'This cannot be the Ilicic we know' - Did Liverpool dodge a €9m bullet?

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Liverpool tried to sign Josip Ilicic this summer, but he moved to Fiorentina instead. However things have not begun well in Florence.

This summer reports linked Slovenian international Josip Ilicic with a move to Liverpool as his Italian side Palermo struggle in a fight against relegation from Serie A.

The tall and dynamic playmaker was one of the only shining lights for the Sicilian side as they eventually succumbed to a poor campaign - and suffered relegation to Serie B.

At the end of the season he was adamant that he would be leaving the club after the relegation - and Liverpool were heavily linked with his signature - with an asking price of around £8 million you could understand why.

In the end he made good on his vow to remain in Italy and joined the ambitious looking squad at Fiorentina instead.

But things have not gone according to plan for the 25-year-old so far in Florence.

He arrived at the club with an injury problem which halted his start to life at the Artemio Franchi. He then picked up another injury, an ankle problem that ruled him out for October.

But since his return he has struggled to produce the swashbuckling form that saw teams from across Europe battle for his signature this summer past.

Last night, as La Viola fired blanks against struggling Portuguese outfit Pacos de Ferreira, he put in perhaps his worst performance since his transfer from Sicily - and was hauled off after 74 ineffectual minutes. One of his shots on goal ended up going off for a throw-in.

After the game the Fiorentina boss, ex-Fulham striker Vincenzo Montella, made it clear that Ilicic’s performances were certainly not what was expected of him this season:

“He needs to play, as this cannot be the Ilicic we know. He has been unlucky so far with the Viola, as he arrived with a few fitness problems and picked up another injury straight away. This slowed down his process of settling into the team, but we will soon see him in his best shape.”

But as we approach December you have to wonder how long it will take him to find his best form - and if Liverpool might have actually dodged a bullet on this one.

image: © carca

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