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OFFICIAL: Sottil loaned to Cagliari

We really hope this isn’t the last we see of our beautiful blue-eyed boy.

ACF Fiorentina v US Sassuolo - Serie A
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Well, you can’t win them all. Fresh off the announcement of Giacomo Ventura’s arrival and the largely-substantiated rumor that Borja Valero is coming home, Fiorentina went ahead and loaned Riccardo Sottil to Cagliari for the year, much as we’ve been expecting and fearing for the past month. The deal includes an option for the Isolani to buy him outright at season’s end.

We’ll start with the positives. Or rather, the positive. Because there’s only one here, and it’s that Ricky’s going to get all the playing time he needs in Sardinia. New boss Eusebio di Francesco is moving away from the 4-3-1-2 formation that’s defined the Rossoblù for years in favor of his beloved 4-3-3; while João Pedro is a lock for the left wing, there wasn’t anyone capable of stepping on the other side. Sottil should quickly make the job his, as his only real competition right now is Diego Farías (who the club loaned out to Lecce last year), Kiril Despedov (spent last season in Austria with Sturm Graz), and maybe Daniele Ragatzu. Ricky’s in a good spot.

We’re also backing him to play a lot of minutes because he’s a simply marvelous player. While the complaints about his end product have some validity—he’s yet to score a senior goal and has just 1 assist—he’s been plenty prolific at youth levels for both club and country, indicating that his decision making is still catching up to his talent. That talent is sublime, too: he drew more fouls than any player in Serie A per 90 minutes last year and ranked third in successful dribble percentage, which highlights how dynamic he is on the ball. With a bit of experience, he could turn into one of Italy’s finest.

Unfortunately, there’s no room for a winger in Giuseppe Iachini’s 3-5-2 setup, which left Ricky on the bench for most of the season in favor of the clunkier Rachid Ghezzal. Nobody’s said how much it will cost Cagliari to buy him outright next summer, but we’d guess it’s in the €12 million range. There’ve been whispers that Danile Pradè has inserted a buyback clause in there as well, but those usually just raise fans’ hopes without ever having any tangible effect. It seems like Sottil’s Viola career may well be over.

And that’s a shame. Not only is he one of the most dynamic players on the peninsula with the ball at his feet, but he’s just 21, has been in the academy since 2016, formed part of the finest Primavera tridente in memory (along with Federico Chiesa and the recently-departed Gabriele Gori), and is an outrageously handsome man. He’s everything you want in a young Viola player.

Hopefully it’ll work out and he’ll be back in a year or two, ready to chip in with goals and assists to go with his dribbling. If he doesn’t return, though, he’s a very good bet to join the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Gianluca Mancini, Pierluigi Gollini, and Jacopo Petriccione as excellent players who slipped through the club’s fingers. And that would be a shame.

So best of luck, Ricky. We know this is in your best interests, even if it isn’t in ours.