Even after snapping up Nicolás González and welcoming Riccardo Sottil back to the fold, Fiorentina are still need to reinforce the attack for new manager Vincenzo Italiano. As we recently postulated, shopping at Serie A’s relegated sides—Benevento, Crotone, and Parma—could be a nice way to add quality without breaking the bank. Now Squali DS Beppe Ursino has confirmed that the Viola have made contact with him over a couple of players: Junior Messias and Simy.
Per Ursino, both his stars are available on the market: “Messias and Simy have shown the desire to stay in Serie A, and this is fair because they deserve it.” He went on to add, “Fiorentina showed up at the beginning [of the summer] for both of them, but then they went quiet and haven’t contacted us anymore.”
The timeline here means that the Viola reached out to Crotone early last month, probably right around the time they brought Gennaro Gattuso on board. It’s no surprise, then, that Pradè and company let the matter drop while they dealt with Gattuso and Jorge Mendes, signed record transfer González, and hired Italiano. Now that all those matters are ironed out, perhaps the Tuscan brain trust will re-open the conversation.
We’ll start with Junior Messias. Now 30 years old, the Brazilian forward is probably looking for his last big contract, especially because he’s on the books for the Pitagorici until 2024. He enjoyed a very good campaign, scoring 9 goals (all from open play) and adding 4 assists while leading the team’s outfield players in minutes played.
His underlying statistics are even more impressive, though. He completed 35 key passes and 41 into the opposing penalty area in open play; both those numbers would be 2nd-best for Fiorentina last year after Cristiano Biraghi (!). He managed 0.39 goal creating actions per 90 minutes, which is equal to Gaetano Castrovilli and trails only Franck Ribery. He led Crotone in pressures by over 200, which is absolutely mad. His 120 touches in opposing penalty areas trails just Dušan Vlahović, and he attempted 50% more dribbles than Ribery while completing them at a decent rate.
In short, he’s a dynamic player. He’d likely be quite useful dropping off of Vlahović, but his pace, shiftiness, and creativity mean he could also potentially play on the right, cutting inside onto his stronger left foot. As a late bloomer—he was still playing amateur ball in 2019—you’d think that he wouldn’t cost more than €7 million; while there’s certainly a risk that last year was an outlier for him, he was quite productive last year and could offer Italiano a fascinating option up front or on the wing.
Simy, on the other hand, has a contract running out in 2022, so he should be available for a discount. That’s an odd situation for a guy who scored 20 league goals, so there should be significant interest in the 29-year-old Nigerian. He’s another late bloomer, having signed with Crotone back in 2016. Like his running mate, he’s a bit of a flash in the pan, although he did score 20 last year in Serie B and has produced double digit hauls in 4 separate seasons in the second tier in Italy and Portugal.
Checking in at nearly 2 m/6’6, you’d expect him to be a prototypical target man. The numbers, however, show that he’s anything but: he won just a third of his aerial duels last year and scored a single header. He’s also not much on holdup play, largely because his high center of gravity makes him easy to bundle off the ball.
What sets him apart is his intelligent movement off the ball. He’s a fantastic poacher who’s shown a knack for getting in front of his defender or appearing unmarked on the back post despite his height; his average distance per shot last year was under 12 yards from goal, indicating his ability to find space and get a shot away. That skill set makes him look a perfect bomber di provincia, but if he’s willing to operate as the backup, he could offer a devastating change of pace to or partner for Vlahović up front, especially since he probably wouldn’t cost more than €10 million at the outside.
According to Ursino, Torino has made contact for Junior Messias already, but it doesn’t sound like a deal’s immediately forthcoming; Simy’s market still hasn’t picked up all that much, from what we can glean. Neither is the sort of young prospect oozing potential that gets the supporters (particularly the Football Manager crowd) really excited, but they’ve both proven that they can do it in Serie A and would come cheap. That’s not a bad way to improve a team that needs it.