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Mattia Zaccagni is good, but maybe not €15 million good

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The Viola don’t want to overspend on a player who’ll be out of contract next season.

SOCCER: APR 11 Serie A - Hellas Verona v SS Lazio Photo by Stefano Nicoli/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite adding Nicolás González and bringing back Riccardo Sottil, Fiorentina are very much in the market for more attackers. Behind those putative starters, Vincenzo Italiano can call on Tòfol Montiel, Riccardo Saponara, José Callejón, and a few Primavera prospects who are likely miles away from contributing in Serie A. That’s probably why we’ve heard a lot about the Viola planning a move for Hellas Verona attacker Mattia Zaccagni.

The rub is that the Mastini are holding out for a €15 million fee, according to La Nazione (via fiorentina.it). While Zaccagni’s probably worth that much or more in most years, his contract runs out in 2022, which means he could be had for the tempting price of nothing in 12 months. The 26-year-old doesn’t seem to have any interest in signing an extension, so it’s really a matter of everyone trying to wait each other out now.

It’s an awkward situation for a very good player. Some of Zaccagni’s closest comps on fbref are Gonçalo Guedes, Takefusa Kubo, and Mikkel Damsgaard, which is pretty good statistical company. Having contributed 5 goals and 5 assists to a pretty poor Verona attack, he’d likely look miles better in Italiano’s more forward-thinking setup, as he’d be allowed to use his creativity and skill on the ball to carve out chances for others in that wide playmaker role that the mister seems to like.

He completes a low number of passes, but that’s because he’s usually attempting high degree-of-difficulty stuff that he’s good enough to pull off. For example, he produced 2.17 passes in open play that led to a shot, 3.86 touches in the opponent’s penalty box, and 2.34 successful dribbles per 90 (all numbers from fbref). For comparison’s sake, those would all be top-3 for Fiorentina players.

Those numbers are why AC Milan is rumored to be eying him as a replacement for Hakan Çalhanoğlu. Perhaps Verona president Maurizio Setti is hoping to spark a bidding war between the Rossoneri and the Viola, which seems like a deeply unequal contest except for the rapport between Hellas and Fiorentina due to a longstanding gemellagio and the recent transfers of Sofyan Amrabat, Marco Benassi, and Federico Ceccherini.

If sporting director Daniele Pradè can drive the price down to something like €10 million, Zaccagni would certainly be worth the money. Even playing for a Hellas Verona side that scored the 6th-fewest goals in the division, he earned himself a callup from Roberto Mancini, although he didn’t actually get into the game. “Fringe Italy international” is the sort of profile that Fiorentina can reasonably hope to attract and build with, and Zaccagni’s skill set and availability mean he lands right in the sweet spot for this club if Setti’s willing to drop the price a bit.