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Fiorentina’s midfield is entering carousel mode

As per usual, we’re looking at a very busy end of the mercato under Daniele Pradè.

UC Sampdoria v Juventus FC - Serie A
“No, I want Fiorentina more.”
Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

If you look at Fiorentina’s roster, there’s quite a bit of midfield talent. Gaetano Castrovilli, Sofyan Amrabat, Erick Pulgar, Giacomo Bonaventura, Youssef Maleh, Alfred Duncan, and Marco Benassi bring a lot of different attributes to the table; it’s up to manager Vincenzo Italiano to blend them into an engine that propels the team forward. Even with those 7 players, though, it seems like sporting director Daniele Pradè isn’t done chopping and changing.

As Andrea Giannattasio (who’s pretty plugged into the team as a journalist for PentaSport, La Nazione, and FirenzeViola) says in the tweet, Amrabat leaving could open space for one of Lucas Torreira or Miralem Pjanić to join. Both look like the sort of player Italiano wants directing traffic at the base of his midfield, but it’d take a lot of work to bring them in even without an Amrabat deal preceding them.

Let’s start with Amrabat. While he’s shown flashes of quality, he hasn’t hit the levels that he did at Hellas Verona two years ago. With the Gialloblu, he looked like Serie A’s best midfielder and earned himself a €20 million move to Florence. Often miscast under Giuseppe Iachini, the Morocco international wasn’t allowed to express his best qualities—energy, tackling, directness—and was shackled to a regista role that didn’t suit him.

Now linked to Napoli (presumably as cover for the injured Diego Demme), the Viola would likely want somewhere in the region of their original investment back. The Partenopei, however, are almost certain to request that any deal be a loan with an option to buy, which could land the Viola in trouble down the line if Amrabat returns next year, just as the returns of Benassi and Duncan have led to an overstocked midfield this summer. In short, this would be a complicated deal that Pradè would need to finish very quickly.

Should that happen, Arsenal’s Torreira seems like a genuine possibility as a replacement. He’s currently training apart from the team and has reportedly indicated that Florence is his preferred destination, although it sounds like there are plenty of other suitors, both inside and outside of Italy, where his reputation is probably higher than in England or Spain.

After rising to prominence at Sampdoria as a deep-lying playmaker and enforcer under Marco Giampaolo, he’s never quite reached that initial promise. He’s been linked to Florence previously, and I’ll stand by my analysis at the time. The only difference is that Torreira looks like a perfect fit with Italiano’s tactics as a progressive passer from deep who presses well. If the rumors are to be believed, the structure of any deal will be a loan with the Gunners paying a large portion of the Uruguay international’s wage and an option to make the move permanent next year.

The dark horse here is Pjanić. He only made 6 starts for the Blaugrana after his €60 million move from Juventus last year and, considering the ruinous financial situation the Catalans face, is maybe the player they’re most desperate to jettison, largely due to a salary of about €8.5 million after tax. Under contract until 2024, they likely want to sell him to clear his wage off the books, even if they have to take a loss.

Now 31, Pjanić has a decade of experience as one of Serie A’s finest registe. He’d immediately be one of Fiorentina’s best players and, while not as defensively capable as Torreira or Amrabat, would offer a silkiness on the ball that we haven’t seen since David Pizarro ran the show. Pjanić (who’s reportedly high on Fiorentina) would make this team a lot better, but the finances complicate the deal to an extreme degree.

It’s worth mentioning that Pulgar looked pretty good as the regista against AS Roma, displaying some skill on the ball that we hadn’t seen under Iachini, so any move for Torreira or Pjanić would mean pushing him further forward in midfield or dropping him to the bench even if Amrabat moves on. It’d also block Maleh from the minutes he needs to develop and would render Duncan and Benassi even further surplus to requirements.

Unlike most rumors, it seems that this one’s got some legs. We’re expecting some sort of movement here; just how exactly that shapes up is the only real mystery left. With just a week left in the transfer window, though, we’re definitely in Pradè’s wheelhouse, so all we can do is wait for another few days and see what we end up with.