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OFFICIAL: Fiorentina snap up Lucas Beltrán

The striker finally signs on the line for the Viola, bringing a lot of hype and a contender for best nickname in Serie A.

River Plate v Racing - Liga Profesional 2023 Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

That breeze you just felt was thousands of Viola fans sighing in relief as Fiorentina finally confirmed the signing of Lucas Beltrán. River Plate will receive a hefty €20 million fee for his services, with the 22-year-old signing a contract until 2028 that will pay him €1.8 million a year. As an added bonus, his Italian ancestry means he won’t occupy a non-EU spot on the roster.

While Fiorentina was always in pole position to sign the striker, AS Roma made a late attempt to hijack the deal, reportedly offering a higher wage and larger agent fee but a smaller fee to River. Despite chatting with Paulo Dybala, Beltrán ultimately chose Florence as his next home, where he’ll link up with former teammate Lucas Martínez Quarta.

It’s easy to see why the Giallorossi wanted Beltrán. He tallied 12 goals and 3 assists for los Millonarios last year (a goal or assist every 91 minutes) and has 3 and 1 in the Copa Libertadores this year. After years working his way through the youth ranks (he made a senior debut at 17) and a 2-year loan spell at Atletico Colón, he looks ready for the next step.

While he’s not tall (176 cm/5’9), he uses his tremendous lower body strength to good effect, bouncing off defenders and quickly changing direction with a low center of gravity. He’s quick enough to trouble opponents in behind but excels at receiving a ball into feet, rolling his man, and driving forward. In the box, he’s clever with his movement, knifing in front of his marker to reach crosses and finishing with either foot.

He’s not a perfect player, of course, and his adjustment to Serie A could take a little while. After all, we’re talking about a 22-year-old moving away from home for the first time and to another country (and continent) with a new language. Apart from the natural turbulence of settling in, he seems much better on the counter than against a deep defense; it may take him a while to learn the precise movements to make space for himself against teams packing 9 bodies into the penalty area.

Even so, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Beltrán. He’s got all the athletic and statistical indicators of a good striker and, with M’Bala Nzola and Luka Jović in the fold, Vincenzo Italiano won’t ask him to do too much too soon. Instead, we should hope that El Vikingo (already on the shortlist of Serie A’s best nicknames) focuses on getting his feet under him, while the fans focus on the long term rather than the short.

The sky’s the limit for Lucas Beltrán, and it’ll be fun to watch him reach for it. Bienvenido, Vikingo.