Despite Joe Barone’s recent assertion that Fiorentina will wait until after the preseason session at Moena to buy new players—Vincenzo Italiano should know what he does and doesn’t have by then—it seems quite likely that sporting director Daniele Pradè will stay pretty busy throughout. The most recent piece of evidence comes from the most recent episode of the Italian Football Podcast (always worth a listen), in which host Nima Tavalley learned from Sportitalia journalist Gianluigi Longari that the Viola are interested in Tottenham Hotspur’s Erik Lamela.
ATTENZIONE— The Italian Football Podcast (@ItaFootPod) July 15, 2021
@Glongari mercato special
- #Fiorentina - #Spurs: #Lamela & #Milenkovic
- #Juventus: #Dybala #Cuadrado #Chiellini
- #Locatelli wants #Juve #Arsenal & #BVB
- #Chiesa: #Chelsea & #Bayern
- #Barella #Lukaku stay
- #Insigne #Napoli
Much more pic.twitter.com/5eewVMS894
Longari says, “Fiorentina is very interested in Tottenham’s Erik Lamela and so could be a new transfer market deal. It is at the explorative stage because Spurs are interested in some Fiorentina players, like Milenković whose contract expires in 2022 and also Dušan Vlahović whose contract expires in 2023. I don’t think Fiorentina want to sell Vlahović, for Milenković there is a bigger possibility and during these talks Fiorentina showed their interest in Lamela who has a contract with Tottenham that expires in 2022. This could be a good transfer for Fiorentina if the price was good, meaning Fiorentina could give some €5-6m to Spurs and could offer Lamela a 3 year contract.”
While Lamela’s always had outrageous technique, he’s not as productive as you’d maybe like to see; he’s scored 10 goals and assisted 8 over the past 5 Premier League campaigns, which doesn’t exactly get the heart racing. He’s also got a lengthy history of soft tissue injuries, missing 48 games over the past 3 years.
That said, he’s still only 29 and probably has some good years left, especially since he could work in a platoon with Riccardo Sottil opposite Nicolás González, which would reduce some of the stress on his body. He’s also developed a reputation as one of the world’s best pressing wingers and remains a very good dribbler. It’s also worth remembering that in 2 years with AS Roma, he tallied 19 goals and 10 assists, so perhaps Serie A is a better fit for him.
With just a year left on his deal, Longari’s estimate of €5-6 million feels about right. His wage could be tricky (earning €2.2 million), but if he’s willing to take a haircut, there shouldn’t be too many issues. The real concern for Viola fans is the unspoken part of Longari’s comments: that Spurs could use Lamela as a makeweight in a deal for Vlahović or Milenković.
Both Serbian internationals are currently discussing renewals with the Fiorentina brass amidst non-stop rumors that they’re on the way out. Milenković’s contract runs out at the end of this year, while Vlahović is under club control until 2023. Since most of us have been resigned to Big Nicky’s looming departure for a year or so, getting back Lamela and another €20 million or so represents a pretty good value. That’s a useful player and enough cash to reinforce the various other weak spots on the roster.
If it’s Lamela + cash for Vlahović, though, things look a lot less rosy. It’s very unlikely that Fiorentina would find a striker as good as Vlahović for anything under €60 million. Gaining Lamela wouldn’t come close to offsetting the pain of losing the Former Very Large Teenager, who was one of very few bright spots for this team last year.
If nothing else, it’s a good look into what kind of player Fiorentina are targeting. Lamela’s an established name who’s fallen off a bit in recent years, which is the sort of profile that generally sets Pradè’s senses to tingling. As a tricky wide playmaker who can shoot, dribble, pass, and defend, he might also give us a clue into what Italiano wants from his right winger. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one and seeing how it shakes out.