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Belotti’s the guy if (if!) Vlahović leaves

The Torino hitman has a proven record in Serie A and wouldn’t be the worst option up top.

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Italy v England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final
Tanino did it better, but still.
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The fate of Harry Kane is maybe the biggest non-Olympic story in sports right now. The Tottenham Hotspur striker has refused to show up for training as he tries to force a move to Manchester City, which is the sort of catastrophe one usually associates with, y’know, Fiorentina.

While Spurs are obviously desperate to hang onto their captain, it sounds like DS Fabio Paratici (boo, hiss) is putting together a striker succession plan just in case. The name that’s supposedly atop his list is none other than Dušan Vlahović, which is enough to send a chill through any Viola fan’s veins.

If (and it remains a very substantial if) Vlahović moves to North London, Fiorentina would obviously need to go out and buy a striker; the only other options on the roster are Christian Kouamé, Aleksandr Kokorin, and Gabriele Gori, none of whom are even close to ready for such a big job.

The priority would be finding a center forward who can fit manager Vincenzo Italiano’s system while still offering some serious scoring punch. Since 20-goal strikers don’t grow on trees, that narrows the search considerably. According to la Repubblica (via ViolaNews), in fact, DS Daniele Pradè has zeroed in on his target in case he needs to replace the Former Very Large Teenager, and that target is Torino striker Andrea Belotti.

Belotti’s not the most popular player around here, but he can definitely play. He produced 13 goals and 6 assists for a miserably bad Granata side this year and has hit double digits every season since 2015-2016, including a 26-goal haul 5 years ago. He’s a good finisher, links up well with fellow attackers, works hard, offers and aerial threat and some pace in behind, and generally offers everything you want from a striker at this level.

He’d probably cost somewhere around €30 million, although with a contract expiring after this season and il Toro’s inability to find him a running mate—Simone Zaza, really?—the scuttlebutt is that Belotti’s ready to move on. While that’s a big pile of money, he’s a 27-year-old striker with a proven record of scoring in Serie A, so there’s no way to grab him for cheap. Too, if (if!) Vlahović is sold, that €30 million would probably be about half the fee for him, so it wouldn’t set the team back financially.

Before we get too carried away, though, let’s remember that Kane is far from signing for City; it may well be that Pep Guardiola decides to spend on Jack Grealish (or someone else entirely) instead and Kane winds up sticking around Spurs. While Inter Milan have been sniffing around Dušan as well as a potential replacement if Romelu Lukaku or Lautaro Martínez move on, that just opens the potential for a bidding war to drive the Serbia international’s price into the stratosphere.

Finally, Fiorentina are reportedly working very hard to get their superstar a new contract, one that would offer him a big raise. From what we can glean, most of the details are ironed out, with just the buyout clause—Vlahović’s camp wants it at €60 million while the Viola want it well above that—holding up the deal. Right now, there’s still a very, very good chance that Tuscany’s finest number nine isn’t going anywhere, and that’s the best news. If he does leave, though, it’s nice to know that Pradè’s getting the legwork done ahead of time to replace him.