Florence and the talent machine: The players who left Fiorentina in broad strokes

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Each league seems to have the teams that just produce talent on a seemingly non-stop basis before these players are inevitably picked out by the bigger boys.

In Germany you can not move to form Schalke or Stuttgart players. There are Lyon and Monaco in France, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in Spain, Southampton and Aston Villa in England.

In Italy, the team is probably Fiorentina, who appear to be in the same position once again, as La Viola is reportedly on the verge of selling star striker Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus for a deal believed to be in the region of € 75 million.

Stats Perform takes a look at some of the biggest names in Italian football who made a name for themselves with the team from Tuscany and what they continued to achieve in the game.

Roberto Baggio

After starting his career at Vicenza, The Divine Hestehale’s move to Fiorentina saw his star rise as he spent five impressive years in the purple shirt.

But after helping Fiorentina to the UEFA Cup final in 1990, only to be defeated over two ill-tempered legs by their big rivals Juventus, salt was largely rubbed into the wounds of fans as Bianconeri paid a then-world record fee to tag Baggio.

Reports claimed fans were throwing bricks, chains and Molotov cocktails at Fiorentina’s headquarters, and in the two days after the transfer was announced, club president Flavio Pontello sought refuge at the stadium with 50 injuries and nine arrests recorded.

Baggio would only further improve his reputation at Juve, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993 before securing a league and cup double two years later, scoring 115 goals in 200 appearances across five seasons before moving to Milan, where he won another Scudetto in his first year.

After being rejected by Fabio Capello at the San Siro in 1997, Baggio had an impressive season in Bologna, scoring a personal best of 22 league goals before moving back to the city of Milan with Inter.

Things did not work out for Nerazzurri, but he continued to enjoy the last four seasons of Serie A with Brescia, reaching double digits in each campaign before retiring in 2004.

Gabriel Batistuta

There is without a doubt no more iconic player in Fiorentina’s history. A striker that football fans of a certain age remember remembering to score on Sunday afternoon in the nineties.

Unlike most of the players on this list, Batistuta actually spent most of his career in Fiorentina, where he stayed for nine years before moving to Roma with big money.

The man affectionately known as ‘Batigol’ remains the club’s record goal scorer with 159 goals in 198 games, although it helps on his record that people like Vlahovic are usually sold before they can come close to the total number.

Although he had won a Coppa Italia, Batistuta wanted a Scudetto and moved to Roma in 2000 to get it. It was the highest fee ever paid for a player over 30, a record that stood until Leonardo Bonucci moved to Milan from Juventus in 2017.

It seemed like a justified move as Batistuta scored 20 goals, including netting against his former club, on his way to winning the title in his first season in the Italian capital, but was unable to reach those heights again, scoring only 11 over the following season and a half before a transfer to Inter.

Rui Costa

The Portuguese maestro had made a name for himself at Benfica before moving to Italy in 1994, making 230 seven-year appearances with La Viola and winning two Coppa Italia titles.

But like Batistuta, Rui Costa was moved on for big money to try to help the club’s finances, ending up in Milan for a then club record fee of around £ 35 million.

Rui Costa spent five years at the San Siro, where he won six trophies, including the Champions League in 2003 and Scudetto a year later. He moved back to Benfica in 2006 after the arrival of Kaka so his minutes reduced.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi came through the youth ranks at Fiorentina and great things were expected of him when he broke onto the stage after an impressive loan spell at Crotone in Serie B in the 2013-14 season.

During three years on the first team, Bernardeschi scored 23 goals in 93 games and recorded 11 assists, which unfortunately for Viola fans saw old enemies Juve come in again.

He has won three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in Turin, as well as being part of the Italian squad that won the rescheduled Euro 2020 last year.

Bernardeschi, who has scored only 11 times in 170 appearances for Juve, remains largely a squad under Massimiliano Allegri, in part because of this next man …

Federico Chiesa

Another Fiorentina youth product, Chiesa had all eyes on him as soon as he broke through due to being the son of former Viola and Italy striker Enrico Chiesa.

Chiesa Jr. made his first-team debut, somewhat ironically, against Juve at the age of 18, and over the next few years he began to establish himself as the club’s potential future.

Chiesa was more suited to play wide than his father, who was a traditional central striker, scoring 34 goals and 19 assists in 153 games at Fiorentina, but it is his tenacity, pace and skill that sets him apart.

That was enough to tempt – yes, you guessed it – Juve to take and take him on a two-year loan, with a commitment to make it permanent at the end of the current campaign.

Chiesa had an impressive first season at Juve, including scoring the winning goal in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, before starring for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, scoring twice in seven appearances and reaching the tournament team.

He started 2021-22 in sharp form, only for a serious knee injury to end his season early.

There should also be honorable mentions for people like Luca Toni, whose rise at Fiorentina gave him a lucrative move to Bayern Munich, and Francesco Toldo – he was sold to Inter at the same time as Costa was packed off to Milan to ease the club’s debt . .

Juan Cuadrado (now at Juventus) and Marcos Alonso were both sold to Chelsea for decent money two years apart, while Felipe Melo (Juventus), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) and Matias Vecino (Inter) continued Fiorentina’s philosophy of buying low and sell high.

The well-trodden path out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi has often led to bigger and better things, and that bodes well for Vlahovic, now that he looks set to be the next in line.

He seems to have all the tools to be the star striker that this current, rather gloomy, edition of Bianconeri requires. In fact, Vlahovic’s 33 goals in Serie A last season matched the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in 2020.

It may be hard to take (again) for Viola fans, but if the story is anything to go by, their next hero will not be far away.

Of course, he will probably also sign for Juve in the end, but it will just be a matter of crossing the Ponte Vecchio when they get to it.





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