Vlahovic plays Father Christmas but parting gift for Fiorentina may not be far away | Serie A

Dusan Vlahovic completed off a weekend’s work by enjoying Father Christmas. He had already delivered two objectives for Fiorentina on Saturday, serving to them to a 4-0 win over Salernitana on the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but whereas his teammates went to rejoice below the Curva Fiesole he took himself to the stand behind the opposition bench. A younger fan had ready an indication asking for the striker’s shirt. It was sufficient to get on Santa’s “good” checklist.

Privately, Vlahovic might need been completely satisfied for the excuse. His relationship with the Ultras who occupy the Fiesole has not recovered because the membership’s proprietor, Rocco Commisso, went public in regards to the breakdown of his contract negotiations in October. Vlahovic, whose deal is ready to run out in the summertime of 2023, turned down an extension that might have made him Fiorentina’s best-paid participant of all time.

He was worthy of such a suggestion. Vlahovic is Serie A’s prime scorer this season with 15 objectives from 17 appearances. He has struck 32 occasions on this calendar 12 months, inserting him only one shy of the league report held by Cristiano Ronaldo. Throughout Europe’s “massive 5” home championships, solely Robert Lewandowski has outgunned Vlahovic in 2021.

All this at 21 years previous and enjoying for a membership that completed thirteenth final season. Vlahovic is not a one-man military, and Fiorentina have made actual strides on this marketing campaign below their new supervisor, Vincenzo Italiano, rising all the way in which to fifth within the desk. But the Serbian remains to be accountable for 48% of the membership’s objectives so far – and that’s earlier than we begin counting assists.


Commisso was reported to have supplied as a lot as €4m a 12 months after tax – 5 occasions Vlahovic’s present pay fee. In an announcement, he claimed to have raised his supply repeatedly to accommodate the participant’s representatives. The participant gave no public remark, but the suspicion was that no amount of cash might persuade him to tie himself down at a time when he knew larger golf equipment have been beginning to present an curiosity.

Newspapers have been linking him already with Juventus, scary a grim sense of deja vu for Fiorentina followers. That they had misplaced Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi to the Bianconeri previously 4 years, simply as they did Roberto Baggio three a long time earlier than. When your most promising younger expertise so usually leaves to affix your most hated rival, you can begin to develop a fancy.

Dusan Vlahovic gives his shirt to a young Fiorentina fan
Dusan Vlahovic provides his shirt to a younger Fiorentina fan. {Photograph}: Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Vlahovic heard whistles from the Fiesole earlier than Fiorentina’s subsequent dwelling recreation, a 3-0 rout of Cagliari. When the Viola received a penalty at that finish of the pitch, he declined to take it – passing duties to the membership’s captain, Cristiano Biraghi. Italiano would later insist that this was not an enormous deal and that penalties have been a query of “feeling”. However the shock was evident within the second on the faces of Vlahovic’s teammates.

He would rating a free-kick on the far finish later within the match, but whereas the remainder of the Franchi celebrated a piece of the Fiesole refused to affix in. They did not jeer, but responded with performative indifference, extending a rehearsed chant with out lacking a beat.

That has been the tone of issues since. Whereas most Fiorentina followers have proven themselves prepared to get behind Vlahovic, a small and unyielding core of Ultras has resisted, making it clear that they would like him not to rejoice at their finish.

In the meantime, the participant’s type has solely bought higher. Vlahovic adopted up the Cagliari recreation with a hat-trick towards Spezia, then two extra objectives and an help in a 4-3 win over Milan. Then he went away on worldwide obligation and helped Serbia to qualify for the World Cup. Since returning, he has scored seven extra objectives in 5 video games.

Such extraordinary type will solely sharpen the curiosity of potential suitors. Arsenal and Manchester Metropolis have been among the many groups linked to the participant final summer time but at this level nearly each main membership in Europe is a minimum of monitoring his progress. With 18 months left on the participant’s contract, Fiorentina might face a sophisticated resolution if any of them decides to return ahead with a worthy supply in January.

But all indications are that the participant himself would like to remain till the top of the marketing campaign. Any longer than that’s unlikely, even after he celebrated scoring towards Milan by pointing a finger down on the pitch as if to say: “My place is right here.”

Vlahovic has spoken overtly about ambition, about wanting to maintain progressing and difficult himself. As he put it in an interview with Dazn this September, “a life with out threat is not price dwelling”. But he believes Fiorentina is the appropriate place for him to be at this second, describing it as someplace he can, “take a step ahead, rating a lot of objectives, give a lot of assists and win a lot of matches. The remainder will come because it comes.”

And Fiorentina are flying proper now, with 4 wins – and 15 objectives scored – of their final 5 video games. Italiano earned his alternative on the membership by overachieving at Arzignano Valchiampo in Serie D, Trapani in Serie C after which Spezia in Serie B, securing repeat promotions earlier than guiding the latter membership to top-flight security final season.

He’s common together with his gamers and was cited by Vlahovic as a key issue within the resolution to remain this season in Florence. “He’s all the time on you, correcting the smallest mistake,” stated the striker. “I like that as a result of with somebody like that I can solely develop.”

Of the 2 objectives Vlahovic scored on Saturday, the primary was extra eye-catching: an angled chip again throughout his personal physique from the sting of the field. It was the second, although, that he loved extra, arriving on the close to publish to brush dwelling a cross from Riccardo Sottil. He had been working together with his supervisor to get higher at these actual runs for weeks now. The pair celebrated collectively in entrance of the dugout.


This was a satisfying night all-around for Italiano, who has wished extra objectives from midfield as effectively and had them delivered right here by Giacomo Bonaventura and the substitute Youssef Maleh. It was the second strike in as many video games for the latter participant, 23 years previous and signed from Venezia in January but allowed to remain on mortgage there till the summer time.

There may be extra to love on this squad than simply Vlahovic. Maleh’s emergence is an encouraging notice, as are the robust current performances of Bonaventura and the Argentinian winger Nico González. Collectively they’ve helped to propel Fiorentina to fifth within the desk, two factors clear now even of Juventus.

Vlahovic will ultimately depart – whether or not eventually – but the membership has a window of alternative now to take advantage of his expertise. It’s not Father Christmas’s job, in spite of everything, to hold round perpetually. What higher gift might there be, although, for these sceptics within the Curva Fiesole, than a European qualification earned on the expense of these most hated rivals?

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