You’re probably sick of hearing the VN staff pound the table for a new left wingback, but we’re not going to stop. Cristiano Biraghi is the only left-footed option, and we saw during Pol Lirola’s disastrous stint there that putting someone on the “wrong” side simply won’t work in this system. That’s what makes Fiorentina’s reported interest in Luca Pellegrini so exciting.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Cagliari and looked fantastic, tallying 5 assists in his 24 Serie A appearances. He’s very quick, but he’s also excellent at timing his runs and hits a very nice cross indeed. He’s as happy at fullback and can even fill in on the left of a back three or as a mezzala, but wingback seems to be his best spot due to his pace, stamina, dribbling, and delivery. He’s a good tackler and holds up well defensively too, but going forward is where he really shines. He’s not just a sprint-to-the-byline-and-center-it player, either, but an intelligent passer who generally keeps things safe and simple.
If that sounds a bit like Biraghi to you, well, you’re right. Pellegrini grew up in the AS Roma academy before Juventus swooped in with €22 million to sign him last year before immediately loaning him to the Isolani for the second consecutive season. It may seem like a red flag, given the lack of leftbacks on the Juve roster, but it seems to be more a matter of the player wanting regular game time and the club agreeing; he was left out of the squad for the season opener.
Or perhaps it’s just the club not wanting to irritate Mino Raiola, who wields an extraordinary amount of influence in Turin. Dealing with him can be awfully rough on clubs who aren’t ready to meet his demands (financial and otherwise), so Viola DS Danielè Prade will have to be at his sharpest, especially since Genoa are close to closing a deal for him, according to Alfredo Pedullà. Pellegrini and Raiola, however, seem more interested in a move to Tuscany if possible, as Fiorentina is definitely a higher-profile team with a lot of potential in the immediate future.
The future is really what we’re interested in here. Biraghi is about as steady a veteran presence as you’re likely to find anywhere in the Serie A mid-table, but he’s 28 and, despite the rumors about a contract extension, doesn’t seem particularly interested in life on the Arno. Pellegrini would do well to spend a season or two as his understudy before taking the reins himself.
Fiorentina would likely push for a loan deal with a fee due at season’s end. That’s the catch, though, as Juve won’t want to lose money on a young player they recently signed for big money. There’ll likely be a buy-back or a sell-on clause, but even that may be worth it. Pellegrini looks like a future Italy international and would likely be, at worst, a very good backup. The best case scenario is that he pushes past Biraghi and establishes himself as the starter within the next year or two. Either way, this seems like a smart move for all parties if the finances can be wrangled. We really hope to see Pellegrini in Florence within the next couple of weeks, and hopefully for long after that.