Fiorentina mean business this season. They have spent a reasonable sum of money on Gonzalo Rodriguez to improve their defence, and there has been even heavier investment in midfield with close to €20m paid for quality players. Now they are looking to one final purchase for a forward to spearhead their attack.
Except the player they are scouring the market for is sitting within their squad – a certain Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegrin has spent large parts of his career in Tuscany playing as a second striker, or out wide in a 4-3-3, and despite having spent time leading the line does not seem to have shaken off that positional label.
He is a far more complete forward than that and deserves to be recognised as such. His scoring record last season – 14 goals in 27 League appearances – suggests he is more than capable of being the primary goalscorer for the team if given the opportunity to do so on a regular basis.
Coach Vincenzo Montella spoke on Friday about “giving him a team for his characteristics,” and with the acquisition of several ball-playing midfielders there is a hint that he wants lots of ball to his feet in between the lines. That theory fits in with their pursuit of a striker, with Mounir El Hamdaoui seemingly not trusted to fill the role even though he impressed in three of the past four seasons in Holland.
But there is no reason why Jovetic cannot thrive in that position, especially with the players behind him. He already has the pace, clever movement and eye for goal you need, and now he has midfielders that can find him. Perhaps more importantly, he has proven he can do it in this League.
Their search looks like it is being conducted overseas, but in a transfer market where they are going to have to pay a lot of money for a guy with a decent pedigree, it seems strange they have not considered an in-house solution with a player that is likely to be better than who they bring in.
In Fiorentina teams gone by, if you moved Jovetic away from positions between the lines the team was left with no-one of sufficient ability to replace him. But that has been partially solved by the arrival of a number of midfielders that can step forward. They already had Adem Ljajic, who played this position in the Coppa Italia tie against Novara on Saturday and who has played there many times before, but now they have Matias Fernandez and Borja Valero – the latter fulfilled this duty at times for West Brom when he was in England – to bridge the quality gap.
None of the aforementioned will probably be as good as Jovetic there, but then he does not have to stand at the top like a prima punta. The role is not too dissimilar to what Giuseppe Rossi did for Italy under Cesare Prandelli, or if you want to take it to a grander scale, Lionel Messi for Barcelona. He can drop deep too and find that space again – with the type of midfielders they have bought this summer that level of interchange might be the better option for the team.
They might still need a striker for depth – after El Hamdaoui there is not a lot of tested options at the top level. But for that purpose they can set their sights much lower, save themselves money, and give Jovetic the leading role he deserves.