Maxi Olivera has been locked in as Fiorentina’s first-choice leftback since Hrvoje Milić was sold to Olympiacos, but his promotion has hardly been met with unbridled joy by the Viola faithful. The Uruguayan’s debut season in purple wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but neither did he set the world alight. Perhaps the most damning indictment on him is that he lost time to Milić, who is the most anonymous defender Fiorentina have had in quite some time.
On the other hand, there are several reasons to believe that Maxi will improve. First of all, he’s now had a full season to settle in with his new team and get acclimated to life in Italy. Second, a switch from wingback to fullback should help him, as his shortcomings going forward won’t be nearly as obvious. Third, he’s a good player: remember that he was the player of the year in Uruguay two years ago and is just 25 years old.
That said, the Viola need to bring in another leftback, as Olivera’s only backup is 18-year-old Luca Ranieri, who’s never played at a level above the Primavera. Too, Fiorentina have always had a platoon at leftback, going back to the days of Massimo Gobbi and Manuel Pasqual.
Either way, though, Olivera is comforting in a lot of ways because you know exactly what you’ll get with him. He’s a solid tackler with enough athleticism to keep up with most wingers, and he’s got a penchant for spectacular blocks and clearances in the area. He’s less impressive in attack, although he’ll gamely motor forward for 90 minutes. While he won’t do a lot of amazing things, he won’t make many mistakes, either, and we’re happy with that.