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Report: Lirola and Marseille flirting but Fiorentina’s not interested

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The fullback wants to return to the Stade Vélodrome, but the Olympiens aren’t playing ball with the Viola.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-MARSEILLE Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images

Pol Lirola’s Fiorentina career has been a collection of ups and downs, but more of the latter. Heralded as the solution to a decades-long shortcoming at rightback after joining from Sassuolo for €13 million in 2019, it soon became clear that Vincenzo Montella’s “tactics” didn’t suit him. While he showed some growth under Giuseppe Iachini, it was mostly stunted by Beppe trying to use him on the left, where the Spaniard was woeful. Under Cesare Prandelli, he fell behind Lorenzo Venuti and Martín Cáceres in the pecking order.

A January loan to Marseille last year seemed in everyone’s best interests, as Lirola cut a pretty forlorn figure by that point. At L’Om, though, he recaptured some of the sparkling form that made him such a promising prospect, scoring 2 goals and assisting 2 more despite the chaos surrounding manager Andres Villas-Boas’ resignation. There was some expectation that the Olympiens would trigger his €12 million clause to make the move permanent, but they let the deadline pass last month and Lirola returned to Florence.

That hasn’t dampened his ardor for France’s oldest city, though. He posted a since-deleted Instagram video of himself in the gym with the caption, “To come back stronger next season with Olympique Marseille,” which reportedly earned him a fine from the Viola brass as a reminder that he is, in fact, still a Fiorentinan player. The thirst seems to be mutual, as president Pablo Longoria has been in touch with both Lirola and Daniele Pradè over the past several weeks.

Here’s where it gets tricky. We know that L’Om declined to pay Lirola’s clause, but the rumor mill claimed that refusal was fueled by a desire to get a discount, which Pradè and company dismissed. Per ViolaNews’ Niccolò Schira, who may be the most connected Viola journalist around, Marseille have been in contact with Lirola for quite some time. However, the French outfit hasn’t had any further discussions with Fiorentina in weeks.

That’s not because Longoria’s skint or anything. In fact, he’s splashed out an eye-watering €53.5 million this summer on Gerson (yes, that one), Pau López, Cengiz Ünder, Leonardo Balerdi, and Konrad de la Fuente. Haggling over a couple million for Lirola seems mightily petty, although a similar approach saved L’Om €4 million on the Balerdi deal, which might be why Longoria’s pinching his pennies.

[edit 11:08 AM PST: Marseille have also grabbed Mattéo Guendouzi on loan, which puts them on the hook for another € 1 million now and €11 million at season’s end, while the mooted William Saliba loan could add to that total as well.]

Regardless, good for Pradè and company for not just letting a very talented player leave for nothing. Lirola, after all, is just 23 and looks like a perfect fit for Vincenzo Italiano’s style of play, which requires defenders to be very comfortable on the ball. Marseille know what it’ll take to get him and are trying to talk down the price. That’s fine, but if Italiano determines in Moena that he wants Lirola, that could slam the door on any further talks.