To describe Marco Benassi’s move to Fiorentina as a surprising would be a grave understatement. Florence has witnessed an exodus this summer, with key members departing in an apparent effort from the club’s management to streamline and monetize the squad. It caused Fiorentina fans to tremble in their boots at the mere thought of what might happen to them this coming season. A clear lack of ambition from a club content to settle in upper-mid table has seen them ship out two of their most important midfielders: Borja Valero and Matias Vecino.
Not only were they important, but Borja Valero was a fan favourite and Vecino was an immensely talented prospect who thrived at the heart of the Viola’s midfield.
Few would have predicted Benassi’s move from Torino to Florence. It was almost entirely under wraps up until murmurs of his confirmed transfer, and it was the best surprise Viola fans could wish for.
The Italy U-21 and Torino captain is a truly special prospect. His commandeering of both his national side and club outfit Torino at the tender age of just 22 speaks volumes of his leadership qualities and genuine star talent. Reports have suggested that Fiorentina’s Director of Football Pantaleo Corvino had been scouting the midfielder since he was 15.
Sinisa Mihajlovic’s trust in the young midfielder elevated him to a position to likely feature in the potential framework for future Azzurri squads, and his performances for both Italy and Torino drew interest from some of Serie A’s top teams. All of which makes his transfer to Fiorentina, a club lacking European football and coming off the back of one of their most disappointing seasons in recent history, even more incredible.
Vecino’s exit from Fiorentina came as no shock to fans. The Uruguayan was a fantastic central midfielder, and possessed excellent passing ability as well as a real penchant to drive at opposing teams. Incoming players in the form of Jordan Veretout and more recently Valentin Eysseric did little to excite Fiorentina fans. Eysseric was unspectacular in Nice’s third place Ligue 1 finish and Veretout’s average spell at Saint-Etienne didn’t do enough to merit Aston Villa making an effort to keep him.
However, in Benassi, Fiorentina have managed to sign a player as good as Vecino with the potential to be better - for a fraction of the price. Couple this with him being Italian and an important player for the U-21 national side, it propels this transfer from a mere consolation to a game-changer. With the fee standing at an astonishing €10m, Vecino’s sale to Inter for €24m indicates a level of transfer competence from the club not seen before during this window.
There has been very little for Fiorentina fans to get exited about this summer. Stop-gap transfers aimed at temporarily plugging positions in the side have done nothing to ease the stress in Florence, but Benassi’s signing has given fans hope and a glimpse of the future.