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Report: Leicester City offering big money for Nico González

The Viola are once again facing offers for their star attacker in January.

ACF Fiorentina v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nicolás González is, without a doubt, Fiorentina’s best attacking player when fit. His combination of pace, off-ball industry, dribbling ability, and instincts in the box make him the type of forward a club can build an attack around. We’ve all known it since last year, and although we were all gutted that he missed the World Cup through injury, we at least found the silver lining: maybe, if he didn’t shine on the biggest stage, he’d stick around Florence for a little longer. Now that he’s back, though, it might be time to scotch that hope.

Yep, that’s Leicester City considering a €34 million bid for the 24-year-old. The Foxes are likely starting to feel some desperation, given that they’re just 2 points out of the relegation places and haven’t won a Premier League match since the restart and have scored just 5 goals in 6 their past 6 total games (3 of which came against against MK Dons, who are second-last in League One). González would immediately slot in ahead of Marc Albrighton and offer some dynamism in the final third. If you’re Brendan Rodgers, you’re going to insist that Leicester flex its financial muscle.

And for Fiorentina, it makes some sense to sell. €34 million represents a significant capital gain on the player, who joined for €10 million less; due to amortization, Joe Barone and company could be looking at a €15 million profit. The Viola are, in theory, stacked with wingers—Riccardo Sottil (once he’s healthy), Christian Kouamé (if he’s not needed at striker), Jonathan Ikoné (if he remembers how to shoot), and Riccardo Saponara (a beautiful bald god). They’re also strongly linked to guys like Jeremie Boga (cool), Jasper Karlsson (sure), and Josip Brekalo (eww). If they want to cash in, now is the moment.

Too, there’s the matter of Nico’s health. Nobody doubts his talent and nobody (except maybe Barone) doubts his dedication, but the fact is that González misses a lot of games. Part of that is his play style: sudden, violent movements to get around defenders put a player at risk of soft tissue injuries, and the kicking that he absorbs only magnifies that risk. Since the start of the 2020-2021 season, he’s missed 38 games with various injuries. As my college coach said, “Availability is the greatest ability,” and Nico’s made just 7 Serie A appearances this year and only 2 starts.

I’m definitely not advocating to sell Nicolás González here. He’s Fiorentina’s best attacker by a mile: he’s averaging 0.87 goals + assists per 90 minutes, which is far and away the best of the forwards on the roster this year, and has already scored a pair of dramatic late goals this season off the bench. Especially with Arthur Cabral set to miss some time, Nico is a (the) crucial part of this attack.

And maybe he ends up sticking around. We’ve heard a lot of different stories about whether Leicester have actually made an offer, so there’s no way to know for sure what’s going on there. My guess is that Pietro’s latest report—that the Foxes have been in touch with González’ agent Alessandro Moggi—is the closest to the truth, but these things are so fluid that there’s no telling what’s actually the case at any given moment.

Getting a lot of money for a brilliant player who’s frequently out hurt feels like a decent piece of business, and Barone has proven that he’s excellent at maximizing the value of his stars when he’s negotiating sales. This isn’t just a business transaction, though, for the team or the fans. Losing Nico makes Fiorentina worse, especially since we haven’t seen the fully club reinvest the money from selling Federico Chiesa and Dušan Vlahović. For the supporters, too, it’d be devastating to lose the club’s best attacker and possibly best overall player for the third year running, and in January for the second time in a row.

In a vacuum, then, selling Nico for this kind of money makes sense. But against a background of the Viola constantly losing their best players without adequately replacing them, it turns to ashes in the mouth. Unless Barone and Daniele Pradè turn around and invest the entire €34 million in another star winger, this is the kind of move that will send a fan base into rebellion or, worse yet, despair.