Coming into this season, one of Fiorentina’s greatest strengths was between the sticks. Bartłomiej Drągowski was one of Serie A’s brightest young goalkeepers, a 1-v-1 savant with heaps of character who seemed poised to grow into a world-class stopper. Behind him, Pietro Terracciano offered a steady pair of hands for cup competitions, while everyone’s best friend Antonio Rosati offered a training room presence.
Bart earned a straight red in his first game of the year and quickly fell out of Vincenzo Italiano’s plans, largely due to his discomfort in possession and his uncertainty sweeping up behind his defense. Terracciano, while hardly the second coming of Manuel Neuer, is a bit better with his feet, and duly became the new number one. However, the 31-year-old is clearly better suited to a backup role, so goalkeeper has gone from a strength to an obvious weakness.
Enter Empoli number one Guglielmo Vicario. The 25-year-old is another one off the Udinese goalkeeper production line, and at a commanding 6’4/194 cm, he looks the part. After Udinese sold him to Venezia for just €500, he eventually rose through the ranks to lead them to Serie A (alongside Youssef Maleh), earning a move to Cagliari, where he failed to unseat Alessio Cragno. Loaned to Empoli this year, he’s started every game and impressed in his debut campaign as a top flight custodian.
Stylistically, he looks a good fit. Out of all the goalkeepers in Serie A, he’s played the 2nd-highest percentage of open play passes short, which indicates his comfort level in possession. He’s also made some good saves and is generally pretty good claiming crosses. As with any goalkeeper tasked with keeping the ball ticking along around the back, he’s made a few mistakes and had a few more anxious moments, but he’s shown himself to be, at worst, a competent Serie A player.
Empoli, who have a €10 million option on him. If they take it, they might be willing to flip him immediately for a profit. If they don’t, Cagliari may need to sell him for relatively cheap, especially if they get relegated. Inter Milan and Napoli are reportedly also interested, but the Viola are supposedly close to finishing the deal.
It would make for a weird quirk if the deal goes through, as it will mean that this team’s three most recent goalies will have come from Empoli. If I’m being honest, I don’t see him as an upgrade on Bart; to me, he’s likely around Terracciano’s level, albeit younger. However, Fiorentina has a knack for finding talented young goalkeepers—Drągowski, Neto, Alban Lafont—and I’m far from being a goalkeeping expert, so Vicario could be the next Viola coup between the sticks.