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OFFICIAL: Nastasić is back

Nine years later, the defender returns to Florence.

FC Schalke 04 - Training Camp Second Bundesliga Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

After teasing it for more than a month, Fiorentina have finally closed the deal for Matija Nastasić. The centerback joins from Schalke for what we expect is a very low fee, given that his contract ran out there next year (probably in the €2 million range) and has signed a contract that will run until 2025, although we don’t have the details on that yet either. He’s not in the squad for tomorrow’s clash against AS Roma.

It’s something of a homecoming for Nastasić, who signed for Fiorentina in 2011 from Partizan as one of Pantaleo Corvino’s typical Balkan buys. After being thrust into the XI following some injuries, he impressed enough to earn a move to Manchester City at the end of the year that sent Stevan Savić and €25 million the other way.

He was up and down in Manchester but solidified his standing when Schalke bought him 3 years later, spending half a decade as a fixture in the heart of the defense. While he’s struggled occasionally with injuries, he’s a very good player and has earned 28 caps for Serbia, sometimes playing alongside Nikola Milenković.

Indeed, he explained that he’s been in touch with the Mountain, who’s been getting him up to speed on this current edition of the Viola. Nastasić, who’s still somehow just 28, looks like a ready-made replacement for the recently-departed Germán Pezzella; while his stats show him being slightly less effective in the tackle, he’s probably better in possession, which should suit Vincenzo Italiano’s tactics perfectly.

Nastasić will have to fight with Lucas Martínez Quarta and Igor for a place in the XI, but his experience, quality on the ball, and preexisting partnership with Milenković should at the very least put him in the running. At worst, he’s a talented and well-seasoned veteran who can provide cover for the starters, although there’s also the chance that he recaptures the form that made him one of the most coveted defenders in Europe last time he was in Florence.

For now, though, it’s nice to have him back. Welcome, Matija. You look a little more weathered than you did last time you were here, but that’s true for all of us. We’re thrilled you’re back.

AC Siena v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Look at that baby face.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images