Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Everyone, stay calm. Stay calm, everyone. EVERYONE STAY CALM. According to Gianluca di Marzio, Borja Valero is ready to return to Fiorentina. This is not a drill. I repeat, il Sindaco is ready to return to the city that loves him like no other, and we could get the official announcement in the next couple of days. Breathe deeply. It’s finally, finally, finally happening.
Everybody knows that Valero is a Viola legend. Even after Pantaleo Corvino forced him out in 2017 for thirty pieces of silver, nobody ever doubted that the former West Bromwich Albion man’s heart remained in Firenze. After all, he’s got more appearances for the Gigliati than any Spanish player ever, and ranks fifth all time for a non-Italian. For those keeping track at home, he’s 33rd on the overall leaderboard.
But those 212 competitive games aren’t what make this such an emotional piece of news. Rather, it’s the sense that Rocco Commisso is righting his predecessors’ wrongs and bringing back a guy who never wanted to leave, a guy who represented everything good and fun and pure about the last time Fiorentina weren’t terrible. I mean, the tattoo.
Now 35 and clearly in the twilight of his career, it sounds like Borja’s signing a one-year contract before retiring straight into some sort of management position with the Viola. Even if he’s not the tireless creative force he used to be in the middle, he may well be the best natural passer of any midfielder on the roster right now, and his skill on the pitch will likely be surpassed by his influence off it. In short, there does not exist a more perfect free signing.
As we’ve discussed, the Viola engine room is suddenly mightily crowded, even if Borja’s mostly here for a victory lap. As a result, it sounds like Marco Benassi is indeed heading for Hellas Verona on loan, as previously reported; should the deal go through, it’s a net positive for all involved.
Too, this means that Valero can take his swan song with his beloved Fiorentina before moving into the office. He’d be a fantastic addition, either as a coach or an executive; while the former could see him link up with Alberto Aquilani again, the latter may play to his strengths even more, as his wife Rocío and brother Matías work for player agency FootFeel (most in the news recently for moving Achraf Hakimi to Inter), which would give him some pretty important contacts in the mercato.
For now, though, we’ll try to keep from losing our minds with joy. Because Borja’s coming back for at least another year, and that is truly something worth celebrating.