Fiorentina may not be the biggest Italian club in world football, going about their business on the pitch quietly more often than not, with the outfit winning just a handful of major trophies.
But off the pitch, they have had a great deal to say, with the Serie A side selling on several top-class footballers over the years. Could their 2022 World Cup star Sofyan Amrabat be the next on this list?
Morocco certainly stood out in the tournament, getting all the way to the semi-final in what was an unforgettable run for the African side. They were finally knocked out by defending champions France, who then narrowly lost out to Argentina in the final.
It was undoubtedly a collective effort from Morocco, with players, coaches and supporters all unified in their effort to shock the world. They did exactly that, but there were unquestionably a few star players who guided them to such a strong finish with fantastic individual displays. And one of those was midfielder Amrabat, who currently plays his club football in Serie A with Fiorentina.
Who could Sofyan Amrabat follow for big money?
The most recent high-profile exit from Artemio Franchi Stadium was that of lethal striker Dusan Vlahovic, who left Fiorentina for Juventus in January of this year. He spent four years at the club, and despite a quiet start, left a legendary figure thanks to his phenomenal achievements in front of goal.
The Serbian youngster hit 21 goals in the 2020/21 season to help him clinch the Serie A Young Player of the Year award, with Vlahovic ending the calendar year with 33 goals, joining Cristiano Ronaldo as the only player to achieve the feat since 1951. Fiorentina were determined to keep hold of their star player, but admitted defeat at the hands of Serie A rivals Juventus, who outcompeted several other clubs for his signature with their reported €70m move, plus €10m in performance-related bonuses.
Keeping hold of talented winger Federico Chiesa was perhaps an even bigger priority for Fiorentina given that the youngster had come through the club’s youth system. But again it was seemingly impossible to say no to the Old Lady, who first came in with a two-year loan deal for the exciting attacker in 2020.
He starred for his temporary club, who needed little convincing to make the move permanent in May 2022. Chiesa has unfortunately not exactly been given the chance to shine much in black and white since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January, but he has indeed returned to the pitch, featuring in a Champions League group stage match in November after almost 10 months out.
Completing the hat-trick for Juventus was Federico Bernardeschi, who made the move from Fiorentina in 2017. Another Fiorentina academy graduate, the winger then spent five years in Turin, making over 100 appearances and lifting three league titles and two Italian cups.
Bernardeschi’s beginnings in senior football were tested out on loan like many other youngsters, but he soon established himself as a first-team regular for Viola before his adventure with Juventus began. The attacker, who helped Italy lift the Euro 2020 trophy, left his birth country in the summer for MLS outfit Toronto, linking up with compatriot Lorenzo Insigne.
Which other players have departed the Italian side?
The likes of Vlahovic and Chiesa are among the most recent departures from Fiorentina, but they certainly aren’t the only big names to have left the club throughout its history. Portugal attacker Rui Costa made the short trip to AC Milan in 2001, not long after the club had just lost Gabriel Batistuta to Roma. Both made over 200 appearances for Fiorentina and etched their names into the club’s folklore for their outstanding displays.
The legendary Roberto Baggio was also on their payroll once upon a time before, somewhat unsurprisingly, Juventus came calling. The Old Lady also snapped up Felipe Melo from Fiorentina just over a decade ago. Francesco Toldo and Matias Vecino meanwhile once left Florence for Inter, with Nikola Kalinic meanwhile moving to AC.
The Italian outfit have certainly not limited their outgoings to fellow Serie A clubs, with plenty of Premier League switches taking place over the years. They have not, however, been quite as successful as the domestic moves. Players on this list include Marcos Alonso and Juan Cuadrado, who both moved to Chelsea, and Stevan Jovetic and Matija Nastasic, who both made the move to Manchester City.
Is Sofyan Amrabat the next Fiorentina star to move on?
There could now be another high-profile move on the cards, and one that could involve a transfer to the English Premier League, with several top clubs reportedly keeping tabs on central midfielder Sofyan Amrabat.
His displays for Morocco at the 2022 World Cup got people off their seats, with the 26-year-old more than holding his own against some of the world’s best midfielders. Amrabat battled it out against the world-class talent of Luka Modric in the goalless draw against Croatia, with Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic also providing him with a huge challenge in the middle of the pitch.
Amrabat then outshone both Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel in the 2-0 victory over Belgium, before proving his superb ability in the round of 16 victory over Spain, where he came up against the hugely experienced Sergio Busquets and the young talents of Gavi and Pedri.
And if that wasn’t enough, Amrabat was once again in fine form in the quarter-final win over Portugal, battling it out in midfield against the likes of Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves.
France was one step too far for the African side, but Amrabat was still a standout in midfield, taking on young star Aurelien Tchouameni.
As noted by OptaJoe, Amrabat recovered possession of the ball 51 times throughout the 2022 World Cup, the most of any player on record (since 1966) at a single edition for an African country. It’s one of many statistics that prospective clubs will look at, with his iconic sliding tackle on Kylian Mbappe winning him plenty of supporters, and indeed enemies.
There are now plenty of rumours surrounding his future, with the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United just a handful of clubs with strong links. Spanish giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also reportedly interested in signing the midfielder as soon as next month. It will, however, take quite a fee to steal the talented Amrabat away from Fiorentina.
51 – Sofyan Amrabat recovered possession of the ball 51 times during the 2022 World Cup, the most of any player on record at a single edition for an African nation (1966 onwards). Hustle. pic.twitter.com/XYJXTqrM5l
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 14, 2022