Fiorentina has a winger problem. With Nicolás González out injured, the remaining 4 wide attackers on the roster—Jonathan Ikoné, Riccardo Sottil, Christian Kouamé, and Josip Brekalo—have scored 7 goals between them. Italiano has spoken about his desire to get more goals from these guys, especially with the strikers misfiring as well. With the winter transfer market officially open, he could get that player in the form of Jan-Niklas Beste.
The 24-year-old (whose birthday is in a couple days) has led newly-promoted Heidenheim to an astonishing 9th place in its first-ever Bundesliga campaign, scoring 5 goals and adding 7 assists. While he’s significantly outperforming the underlying numbers, he’s clearly making a massive impact.
Beste’s best attribute is his ball-striking, whether that’s shooting, crossing, or passing. Primarily left-footed, he’s good enough to score from outside the box with his right as well. He’s got the necessary pace to play out wide in the modern game and he’s clever finding space for himself, but his ability to hit the ball is what really stands out about him.
He usually plays on the left of a 4-4-2, which means he’s got multiple targets to aim at when he’s out wide, but also has the freedom to move inside and shoot if the opportunity presents itself. Heidenheim is primarily a counterattacking team, so he’s usually attacking into space rather than breaking down a deep block, but he’s also played fullback so he’s comfortable with doing the defensive work as well.
He’s taken a circuitous route to the top tier of the German game. Rejected by Borussia Dortmund at 18, he moved to Werder Bremen but never broke into the senior team, instead taking a couple of loan moves away, first to Emmen in the Netherlands then to Regensburg in the 2 Bundesliga before Heidenheim snapped him up for less than a million euros, and he responded with 12 goals and 12 assists in their promotion season.
In Florence, he’d likely take over the left wing spot, allowing González to play exclusively on the right with Ikoné and Sottil as backups, especially while Kouamé’s with Côte d’Ivoire at AFCON. His crossing and potency on the break would complement Nico quite well and preserve the team’s width on the left.
There should be a roster spot for him with Josip Brekalo on the way out, and his reported price tag of €15 million shouldn’t scare anyone off. In fact, Marco Conterio claims that Daniele Pradè has already been in touch with Heidenheim about the player, which could mean that the Viola DS is changing up his usual January-agnostic transfer policy.
If the move happens, hopefully it’ll be soon. Especially with Kouamé already gone, the Viola look very thin on the wings with González injured. Getting the hirsute German in the mix could be just the sort of affordable move that helps Fiorentina maintain its Champions League chase.