Fiorentina Club Focus: The rebirth of a forgotten Italian
Fiorentina continued their impressive start to their Serie A season by easily disposing of Genoa by a 5-2 scoreline last Sunday. The headlines after the match all centred around the Viola’s high profile strikeforce, as both Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi bagged braces to keep the Florence side on full points after two matches.
While this duo will no doubt garner much attention throughout the campaign, the Viola have shown under Vincenzo Montella that they are made up of more than just a few big names. Amongst those is an Italian international who has found a new lease on his footballing career with the Gigliati after several seasons in the shadows of Italian football.
Enter Alberto Aquilani.
The Rome native opened the scoring at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday and followed his headed goal with another solid performance in the heart of the Viola midfield. Aquilani finished the match with an 88% pass completion on 52 passes (4th on the team vs. Genoa), underlying his role as a key cog in Montella’s beauty-over-brawn midfield. His rebirth has often gone unnoticed in Florence, with non-fans of the club still often referring to him as the ‘Liverpool flop’. Those days appear to be gone however, as Aquilani’s form and health have improved to the point where he is now being regularly called up to the Italian national team by Cesare Prandelli.
When Fiorentina brought him in from Liverpool after loan spells at both AC Milan and Juventus the signing was met with little fanfare throughout Italy. In fact, the Rossoneri went so far as to keep him out of their lineup towards the end of the 2011/12 season in order to not activate a clause that would have forced the Milan club to sign him. As a result Fiorentina came in and rescued him from Anfield in a move that many observers were skeptical of as Aquilani and his stagnating career was joining a Viola side that was in the thick of a massive rebuild.
While moderate results were expected, the work of Montella has revitalized the midfielder and he has been given a new lease on his career. Despite not having the fluidity of veteran David Pizarro or the dynamism of Borja Valero the Italian international has managed to carve out a key role for himself as a reliable playmaker in the Viola’s free flowing brand of football.
Without the pressure of being one of Italy’s midfielders of the future (a tag he long shared with Daniele De Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo), Aquilani is finally playing as though the brunt of those expectations are no longer weighing him down. After finishing last season with seven goals and six assists Viola fans can only hope that Sunday’s headed goal against Genoa is a sign of things to come this season. The same goes for Aquilani himself, as he will be hoping his good form continues as it would mean a place on Italy’s World Cup squad next summer, his first major international tournament (Confederations Cup aside) since Euro 2008.
Transfer Market Roundup
Thankfully we said goodbye to another transfer window as the summer market closed on September 2. The Viola opted for a quiet close to the window, opting to stay with Neto as their starting goalkeeper despite the call from fans and pundits for a more experienced signing. With most of their work done early (which I looked at in depth in the season’s preview) the side that will take Montella through to January has been in place for awhile now.
With Gomez being the prized signing of the summer, we have already gotten a glimpse of what to look forward to after his brace against Genoa last Sunday. Massimo Ambrosini was included in the starting lineup as well and impressed as Montella opted for a more compact midfield due to Juan Cuadrado being unfit to start the match. Others (Josip Ilicic, Oleksandr Iakovenk, Marcos Alonso Ante Rebic, Marko Bakic) have not yet been given extended run outs as of yet but will no doubt be seen once club football gets back into the swing of things after the international break.
As for the departures, the loss of Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic may have sent Viola fans into a panic last summer, but their departures are much easier to digest given the great position the club currently find themselves in. With both sales bringing in a healthy return to the Gigliati’s coffers, it is safe to say that fans are quite happy to look to the future given what Montella and the side have shown on the pitch.
However, one departure that has garnered little attention but should be pointed out is the sale of Haris Seferovic to Real Sociedad. After a successful loan spell with Novara last season it’s hard to understand why the Viola were so keen to let him go, especially for €2.3 million. It is a miscue that the club certainly hopes will not come back to bite them. However, given the wonder goal he scored for the Spanish side against Lyon in their Champions League qualifier, my fear is that it may very well prove to be a painful oversight.
Follow Adriano Boin on Twitter: @Boin44