It’s no secret that Fiorentina desperately needs another winger. I’ve been blabbering about it for close to five months. If Fiorentina is to challenge for Europe this season, a fifth winger who can complement Nico Gonzalez and Dusan Vlahovic is a necessity. With the club in the European spots and its easiest stretch of the season on the horizon, there’s a real chance that Fiorentina is in the top 7 heading into January. In the second half of the season, however, there’s a real chance teams start to figure out Vincenzo Italiano’s style a bit more, and the Viola need to counter by adding a danger man on the right flank.
We all know who the dream is, and that’s Domenico Berardi of Sassuolo. He’s perfect for the role in every way. An Italy international, Berardi is deadly both as a goalscorer and playmaker cutting in from the right with his left foot, which is exactly what Italiano wants. He’s scored six goals and added four assists already in just 11 appearances this season, and would help Fiorentina fans console themselves with Vlahovic’s inevitable departure.
What makes this rumor exciting (or did) was that Berardi’s always seemed willing to come to Florence, and has asked to leave in recent months. For a team that has been worse than the Neroverdi for the last couple of seasons, this is surprising but shows that the Viola still have pull. With rumors that he may be available for as little as €30 million and Rocco Commisso’s deep pockets, there’s rationale behind the excitement that I and many other fans have had over this move happening.
Unfortunately, it seems a long shot. Both Gianluca Di Marzio and Niccolo Cecciarini reported today that Fiorentina is unwilling to bid more than €15 million for Berardi, with Di Marzio saying that the final offer has been submitted to Sassuolo with an answer expected in the next few days.
La Fiorentina non intende arrivare a 20 milioni per Berardi, il Sassuolo lo valuta almeno 30. Ikoné l’alternativa. Trattativa molto avanzata con il Lille— Niccolò Ceccarini (@NickCecca) November 22, 2021
There’s no obvious explanation for why the Viola aren’t willing to pay for Berardi. The best I can think of is that at his age, 27, there’s little potential resell value. But adding Berardi would give the Viola a top-3 front line in Calcio and a much better chance of qualifying for Europe. Isn’t that worth the investment? However, Berardi is not Fiorentina’s sole objective. Di Marzio reports that the Viola have an agreement in place for Lille’s Jonathon Ikonè, and are waiting for Sassuolo’s response before closing the deal. No price has been reported, but I’d expect something in the €15-20 million range.
Who is Ikone? A 23-year-old right winger, he’s a product of the Paris Saint-Germain Academy. After a loan to Montepellier for the 2017-2018 season, he signed for Lille for €5 million and took off, scoring three goals and adding ten assists in his debut season. In total, he’s scored 16 goals and added 25 assists in 144 appearances. While Ikonè was one of the top prospects in French footy a couple of seasons ago, his star has slightly faded recently, as he’s only mustered one goal and no assists in fourteen appearances this season. It could be that a change of scenery is what’s necessary to get him back to his best, which is a terrifying player.
Ikonè’s playstyle is centered around his dribbling. As Fiorentina doesn’t dribble all that much, Ikonè would be relied upon to take attention of Gonzalez and Vlahović and set up goals for them. He can play on either wing or as a #10, but Italiano would want him on the right and cutting in on his favored left foot. While he’s not at the level of Berardi, he still would represent a massive upgrade over Josè Callejon or Riccardo Sottil and is more exciting than someone like Riccardo Orsolini. Finally, he also has resell value that Berardi does not, which seems to be the likeliest reason why Joe Barone and co. are pushing for him over Mimmo. Which one the Viola choose remains to be seen, but as of now, Ikonè has the advantage.