The news may be a day old, but the excitement still hasn’t worn off: Fiorentina announced the signing of Claudia Neto yesterday on a two-year contract. The 32-year-old playmaker will join fellow newcomer Tessel Middag to form what should be one of Serie A’s strongest midfields for the upcoming season.
Neto is perhaps the best player Portugal has ever produced; she’s earned 128 caps for her country and scored 18 goals. While she can play higher up the pitch, she’s at her best as a regista, using her vision and passing range to prompt quick attacks when she’s not setting the tempo and establishing her dominance in the middle. She also has a David Pizarro-esque ability to wriggle out of seemingly-disastrous positions with the ball.
While her past season at Wolfsburg wasn’t her best, it’s hard to fault her too much considering that die Wölfinnen won the Bundesliga with one of the deepest squads in the division. Manager Stephan Lerch shuffled her around, even using her at rightback on occasion, which probably didn’t help either. Her class is obvious, though, because she remains central to everything that Portugal do at the international level.
Her ability to break the lines, both by passing and by carrying the ball, make her the most dynamic midfielder Antonio Cincotta’s ever had at his disposal. Especially paired with Middag, it will be fascinating to see how Neto changes Fiorentina’s tactical approach. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait, as the season kicks off in just two weeks.