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Report: Gattuso wants Lirola to stay

There’s a good chance we haven’t actually seen the last of the Catalan fullback, which is quite a turn of events.

Olympique de Marseille v FC Lorient - Ligue 1 Uber Eats Photo by Johnny Fidelin/Icon Sport via Getty Images

Pol Lirola’s Fiorentina career had all but concluded until Monday, when Marseille failed to pay €12 million to make his move permanent. L’OM had asked for a discount on him but Viola DS Daniele Pradè refused, and the deadline for the French outfit to make Lirola’s loan permanent passed. While that could be an awkward situation, what with a player who seemed well outside the club’s plans being send back, that looks to be far from the case.

The word is that new boss Gennaro Gattuso sees Lirola as a good fit at rightback in what will likely be a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. From what we’ve seen of Gattuso’s tactics, that makes perfect sense: he likes his fullbacks to stay deep and wide— forcing the opposing press to cover more ground and opens more space to pass through the middle—and the Spaniard impressed at Sassuolo in a very similar role under Roberto De Zerbi. Returning him to a more familiar brief rather than the wingback job he never looked comfortable in could resurrect his Viola career.

It’d also give Pradè a new lease on life, as he spent €12 million on the former U21 international to bring him to Florence before giving up on him after just a season. While there would have been a minor plusvalenza from selling Lirola due to the magic of amortization, it’s just embarrassing to splash that much on a guy one summer and ditch him the next.

It’s been quite the year for Pol, too. After falling behind Lorenzo Venuti and Martín Cáceres in the pecking order under Giuseppe Iachini then Cesare Prandelli, he left for Marseille in January. While that might’ve seemed like a massive upgrade (L’OM did finish 5th in Ligue 1), he wound up playing wingback again after manager André Villas-Boas had a public falling out with the club and Jorge Sampaoli took over. He also got busted for hosting a party that broke numerous coronavirus quarantine rules back in March, which is just really disappointing.

Nevertheless, he had a good half season, scoring 2 goals and assisting 2 more while starting 17 of 19 games. Still just 23, he’s obviously a good player who could improve. If Gattuso can get the best from him, he and Venuti should form a very solid platoon on the right flank. Just as important, that would allow Fiorentina to focus its resources elsewhere (wingers are the obvious spot) in this transfer window.