The inevitable has happened again for “La Viola” – another top talent sold to rivals Juventus.
The news was just made official. Joint leading Serie A scorer Dušan Vlahović has joined “The Old Lady” for 70 million euros plus up to 10 million in bonuses. The Serb signed the contract on the same day that he turned 22.
Waiting for the “Capocannoniere” contender in Turin are two other former Fiorentina players, Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi completed the same move over the last few seasons. With the “Bianconeri” sitting just outside of the top 4, Vlahovic’s signing will be a boost to their Champions League hopes.
The Fiorentina ultras were far from happy at the prospect of seeing another top talent sold to their rivals from Turin. They sent a scathing letter attacking patron Rocco Commisso and director Joe Barone. With that in mind, the question now is, how will Fiorentina deal with the loss of their leading scorer?
Fiorentina chasing European spots
This has been the Tuscan’s best season since 2015/16, when they finished 5th. Since then, they have finished outside of the European places in each of the past five seasons. Currently sitting in 7th, they are on track to return to Europe for the first time since the 2016/17 campaign.
Having brought in Vincenzo Italiano in the summer to replace Beppe Iachini in the hot seat, things have been wonderful for Fiorentina supporters, seeing their side playing solid football, scoring some big wins in the process. Victories against Milan and Atalanta in the league along with success at Napoli in the Coppa Italia have been the biggest positives thus far.
At the time of writing the Florence club has scored 52 goals in 25 fixtures across all competitions, with Vlahović netting 20 while also adding two assists. No one else in the Fiorentina squad are in double digits in goal contributions at this point. It goes without saying that Vlahović’s presence will be sorely missed.
So, what have “La Viola” done since their now-former striker’s departure? At the start of the month, they brought in former Genoa and Milan man Krystof Piątek on loan from Hertha Berlin. This was done in anticipation of losing their No. 9. The Polish gunslinger has already found the back of the net in his short time in Florence.
Piątek is not the only front man brought in. Jonathan Ikoné was brought in from Lille, though the Frenchman is more of a winger. The other striker brought in during this transfer window hails from Brazil, with Arthur Cabral making the move from Swiss side FC Basel. With 27 goals and 8 assists in 31 official matches for Basel this season, it will be interesting to see how the 23-year-old will fill such massive shoes (literally and figuratively).
As for changes in the Fiorentina tactics, some of that was already seen in their last match in the “Derby dell’Appennino” at Bologna. Vlahović missed the match due to Covid, with Piątek getting the nod up front. In many of their matches this season, the Tuscans would try to find the Serb as quickly as possible. Due to his physical presence, center backs struggled marking him and taking the ball off of him.
Fewer balls were played in to Piątek in the Bologna match, with the Pole looking off the pace in his maiden start. It will be intriguing to see what will happen when Cabral gets his chance in the starting 11. It is quite possible the Brazilian will get his first start next weekend when Lazio come to the Artemio Franchi.
In what has been the best season in Florence for several years, it is up to Vincenzo Italiano’s side to keep up the amazing performances in their fight for European football. It may have become more difficult, but there are still several top players to keep the Tuscany side in the fight.
Expect a frosty response from the “tifosi” when Vlahović and Juventus come to the Franchi on the last matchday of the season. Should one or both sides still be in contention for Champions League or another European place, expect things to be even more heated between the two.