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Report: Fiorentina chasing Lo Celso

The Spurs midfielder would take the Viola engine room up a level.

Italy v Argentina - Finalissima 2022 Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Even after signing Rolando Mandragora, Fiorentina’s midfield looks like the shakiest department in the team. The loss of Toothless Lucas Torreira and the injury to Gaetano Castrovilli—who’s training on the side but is likely a couple of months away from playing, much less regaining his form—means that there’s no real creativity or drive in the middle. Mandragora, Sofyan Amrabat, Giacomo Bonaventura, Alfred Duncan, Youssef Maleh, and Szymon Żurkowski aren’t suited to carry the creative load, so it makes sense that Daniele Pradè would look for reinforcements for the engine room.

And if, it’s true that he’s looking for a South American international who’s fallen out of favor in north London, we’d be thrilled. Tottenham Hotspur’s Giovani Lo Celso is a class player who has no significant weaknesses and would fit seamlessly into Vincenzo Italiano’s setup. Reports out of Italy and England have claimed that the Viola brass are considering a move for the 26-year-old, and, given that Antonio Conte doesn’t seem to have space for him, a deal seems very possible.

The Rosario-born midfielder has had a slightly odd career. Anointed as the next great Argentine midfielder, he jumped to PSG in 2016. It felt like a year or two too early for him, and after failing to establish himself in the XI, he moved to Real Betis 2 years later. He was so good in Seville that Spurs swooped in with a €48 million offer in 2020, but he didn’t quite take to life in the UK and spent last year on loan at Villarreal, where he was instrumental in a magical Champions League run for the Yellow Submarine which saw them knock out Bayern Munich and (ahem) Juventus.

Lo Celso looks like he was designed in a lab for il giocco al Italiano. He’s never been particularly prolific (although he did hit 9 for Betis in 2019-2020, hinting at untapped potential there), he’s a fantastic tackler and presser who’s also a very good passer and a solid dribbler. His fbref statistics paint the picture of a number 10 who’s not afraid to dig in and work, which reflects Villarreal’s ethos, but he’d probably be even better in a slightly deeper role where he wasn’t playing on the turn as much and had time to play the killer pass.

While Italiano would love his work rate and athleticism, Daniel Levy has set a price of €20 million that’s already seen Villarreal decline to make an offer and could be a bit too much for Fiorentina as well. If Pradè and Joe Barone can talk the price down a bit, though, his salary should fit within the wage structure easily enough. With Lo Celso under contract until 2025, too, it’s a matter of figuring out whether Levy wants to keep a clearly surplus player on the books for another 3 years or just cash in now.

Any deal would be quite complicated and would probably take weeks of negotiation to push through, so maybe don’t run out and grab that Lo Celso 17 shirt quite yet. Still, signing another Argentina international (thanks, Nicolás Burdisso) would elevate Fiorentina’s profile and would improve the squad’s quality dramatically. If management can get this one over the line, it’d be a real coup.