We’ve talked a lot about potential arrivals the last few weeks, but the fact of the matter is that Fiorentina still has 28 players on its roster. When asked about the January Mercato, Cesare Prandelli has reiterated that his and the management’s priority is first to thin down the squad. The first casualty seems to be Riccardo Saponara, whose loan move to Spezia will be announced imminently. Patrick Cutrone will soon follow him out the door, and a loan for Tofol Montiel to Serie B seems likely. Those moves would only bring the squad list down to 25, and with Fiorentina pursuing several strikers, wingers, and midfielders, a couple more players would have to be sold for the squad size to truly be trimmed.
On that note, Gianluca Di Marzio has just reported that Torino has offered €16 Million for Christian Kouame, in the form of a loan with an obligation to buy. Purchased from Genoa last January, Kouame had been playing extremely well for Genoa (5 goals in 11 matches) but tore his ACL while on international duty with the Ivory Coast. Because of Covid-19 pausing Serie A for three months, Kouame was able to debut for the Viola last season against Cagliari on July 8th. In total, he has appeared 23 times for Fiorentina, scoring two and adding two assists.
He is highly sought after by la Granata boss Marco Giampaolo, who still has his job despite a horrific start to the campaign, mustering 11 points through 15 matches. To be fair to Giampaolo, Torino has fared better recently as they are unbeaten in three and climbed out of the relegation zone following a 3-0 thrashing of Parma yesterday.
Giampaolo has stuck to two-striker formations in Turin, alternating between his expected 4-3-1-2 and a 3-5-2. While Andrea Belotti has been productive as ever with 9 goals and 5 assists, Giampaolo still hasn’t yet found a consistent second striker to play alongside him. Given the reported outlay for him, Kouame would be coming in to play that role, which sounds like a partnership that could work very well. Of course, that also applies to Dusan Vlahovic and Kouame, and we’ve seen how that has fared so far.
For Fiorentina, Kouame leaving would have pros and cons. On the one hand, selling a well-regarded young player to another Serie A club will always sting, especially when he hasn’t been given a proper chance to prove himself alongside Vlahovic in Prandelli’s new 3-5-2. There are very few strikers in Serie A with Kouame’s athletic ability, and I’d not be surprised if he’s one of the best strikers in Serie A in a couple of seasons. On the other hand, Kouame hasn’t looked very good when he’s been given chances. He missed several point-blank opportunities against Torino and has really struggled for any sight of goal since then, barring a tap-in against Inter. His expected goals rate illustrates his poor finishing: he has 2.7 xG this season despite only scoring against Inter in the league. Additionally, Cesare Prandelli has worked with Kouame now more than any other manager he’s had in Serie A. Yet he’s still used him sparingly, as Kouame’s played just 158 minutes under him in the league. Prandelli is the one working with Kouame in training every day and if he’s not giving him chances and is fine with Kouame leaving, I’m going to trust his judgment.
Given the reported interest of Crystal Palace and Leeds United, if I were Danielé Prade I’d want to see if I could fetch a price closer to €20 Million, but I’d have a tough time turning this bid down. A six-month loan would be preferable, but I can’t reject a bid this large for a player not consistently starting. Let me know what you all think of the move, I can see valid arguments for both sides.
Update: Di Marzio is now reporting that Hellas Verona is also interested in Kouame, and have logged a similar bid. Considering how this would be the most the Gialloblu have ever spent on a transfer, this must be their way of convincing Ivan Juric to stay.
Would you accept Torino’s €16 Million bid for Kouame?
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