It’s back-and-forth telenovela between three clubs—Roma, Fiorentina and AC Milan—that looks like it’s reached it’s final mercato chapter. Sky Italia (via Calciomercato.com) are reporting that Roma have won the battle to sign all-action midfielder Jordan Veretout from Fiorentina for 19 million euros including bonuses.
The reported transfer fee represents a climb-down from the initial demands by the Viola, who just want to put an end to a Veretout saga that’s seen the Frenchman play with his head down since March and faced hot water with Fiorentina fans this pre-season, before Veretout was outright left out of the Viola pre-season friendly call-ups with “injury” - training apart from the rest of the squad in what little training he’s seen this July.
We’ll let our sister site Viola Nation sum up how Veretout got this point:
What happened: Handed the keys to the midfield after Milan Badelj’s departure, Stefano Pioli shifted him to a deeper role in midfield from which he could control play, rather than the bustling mezzala brief he handled last year. Veretout struggled a bit at first, especially with the defensive responsibilities, but perked up considerably after a month or two and looked like a natural.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get much support in the middle from his teammates, who tended to drift wide and often left him holding down a 30 yard square of space in the middle. While Jordan scrapped as best he could, he was often overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Towards the end of the year, too, his performances fell off amidst rumors of a move away; we’ll find out soon if there’s any truth to them, but he earned the ire of some fans over the final couple months of the season.
So there’s plenty of room for questions on how his move could have been better handled from both sides.
In Veretout’s defence (and something Roma’s backline can empathise with): Being asked to do a job while covering an extra 30 yards of space on top is a raw deal. But Veretout’s erratic, headline-grabbing style this past season has led to that age-old question: Is he a midfielder who really just lacks discipline and makes up for it with his athletic ability? A hero-baller? Or is he now the real deal at 26 years of age waiting to play in a balanced first eleven?
Anyone inside the football commentary world who’s taken the time to look at Veretout’s Serie A career assures us it’s the latter. And it’s up to Roma to round out a balanced setup that’ll make this move pay off to the fullest.
Veretout marries eye-catching workrate with an optimal sense of vision, first-time passing, anticipation of winning the ball back and ability to find teammates both long and short-range. He also possesses his own goal-threat from his days as a more advanced midfielder running into the box.
Certainly, Veretout’s ability to a pass over any distance without even breaking his stride is the ability that makes the biggest impression on me. I’ve read that Veretout plays like Strootman, but he frankly reminds me more of the old Nainggolan before Luciano Spalletti destroyed Nainggolan’s career.
In short: Veretout offers everything. Including the awareness that often eluded Nainggolan in his own heyday. And that’s exactly what Fonseca needs - in the most measured of ways - as a midfield partner to his more deep-lying playmaker. In Veretout, Roma have found their Portuguese coach his tactical successor to Brazilian Fred.
Now the doors open for the futures of Steven Nzonzi, Javier Pastore and Bryan Cristante to be resolved, as midfield just got a whole lot more crowded.