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Fiorentina midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli is a man in demand, with Everton, Juventus and Internazionale reportedly all vying for the 23-year-old’s signature.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise. The €45million-rated star has burst onto the scene in Serie A this season, emerging as one Italy’s hottest prospects.
After contributing five goals during a successful 2018/19 campaign on loan at second-tier Cremonese, Castrovilli forced his way into the starting line-up at La Viola and has gone on to become one of the first names on the teamsheet in Florence. The man from Minervino Murge has racked up 2,333 minutes, scoring three times and registering two assists in all competitions.
That somewhat unremarkable return is far from the whole story though, with Castrovilli displaying some eye-catching attributes in a season of outstanding performances for Giuseppe Iachini’s side.
Perhaps the most obvious quality that marks the dynamic central midfielder out from his peers is his outrageous dribbling. He has attempted an average of 4.48 take-ons per 90 (the tenth most of any player in Serie A) and has completed 3.38 per 90. Only four players in Italy’s top tier have succeeded with more in 2019/20.
Numbers like that would traditionally be associated with a winger, but Castrovilli isn’t afraid to try and beat his man in the middle of the park. His success may well explain why he is the 16th most-fouled player in the league (2.8 per 90), as opponents do anything in their power to stop the fleet-footed youngster.
But there is more to Castrovilli’s game than simply breaking lines and driving play forward. He has won an impressive 8.81 duels per 90 this season (the eighth-most in Serie A) and is inside the division’s top 20 players when it comes to winning possession back in the final third (0.93 per 90). This is a player who has a combative quality which perfectly complements his attacking flair.
Then there’s his aerial ability. You wouldn’t normally associate a player in Castrovilli’s central role with being a significant threat in the air, but curiously two of the midfielder’s three goals this season have been scored with his head. It may not be the defining quality of his play, but it’s certainly another string to the hot prospect’s bow.
With such a wide-ranging skillset, Fiorentina are understandably keen to build their side around Castrovilli. The Italian international has a contract at the Stadio Artemio Franchi until 2024. Their chief executive officer Joe Barone has certainly been vocal in warning off any potential suitors.
“He (Castrovilli) still has much to give for us and for Italian football, so he will remain in Florence,” Barone told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
That opinion appears to be echoed by Castrovilli himself, who seems in no rush to leave Tuscany.
“For now, I’m just focusing on doing well with Fiorentina,” he said, when speaking to The Athletic. “I’ve only been in Serie A a few months and I can and must still improve a lot.”
While the club’s ambitious ownership may help keep the midfielder and fellow young stars Dušan Vlahović and Federico Chiesa at the club for next season, it can’t be long until a move to one of Europe’s big boys beckons.
Everton’s reported interest is intriguing and their spending power under Farhad Moshiri’s stewardship raises the possibility of a sizeable bid Fiorentina simply can’t refuse. But there is a sense that Castrovilli is set for bigger things and a move to Juventus or Internazionale seems like a more plausible next step for a player of his potential.
The COVID-19 outbreak is likely to completely rewrite the rules of the transfer market this summer. On one hand that could mean Europe’s big fish are able to take advantage of their superior financial resilience and splash the cash on a star of Castrovilli’s ilk. Conversely, it may encourage La Viola to hang onto their most valuable assets until values start to rise again.
His big move may not necessarily come in the next transfer window, but there’s little doubt that Castrovilli is a player destined for the top.