January 25, 2022

Serie A – Empoli – Fiorentina: Dusan Vlahovic, a future of giant

From Stevan Jovetic to Ernesto Chevantón. From Mirko Vučinić to Fabrizio Miccoli. Or Valeri Bojinov, Cristian Ledesma … In addition to a common past in Serie A, all these players also have one man in common: Pantaleo Corvino. His name may not tell you anything, but he is one of the greatest talent scouts in Italian football. Passed in particular through the offices of Lecce, Bologna or Fiorentina, the 71-year-old leader never got tired of finding finds. And especially attackers. One of his last? A certain Dusan Vlahovic, recruited one day in 2017 from Partizan Belgrade for 1.5 million euros. He was then general manager of Fiorentina.

I even paid in advance to beat all the competition, he told Tuttosport in June. I admit it, I was a little worried after signing it. We were in a hotel room. His father noticed it then, and said to me: “Director, I am sure that you have just brought the new Batistuta back to Florence”. I looked at his mother and said, “Damn, I thought I took the new Luca Toni”. We all laughed together. “And yet … Four years later, Dusan Vlahovic is doing better than” Batigol “and Toni combined.” It’s a mix of the two“, Corvino often likes to say during his interviews with the transalpine media.

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With 27 goals scored over the whole of 2021, the Serbian striker has already surpassed his two illustrious predecessors. The first had stopped at 23 in 1998, while the second had scored one more (24) over the entire year 2006. Kurt Roland Hamrin, him, counted 25 in 1959 and 27 in 1960. Vlahovic thus arrived at his height. Before probably overtaking him, perhaps this Saturday in the derby against Empoli (3 p.m.).

Zlatan, between idol and comparison

Arrived on tiptoe in Florence, the native of Belgrade today makes more noise than the bells of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. After passing through the Primavera (reserve team composed mainly of young players), where he scored 19 goals in 31 matches during the 2018-2019 season, Vlahovic is gradually sent to the first team. The first steps are discreet, even if it hardly goes unnoticed from the height of his meter 90 and his imposing physique. Then the playing time increases the following season. He scored his first two goals in Serie A on November 10, 2019 in a scathing defeat on the lawn of Cagliari (5-2). So nobody really cares about it. Yet it is the blossoming of a talent. He ended his first full season just under the ten-goal mark (9). Before becoming, last season, the first player born in 2000 to score at least twenty goals (21) in Serie A. This time, the explosion is total and violent. She even takes away her inconstancy, which was often singled out in Italy. Cesare Prandelli, his former coach at the Viola between November 2020 and March 2021, has a lot to do with it.

Powerful and determined striker: meet Vlahovic, Serbian Zlatan Ibrahimovic

I will never forget everything you have done for me and I will never stop thanking you “, writes Vlahovic then to the one who gave him consistency and confidence. Everything he needed to accomplish himself, on and off the pitch. A mental click that allows him, today, to be the top scorer in Serie A with Ciro Immobile (10 goals each). But also to be considered, as much for his technique, his gestures or his size, the worthy successor of his idol Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “He’s a great champion, one of the best strikers and I still have a long way to go to get closer to his level, he procrastinated, however, in an interview with Telegraph this week (…) He is a great example for everything he has done and his longevity. Me, I try to continue my course, to work as much as possible, to improve it and to obtain the best possible results, hoping to get as close as possible to its level in the future..”

From a technical and physical point of view, it has no flaws

For many Italian observers, or even former players, the Fiorentina striker is not far from being the best in Serie A at the moment. “For us, this is already the case, and too bad for Zlatan, Immobile and company, wrote The Gazzetta dello Sport after his double against Atalanta Bergamo at the start of the season. He shoots two penalties perfectly, remains the benchmark of the attack and occupies all areas of the field (…) Then the icing on the cake, two dribbles in a pocket handkerchief at the end of the match and knocked back. This championship will be that of his advent. He is only 21 years old and he is a potential phenomenon.”

From a technical and physical point of view, he has no flaws, believes Dario Dainelli, former Fiorentina defender. He has a lot of strings to his bow despite a physique that might remind Toni. Dusan varies a lot and attacks the depth. “Author of two goals against AC Milan (4-3) last Saturday, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Serbian international displayed all his qualities (ball protection, finish, variation of movements …) against the one it is inspired by.

A formal departure, but where?

For its part, Fiorentina therefore continues to benefit from one of the greatest talents in current football. But not for long. A time envisaged, an extension of his contract, which runs until 2023, has fallen into the water. The rather bitter Tuscan club confirmed this in a statement released last month. “All our efforts have not been rewarded (…) We take note of the will of the player and his entourage“, regretted Rocco Commisso, president of Viola. But what really happened? According to Sky Italia, the club’s proposal was as follows: salary of 3.5 million euros plus an” easy “bonus of 500,000 euros, release clause set at 80 million euros, with even an opening on the 2.5 million euros in commissions claimed by the player’s agents.

The deal definitely fell apart when the latter demanded the exclusive mandate for the sale of Vlahovic (at the time of his fixed clause) next year. But not that, since a demand of 5% on the final sale, if less than 80 million euros, has also been claimed, in addition to 80% on the capital gain made in the event of an amount exceeding 80 million. To put it simply: if Vlahovic had been sold for 100 million, agents would have received 20% of the additional 20 million euros. Unthinkable for Fiorentina, which then decided to stop the negotiations. Today, the player is therefore officially on sale, even if the date of his departure remains to be fixed.

Close to Atlético Madrid last summer, Vlahovic, who had to give it up in particular for the commissions claimed by his agents (8 million euros according to Sky), obviously interests all the biggest European teams. The Italian press speaks of an offer from Juventus in January around 50 million euros. AC Milan would also be interested, just like Bayern Munich, PSG, Tottenham or Manchester City. The price set for this winter would be 70 million euros. Yes, a diamond is for sale.

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