With pretty firm links to Valencia’s Gonçalo Guedes and somewhat more tenuous but still believable ones to Lanús’ Pedro de la Vega, let’s keep these winger stories coming, shall we?
Yup, that’s the usually-reliable Gianluca di Marzio reporting that Fiorentina are in “advanced” talks with Stuttgart for winger Nicolás González (alias el Bicho, or the Bug), having offered €20 million for the Argentina international. Die Roten will probably want a bit more than that—he signed an extension in November and is now under contract until 2024—but getting personal terms secured would be a big step in the right direction.
González is a terrific player, having scored 6 goals and assisted 2 more in only 15 Bundesliga appearances before an injury shut him down. Just 23 years old, he’s already earned 5 caps for la Albiceleste and scored twice. Equally comfortable as a striker as he is on the left, he’s mostly played up front this year but looks better suited to a wide role in the long-term.
Why’s that? Well, part of it is that he’s just rapid, consistently burning past defenders with nothing more than his sheer pace. He isn’t just a speedster, though; he’s got excellent technique on the ball, especially at pace, to leave defenders clutching at air in his wake. He looks like the kind of player who can give a fullback nightmares, especially since he’s quite clinical when he gets closer to goal. He can shoot from distance, cross, and even pop up with a header as well; the only real weakness in his game right now is passing, and he’s shown flashes of being quite good there too.
For the stat heads, he averaged an astounding 0.78 xG per 90 minutes. If you take out his penalties (3 of 4 from the spot), it’s still at a very good 5.2 over 15 matches. His passing numbers are fine: 2 xA isn’t half bad, and his progressive actions suffered because he was usually the farthest man up the pitch. The same goes for his dribbling stats: because he was usually deployed as a runner in behind rather than receiving the ball to feet and turning, he may not look like an especially effective dribbler, but the eyeball test makes it clear that he’s really good taking opponents on in space.
The only real drawback he has is a lengthy injury history, frequently due to his hamstrings; for a player with such electric pace, that’s always a bit of a concern. However, the upside of grabbing a player who’s already very good and could improve substantially as he enters his prime is simply too enticing to ignore. If Daniele Pradè and company can pull this off, it’ll be a real statement of intent to the rest of Serie A that Fiorentina is done messing around and is ready to get back to competing for Europe.