If you asked Fiorentina fans who the most transfer-tempting player in their possession was last season, not many would have put his name top of the list. The majority might have suggested the most obvious - Federico Chiesa - a souped-up Ferrari of a footballer. Others could have pointed you in the direction of their bulldozing defensive 4x4 - Nikola Milenkovic. Few were likely to have taken you towards Jordan Veretout - the reliable but rather unspectacular people-carrier at the back of the showroom.
And yet, somehow or another, he has become an object of considerable desire this summer. How on earth did that happen?
It started with a kiss - or a blessing at least - from the league which has become the King Midas of the continent, the English Premiership. Everything it touches, it seems, turns into a bucket of cash. Reports of interest from Arsenal - a club not short of famous French employees down the years - added kudos to the 26-year-old’s credentials. Little did it matter that he carried the inevitable “Aston Villa flop” epithet added by the British tabloids. He was in pretty good company in that regard, anyway, for anyone who remembers those other former Viola - “Bolton reject” Marcos Alonso and “West Brom dud” Borja Valero.
After the attraction from north of the Channel came desirous glances from closer to his adopted Tuscan home. Milan, Roma and Napoli have all reputedly cast covetous eyes in his direction. Not a bad trio of suitors for such an apparently unglamourous individual.
It was certainly clear from pretty early on this summer that he would not be staying in Florence beyond his second season. The transfer rumblings were confirmed by the club's returning sporting director Daniele Prade, who said the midfielder had asked to leave due to his desire to play at a higher level. Such chat did not make him the darling of the pre-season training camp in Moena when he somewhat reluctantly turned up. We never really loved you anyway, was the message from his former fans.
But why, exactly, are others so keen on him?
You really have to rewind a season to get a picture of what he might deliver at the heart of a team. The last campaign was a tough one for everyone at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and Veretout was no exception, with most of his key stats taking a knock. He was moved further from goal for tactical reasons and that reduced his attacking threat as well. But, overall, he still remained a decent performer in a struggling side.
In the previous year, however, he was one of the brightest new additions to a team which had been widely rejuvenated. He was dependable, deadly from his set-pieces and had what football followers love to call a good engine. It was rarely all that flashy, but this is the kind of player you can build a good side around.
Indeed, you can see that reliability as his biggest selling point for all the teams reputedly interested. He is a known quantity in Serie A and at a price that will not have to break the bank. For somewhere about €25m you will be getting a solid addition to your side who won't let you down.
That might not sound all that spectacular and it is probably doing him a bit of a disservice. Even in a poor Viola side he never gave anything less than his all and had a touch of quality about him too. He would tackle hard and cover back, for sure, but he could also ping a decent pass or two and help kick-start a telling counter-attack. He is cool from the penalty spot and takes a fine free kick as well. A good all-rounder, if you will.
That kind of player will always be enticing to Coaches as, although he might not grab the headlines, he will give your team good shape and a solid foundation. For that reason it is not so surprising that any number of clubs are having a look. And, after the reception he got from his own fans pre-season, he will certainly be hoping their interest turns into a concrete offer soon.
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