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Álvaro Odriozola is just about Fiorentina’s new right-back

Barring any failed medicals or drama ala Milinkovic-Savic, the Real Madrid man gives much needed depth and talent

Real Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

With just five days to go in the mercato, Fiorentina is getting close to wrapping up their incoming business.

A wide array of reputable Viola reporters (first reported by Gianluca Di Marzio) are saying that Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola has agreed to a one-year loan deal, which would see him land in Firenze tomorrow for medicals.

The deal is reported to be a dry loan, meaning there’s no buy option to keep the 25-year-old in Firenze should he impress.

This is to replace the outgoing Pol Lirola. A deal for first-choice replacement Davide Zappacosta was hijacked by Atalanta, so the Viola quickly moved on to other targets. Odriozola will join the Viola in the fourth year of a six-year deal he signed with Los Blancos back in 2018. Originally from Spain’s Basque region, he made his name with Real Sociedad, whose academy he joined in 2006. After an impressive 2017-2018 campaign in which he logged nearly 3,000 minutes, he earned a callup to Spain’s World Cup squad. A €30 million move to the capital followed, where he’s failed to live up to the price tag. He’s mustered just 43 appearances for Madrid, although his stats of 4 goals and 10 assists are impressive for a defender. He also moved on loan to Bayern Munich for the second half of the 2019-2020 campaign, but only appeared 5 times and became more of a meme for winning five titles in just 10 appearances that season between Bayern and Madrid.

As a player, Odriozola is very attack-minded. On fbref, the player second most similar to him is Zappacosta, which gives a good idea of what to expect (and maybe some insight into Daniele Pradè’s scouting system). Jokes aside, when he’s played for Madrid he hasn’t been half-bad.

His strengths lie with his pace and on-ball ability. He consistently ranks high in progressive carries and shot-creating actions, which is not a strength of either Lorenzo Venuti or Cristiano Biraghi. He’ll offer something very different offensively in a good way, and has been above average in final-third pressures at Madrid. Expect Italiano to use those strengths as a weapon, throwing him forwards with the idea that his pace can help him recover.

Where he’s not as good as someone like, say, Lille’s Zeki Çelik is on the other side of the ball. He was in the 5th percentile of tackles won and the 92nd percentile of players dribbled past in his last season at Sociedad. Last season, he was in the 2nd and 99th percentile respectively, so that’s still an issue. If he’s as bad at defense as those stats suggest, we may see some late-game defensive substitutions from Italiano when trying to hold a lead.

In a vacuum, Ordiozola’s defensive issues can be hidden, but with how out-of-sorts our back four looked on Sunday, there will be a lot of work to do. With Lucas Torreira now in the midfield, however, I’m slightly more comfortable. He’ll be able to track back and cover Odriozola in a way Erick Pulgar physically can’t. Playing Odriozola also means that against top-7 opposition, I expect one of Sofyan Amrabat (if he stays) or Pulgar to feature to offer more support defensively.

A disappointing aspect of this deal is the fact that no purchase option is included. This means that in all likelihood, we’ll be looking for a new right-back next summer, and the carousel will continue. However, Odriozola certainly offers a lot of talent, and will finally get consistent playtime for the first time in four years. Fiorentina’s right flank will also be able to pose offensive danger, which will only improve with the addition of a new winger in the coming days.