The rumor mill continues to churn with its usual vigor, spitting out names like Rafael Toloi, Davide Astori, Rolando, and Nikola Maksimovic. The most likely right now, though, is Tottenham Hotspur defender Vlad Chiriches.
The 25 year old Romanian center-back has interested Fiorentina for the past couple years -- with Tottenham interested in Josip Ilicic, the center-back has been mooted as a possible makeweight in a theoretical swap deal. There are also reports of Fiorentina making a stand-alone offer of 7 million euros from both Italian and English media.
Chiriches is a versatile player, capable of playing right-back or even in the midfield if needed, though he's far, far better in central defense. He's already been capped 32 times, and wore the captain's armband in Romania's Euro qualifier against the Faroe Islands. He hasn't found the same success at the club level, though, since he moved from Steua Bucharesti in 2012, making just 8 Premier League starts for Spurs last year. After missing a number of games in the previous couple of seasons, he avoided injury this past season, but still struggled for regular minutes under a new manager.
Not an overpowering physical presence, Chiriches seems to rely and anticipation and timing to do the job. For a centerback, he's both quick over short distances and fairly fast in the open field. Going by WhoScored.com's analysis, he seems to be a better version of Nenad Tomovic -- hard to believe, I know, but bear with me.
A defender who's adept at winning the ball, both via tackle and interception, and has pretty good pace and limited aerial prowess seems like a natural fit in a high defensive line, though hilariously disastrous evidence from his time at Tottenham would suggest otherwise. Whereas the dearly departed Stevan Savic was more of a penalty box defender and sweeper, Chiriches is, like Gonzalo Rodriguez, more proactive -- though that's not necessarily a good thing in his case. Maybe Fiorentina's coaching could fix his problems? One can only hope.
With links to athletic defenders, the addition of mobile destroyer Mario Suarez, and the signing of sweeper-keeper Luigi Sepe, it seems more and more likely that Paulo Sousa intends to play a high defensive line and press opponents in the midfield. That's certainly an attractive way of playing, if a risky one. Let's just hope it works out.