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Nenad Tomović needs to be himself - in small doses

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As part of our player previews section, we take a look at the now elder statesman defender, who will ideally spend the season as a reliable backup

Juventus FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Serbian defender Nenad Tomović arrived as part of the 2012 revolution as a smart but unexciting signing - a journeyman who had been in Serie A since 2009 serving as mainly a backup with Genoa and Lecce, Tomović is a competent, well rounded defender who can play both right back and center back, and was mainly brought in for the former role. He offers minimal attacking upside but has respectable on the ball skills and is willing to put in work, combined with his genuine love of living in Florence has meant that Tomović has unexpectedly now spent the bulk of his pro career with Fiorentina.

Unfortunately we have since then seen more of Nenad than many of us have liked over the years. Ideally a rotation player, Tomović is Serie A quality but has been exposed against better teams, especially when forced to play too much. And “too much” has frequently been every season since he has arrived - averaging 25 games a season, it seems Tomović somehow ends up the starting right back (or right defender in a 3 man defense) every year, as more dynamic wing back prospects have failed to stick and the alternative, first Facundo Roncaglia and then Carlos Salcedo, failed to claim the position for themselves, as both had a combination of suspensions, injuries, and discontent which has allowed Tomović to regain the trust of Vincenzo Montella and then Paulo Sousa.

Now with Stefano Pioli, his third coach with Fiorentina, Tomović is yet again expected to start the season as the backup right back. New signing Bruno Gaspar has been purchased with the expectations of being able to contribute more to the attack, and it would be a major boost to this team if he can adapt to Italy successfully - which would mean relegating Tomović to the bench for important games.

It may be harsh to say the best case scenario for Tomović is for him to play less games than he has in the past four seasons, but an upgrade on the right back position would be very nice, even if it comes at the expense of a loyal soldier. Players like Tomović are still important - the fact that he survived the black hole that has been the fullback position at Fiorentina is to his credit, and every team needs an average, utility defender to plug in holes.

So while I hope to see significantly less Nenad Tomovic this year, he still has a role to play. If he can sustain his level while enabling Gaspar to ease his way into Serie A, it will be good for everyone.