Good news, everyone. We can confirm that Fiorentina’s roster will be even handsomer next year. The Viola have decided to pay the €2.2ish million to bring Riccardo Sottil back from Cagliari, returning one of the best looking (and low-key most impressive) players in Serie A back to Tuscany. On loan midfielder Alfred Duncan is also returning.
Terminano i prestiti di Arturo Calabresi, Alfred Duncan, Radja Nainggolan, Daniele Rugani e Riccardo Sottil. Scade inoltre il contratto di Kwadwo Asamoah.— Cagliari Calcio (@CagliariCalcio) June 30, 2021
To refresh your memory, Ricky spent 2019-2020 alternately trying to replicate Franck Ribery and play wingback. Neither worked very well, so the club loaned him to the Isolani, who got a €10 million clause to make the move permanent, although Fiorentina hung onto a €12ish million buyback clause. In financial terms, this means they basically paid a couple million euros to give Sottil a season-long Sardinian adventure.
It’s really a no-brainer for Daniele Pradè and company. Sottil, besides being an academy product, is probably better than any other winger the club could find for €10 million. While he wasn’t great for the Rossoblù last year—24 appearances, 4 goals, 2 assists—a lot of that was the context. The thought was that he was exactly what Eusebio di Francesco needed to implement his system, but EdF’s catastrophic tenure combined with a long-term thigh injury and a move to Leonardo Semplici’s wingerless system kept the U21 international from balling out.
Even so, a look at some of the underlying stats shows a player who’s primed for a huge year. Per Fbref, his dribble success rate was higher than any other winger’s in the division at 74.5%, and his 2.88 successful dribbles per 90 minutes ranked 5th among attackers. In terms of progressive carries per 90, only Luis Alberto and Rodrigo De Paul were better. That kind of skill on the ball is something you can’t really teach; if Ricky can figure out his end product, he’ll be one of Italy’s best.
For now, though, he’ll join Dušan Vlahović and Nicolás González in an extremely exciting front three, offering dynamism, flexibility, and a certain level of excitement Fiorentina fans haven’t had since Federico Chiesa left town. And even if Sottil doesn’t make the jump to the next level this year, he’s still just so outrageously handsome you can’t be mad at him.
Duncan, on the other hand, is a fantastic central midfielder who’s nearly always looked wonderful for Fiorentina. He hasn’t gotten many chances and was shipped to Cagliari on loan after earning a €17 million move in January 2020, largely because Giuseppe Iachini couldn’t figure out how to work him into the rotation.
Assured in possession and positionally disciplined, he’s happy at the base of the midfield or higher up. With his excellent ball carrying, metronomic passing, and wicked shot from distance he could be the missing cog in this enigmatic Viola midfield if Italiano decides to keep him around. If nothing else, the Ghanaian international is a hero and a saint, and even if he weren’t a very useful player we’d welcome him back and support him with all our hearts.
Bentornato, Ricky e Alfred.