If you’ve watched Fiorentina this year (or the year before that, or the year before that, or...), you’ve probably realized how badly the Viola need both creativity and a goal threat in the final third. That usually means finding at least two different players, but every once in a while you can find someone who does both. The question for DS Daniele Pradè is determining whether or not Cagliari star João Pedro can.
The 28-year-old Brazilian has a price tag of €15 million (plus €2 million in bonus payments), according to La Nazione (as reported by ViolaNews); that €17 million works out to a million for every goal he’s scored for the Isolani this year, which is a heck of a number even if it is boosted by 4 penalties. João Pedro isn’t just a finisher, though, as he’s got 4 assists and offers tremendous versatility and intelligence. Able to play up front or as a 10, he’s at his best floating off a main striker and darting into space on the break, he’s also got an excellent understanding of where to be in the area. While he’s not an aerial presence, he checks pretty much every other box you’d want in a forward.
The hitch, though, is that €17 million is a lot of money for a guy who’s never hit double figures in Serie A in the four seasons before this one; it’s not that he’s shooting more, either, as he takes fewer shots per 90 minutes than Riccardo Sottil and 66 other players in the top flight. His career previous to his arrival in Sardinia was rather anonymous, with failed stints at Palermo and Santos. The arrival of Walter Zenga’s 3-5-2 and the move away from Rolando Maran’s 4-3-1-2 hasn’t slowed him down any, and he’s forged an excellent relationship with Viola loanee Giovanni Simeone this year.
In Florence, he could fill any number of roles. To bring out his best in the current team, using him as a 10 behind Dušan Vlahović with Federico Chiesa and Franck Ribery would probably be the best fit, but Fiorentina’s need for a 3-man midfield means that João Pedro would probably play as a lone striker more often than not, which is a role he’s rarely played.
So, to sum up: João Pedro is 28, hasn’t played as a lone striker before, and has only produced one prolific goal-scoring season that may well not be sustainable. However, his movement, technique, and creativity make him an enticing target, particularly at a cost that’s pretty low relative to his quality (especially if there’s some way to work Cholito’s deal into a discount for the Brazilian). Too, he’s represented by the same agency that reps Fiorentina legend Mario Alberto Santana, so there’s some history there. In summation, João Pedro could be a useful piece in the Viola attack, but probably isn’t the out-and-out solution.