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VN Brain Trust: Which players have to stay for next year?

The Viola Nation staff discusses which of the current squad members should form the key group for 2021-2022.

The Eyes Have It...
Pretty much us.
Photo by CBS via Getty Images

Every couple of weeks, the Viola Nation writers get together to hash out the answers to the most important Fiorentina questions. Here’s what we talked about this week.

Which current Fiorentina players are untouchable for next year?

NickyNutella: To answer this question I think it’s best to look at team’s like Lazio and Atalanta as references on how you climb the Serie A table and into the UCL. Year-over-year they kept the spine of the team intact and brought in certain players to help. The spine of our team that needs to remain intact are Bartłomiej Drągowski, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Sofyan Amrabat, Gaetano Castrovilli, Cristiano Biraghi and Dušan Vlahović. The vast majority of these players are young and familiar playing together. I consider these the untouchables right now. Obviously I didn’t include the Mountain in this list because unfortunately he seems as good as gone at the moment. There are definitely other players I’d like to keep, but none that I’d qualify as untouchable.

Mike: This is very tough to answer without understanding the identity of the club moving forward and who is running it. The past two years Fiorentina has prioritized older players in the mercato and it’s percentage of wages. Clearly, this has not worked. For the sake of this topic I will assume as a club we have learned from the recent past and we are ready to change.

DUSAN VLAHOVIC! I have said for some time now that the club must be built around Dusan ever since Benedict Arnold, I mean Federico Chiesa, left for the Evil Empire. Fiorentina should not mess around with Dusan, offering €1.2 million a year, and jump right up to the €4 million a year Ribery makes. Haaland earns about €9 million a year. Dusan is not one seventh Haaland. Even at €4 million we are asking him to take less than half of Haaland, but his love for the city, the fans and club may be enough to get this done.

After Dusan, a quality team must be built around him. Bart is a top 5 goalkeeper, he stays and becomes top 3 next year. Stalwarts, Igor and LMQ should be backbone of our backline, but require two new backs on each side. Amrabat needs support in midfield, should stay, but is NOT untouchable. Castrovilli should move to an Attacking Midfield role, using his strengths each and every day. Castrovilli should be considered untouchable if used as an AM.

The only untouchables are Dusan, Dragowski, LMQ, Igor and Castrovilli (only if moved to AM). The bigger hope is that we find 3-4 more untouchable players in this upcoming mercato.

Ben: When I say “have to stay” this is all under the assumption that no team drops a ridiculous bid for any of our players. I don’t think there’s a single player on this team right now that I wouldn’t let leave for €60 million. However, there are a select few that clearly have the potential to be part of the core in a team next season which theoretically will be challenging for a spot in the Europa League.

The first, of course, is Bartłomiej Drągowski. Having a solid goalkeeper is a privilege that’s only really appreciated when that’s not the case, and Bart establishing himself as one of the better goalkeepers in this league has been a bright spot this season. I fully expect him to be the long-term replacement for Wojciech Szczęsny in the Polish set-up.

Moving forwards, I think LMQ and Igor both fit into the modern game so well that they must be considered integral parts of the club next year as maybe Serie A’s most skilled defensive duo. There hasn’t been a single midfielder this year who has been good enough for me to include on this list, although I’d be against selling Gaetano Castrovilli if not for the fact that I think his value will be much higher in a year.

Finally, Vlahovic has somehow netted a dozen goals in a season where he looked horrible for the first ten matches of the year and still operates in a system where he doesn’t get as much service as he should. Spend big on a player to play off him next summer, and I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t net 20 or 25 and we could then sell him for €80 million. I’ll also give a shout-out to Lorenzo Venuti as a quality glue guy and academy graduate.

Tito: The sextet of Bartłomiej Drągowski, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Igor, Sofyan Amrabat, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Dušan Vlahović. These guys are all under 24 and all seem to fit pretty well into an up-tempo tactical system based on pressing and quick transitions, so it makes a lot of sense for Fiorentina to build around them. That does mean that the club will need to be very proactive in extending their contracts (not always Daniele Pradè’s specialty), but assuming Nikola Milenković is already on the outs, I think that these six are the best options.

I’d add that there’s a second tier of players who I’d very much like to see return but who aren’t untouchable if a big offer comes in or if they want out: Pietro Terracciano, Germán Pezzella, Martín Cáceres, Lorenzo Venuti, Erick Pulgar, Giacomo Bonaventura, Tòfol Montiel, and Christian Kouamé are also definitely worth keeping around (although that latter pair could maybe do with a loan elsewhere before rejoining the squad). That makes 14 players who I actively want to see play for Fiorentina next year, which sets up the mercato to be very busy, very disappointing, or both.

Trevor: First off, I only hope that Daniele Pradè will not be the man making the decisions about who stays and who arrives. We also need to see what, if any, new manager comes in. That being said, I have to start with our keeper. Bartłomiej Drągowski has come in for some criticism lately, which to me is totally uncalled for. He has saved us on multiple occasions this season, and will only get better and become one of the top goalkeepers in Italian football. Nikola Milenković, yes I know it looks more than likely that he is on the way out, but if you’re asking me who I want to stay, then this top class, young defender is a must for me. Gaetano Castrovilli is an obvious choice, and while not always at his best this season, this is a player who is going to become a word class player and he’s such a joy to watch. I’m also going to stick with another player who has not been everyone’s favourite of late, our captain, Germán Pezzella. I think he can still be a good leader for this team and I would be very sorry to see him leave. Martinez Quarta, looks so good already and definitely one we should make a part of our future. Lastly, a player who I haven’t always been impressed with. For me it was more his attitude, towards the end of last season and at the start of the current campaign. But if Cesare Prandelli has done one thing right, it has been putting Dušan Vlahović back on the right track. He now looks confident, and is giving so much more to the team, aside from his goals.