He doesn’t make that much money, either, so he wouldn’t explode the wage structure. The only real negatives are that he may still want a starting role—which he won’t find in Florence—and that his agent is Jorge Mendes.

Pros: language, role, salary

Cons: agent

Likelihood that he’s a target: 50%

Valentín Burgoa

In a change of pace, Burgoa isn’t a hoary veteran poised to retire or a journeyman looking for work; he’s an exciting 19-year-old who may be ready to try his luck in Europe. He certainly wouldn’t be a first team option right away; he needs a lot of work on the defensive side of things and is probably a few years away from being ready, but he’s the sort of low-risk investment who could wind up being a very good option down the road and might be worth the work. With a powerful shot from distance, an admirable work rate, and a knack for wriggling with the ball through creases that most players don’t even see, he’s got the tools to have a long career. A year or two on loan would serve him well, but this could be a great chance to add an excellent young midfielder without paying for him.

Pros: price, potential, skill

Cons: language, current level

Likelihood that he’s a target: 20%

Ahmad Benali

The 28-year-old Libya captain is probably leaving Crotone, with Parma and Pescara registering interest. Given his international commitments, he probably wouldn’t want to accept a bench role, which is the best he could hope for at Fiorentina. With his pace and work rate, he’d be a good option carrying the ball forward on the break, and he’s got experience working under Iachini from their time together at Palermo.

Pros: tactical fit, familiarity with system

Cons: desire for playing time

Likelihood that he’s a target: 15%