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Is this Khouma Babacar’s final chance?

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The home grown striker has proven ability to score goals in limited minutes, but continues to fail to secure a starting spot. This season could be his best - and final - opportunity to change that.

ACF Fiorentina v Pescara Calcio - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

As of writing this, Nikola Kalinić remains a Fiorentina player, although it looks increasingly likely he is on his way out, to be replaced by Giovanni Simeone.

Either way, it appears Khouma Babacar is once again regulated to the backup role; if Cholito is purchased, it also makes Babacar the elder statesman of the teams goal scoring forward squad. At 24, this role continues to be disappointing for a player that was once the crown jewel of the Fiorentina youth system. The Senegalese striker made his first team debut in the 2009/2010 season under Cesare Prandelli, and was widely expected to be the future of Fiorentina alongside Federico Bernardeschi.

This is not to say Babacar hasn’t proven himself to have quality - he scored 10 goals in 20 matches, often with limited minutes in a substitue role. Although he got more opportunities than in previous seasons, he still had to fight for time, and finished the season with a much better goals per minute ratio than Kalinić, now worth around €25M.

The problem is, although Babacar is an incredibly talented finisher, the development of the rest of his game has been lacking - away from scoring opportunities he has struggled, and worse yet for a goal scorer, his positioning skills and ability to link up with teammates has been a consistent issue. If Babacar gets the ball around the box, he is almost guaranteed to score, but the problem is he struggles to get into that position, and continues to find himself isolated.

Last year’s Fiorentina struggled in general to create opportunities, but compared to Babacar, Kalinić - a flawed player in his own right, and one much more wasteful when it comes to opportunities - was able to at least find ways to generate chances through a combination of savy positioning skills and hard work.

Babacar had moments of brilliance, but he had just as many games where he was a non factor. I think I speak for many of us when I say there’s nobody I want to suceed more than Babacar - he’s talented, developed by Fiorentina, and seems to have a strong bond with Florence, becoming well known for his involvement in the city’s African community.

If Fiorentina ends up signing Simeone, an even younger striker, it would cast doubt on Babacar’s future, but the competition might be good for him - unlike some of the other veteran strikers on this team before, the Argentine is not a finished product himself and has to develop a more well rounded game, which means the two of them have similar issues to work on. If Fiorentina ends up sticking with Kalinić or another veteran, than Babacar is once again on his own with a need to prove that he is ready to take over the role for himself.

This could be his last chance. As of now, the squad continues to lack finishers and so Babacar should at a minimum get as many chances as he did last year. He needs to build on his results last year - as impressive a finisher as he has proven to be, he needs to show there is more to him than that to thrive in modern football.