What with the youth movement underway in Florence, it’s easy to forget that Matías Fernández is still on the roster. The 31-year-old Chilean is the oldest man on the roster, after all, and Fiorentina has been trying to offload him for the past couple of years. That’s why it’s so surprising that this summer, they’ve turned down several offers form South America for him, paving the way for a triumphant Matigol return.
It’s easy to forget that Mati was the best player on the team in 2014. His tenacity and technique made him invaluable to Vincenzo Montella, but his habit of being hurt all the time scuppered him the following season, leading to a year on loan at Montella’s AC Milan last year. Despite the outrageously low €1 million fee to keep him in red and black stripes, the brain trust in Milan opted to let him go in favor of splashier moves this summer.
That could be Fiorentina’s gain, though, as Fernández has spent most of the preseason as the number ten while Riccardo Saponara, also no stranger to niggling injuries, works to regain fitness. The purple 14 has done enough to secure his spot in the squad, combining well with the midfield and driving forward to connect the wingers and strikers with the rest of the team, putting Stefano Pioli on notice.
He may not maintain that starting spot once the Cheese gets healthy, but Mati’s got the quality and experience to be a crucial part of this squad as a change of pace off the bench and a mentor to the host of youngsters on the roster. Even though that’s probably what we’ll see, we’re still going to hope for him to regain his full influence on matches and prove to all and sundry that he’s got plenty left in the tank. As they say, form and health are temporary, but class is permanent.