Since taking over at Fiorentina, Cesare Prandelli has pretty clearly preferred Martín Cáceres and Lorenzo Venuti at right wingback in his 3-5-2. That leaves €11 million man Pol Lirola on the outside looking in just a season and a half after arriving from Sassuolo. It’s not a great surprise, then, that he’s been linked to a move away, with Olympique Marseille reportedly closing in on a loan move for him.
Lirola and OM, negotiations confirmed and progressing to reach an agreement with Fiorentina on loan with buy option.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 8, 2021
Arkadiusz Milik deal is getting complicated for OM as for Atlético Madrid after Napoli price [€15m]. Atléti are now in advanced talks for Moussa Dembele (OL). https://t.co/419rkjXL83
It’s quite the fall from grace for the 23-year-old Spaniard, who was, just two years ago, considered one of the brightest young fullbacks in Serie A. He was superb for the Neroverdi in his final season, notching 2 goals and 6 assists while offering tremendous drive and creativity down the right, but it feels like none of Vincenzo Montella, Giuseppe Iachini, and now Prandelli have figured out how to get the best out of him. He’s only played 497 league minutes this year and pretty clearly seems to be nothing more than a late attacking substitute.
L’OM definitely needs an infusion of youth at rightback, too, as the only options are the aging Japanese duo of Hiroki Sakai (30) and Yuto Nagatomo (34). Lirola should have little trouble earning, at minimum, an equivalent role to his current one in Florence. Too, manager André Villas-Boas should love his quick passing, ball-carrying from deep positions, and sheer pace out wide.
If this goes through, it’ll be another complete failure for embattled DS Daniele Pradè. Spending €11 million on a 21-year-old to fix Fiorentina’s decade-long hole at rightback, only to give up on him after a year and a half and likely not make back the financial outlay, indicates a massive problem in communication between the scouting staff, the front office, and the coaches. There’s no question that Lirola has a tremendous amount of talent, but the inability of any manager to manifest that is emblematic of enormous disconnects throughout the club.
With Cáceres and Venuti on the roster, the Viola probably won't look for a replacement in this transfer window. With the former’s contract expiring at season’s end, though, and the latter best suited to a bench role, it’s fair to say that Pradè (or whoever’s doing his job this summer) will need to address that position yet again in the coming months. If nothing else, it means that Lirola will likely wind up joining the likes of Niccolò Zaniolo and Gianluca Mancini as talented young players who slip through the cracks due to organizational incompetence.