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7 free agents who could help round out Fiorentina’s squad

Just because the mercato’s closed doesn’t mean the Viola are done signing players.

Genoa CFC v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A
If you mix the red and blue, it’d make a purple shirt. Coincidence, or prophecy?
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

While Fiorentina have had a pretty productive summer transfer window and look to have improved quite a bit, the roster still has some holes. The most notable one is on the right wing, where 35-year-old José Callejón is the starter, with the explosive but raw Riccardo Sottil penciled in as his backup. Riccardo Saponara is also cheesing around. The concern here is that if Callejón or Nicolás González (who does have an injury history) miss any time, things could fall apart in a hurry.

Too, the only backup striker behind Dušan Vlahović is Aleksandr Kokorin. While the artist formerly known as the Very Large Teenager is going to play a lot of minutes this year, he can’t play all of them; it’d be nice to grab a veteran who’s produced in Serie A previously. There’s also a minor question at leftback, where Aleksa Terzić, fresh off his first full season as a defender (he was originally a winger) with Empoli in Serie B, is locked in behind Cristiano Biraghi; while Igor can probably fill in, Vincenzo Italiano has used him exclusively in central defense.

With three problem spots, then, Daniele Pradè could well turn to the free agent pool to add depth. While that could also prove tricky, especially with an overcrowded midfield that may need to be sorted as well, there are a few good options. The rules here are that I’m only looking at players who might realistically sign for Fiorentina. Franck Ribery, for example, isn’t an option here. That said, let’s flip through the options.

Right wing

Diego Perotti: The former AS Roma standout spent last year at Fenerbahçe and came flying out the gate, scoring 3 goals in his first 3 appearances. Unfortunately, an Achilles injury knocked him out for the rest of the year. Now 33 and coming off an injury that could rob him of his pace, he’s not exactly a sure thing. If he’s able to recapture his physical ability, though, his pace, technique, and ability to cut in from the right could make him a very good fit under Vincenzo Italiano.

Federico Cartabia: Another Argentine, Cartabia’s spent almost his entire career in Spain although he also holds an Italian passport. That, combined with a player agency that has contacts on the peninsula, makes him a reasonably enticing target. Stylistically, he’s basically a younger version of Perotti without the medical issues, although he’s also never quite reached those levels either: he’s never scored more than 4 league goals in a season and spent last couple years in the UAE before terminating his contract with Deportivo la Coruña. At 27, he’s pretty much the player he’s going to be, but he could probably soak up 500 minutes this season without being a catastrophe.

Iago Falque: The 31-year-old Spaniard (who shares an agent with Perotti) has spent the past 7 years in Italy, culminating (?) in a loan spell to Benevento from Torino last season which saw him score a goal in 11 appearances. Still, he’s hit double figures in Serie A three times and could also fill in at striker in a pinch. Always a brilliant technical player, he can be very inconsistent with his end product but has the sort of magic you might want available on the bench.

Striker

Facundo Ferreyra: It’s been a rough few years since the Argentine scored 46 goals over 2 seasons for Shakhtar Donetsk. He never settled at Benfica and struggled on loan at Celta Vigo last year. However, he has a versatile playing style that should fit in Florence, a wealth of experience all over Europe, and Italian dual citizenship. Still only 30, he’s the sort of low-risk, high-reward signing who could mentor Vlahović and remain effective in spurts, especially if he can rediscover the form that made him so deadly in Ukraine.

Fernando Llorente: Inter Milan just turned down the 36-year-old Spaniard, so it’s clear that he’d like to stay in Italy even though he only scored once in Serie A last year. While he doesn’t have the mobility to lead the pressing in Italiano’s system, he’s a useful Plan B who knows the game and could serve as the focal point of the attack. If he’s willing to buy into the the Viola project, he could offer the team some quality while also helping Dušan develop.

Leftback

Loris Benito: The 29-year-old can play in the heart of defense or on the left wing, but he’s best as a fullback. After a couple of solid years at Bordeaux, he mutually terminated his contract with les Girondins and sounds like he could be close to returning to Switzerland with Basel. His versatility and experience could make him a very good Biraghi backup, although it’d probably require some decisive movements from Pradè to make it happen.

Yuto Nagatomo: He’s 34 and might be washed, but the Viola under Commisso have loved a veteran signing and the former Inter Milan man fits the bill. He played 1600+ minutes for Marseille last year (it’d be fun to send him the opposite direction of Pol Lirola) and seems to have some gas left in the tank, as evidenced by the fact that he’s set to add to his 125 caps as Japan in World Cup qualifiers over the international break.