This is not the first time Rocco Commisso has raised the hopes of Fiorentina supporters, only to plunge a dagger straight into the pulmonary artery of each and every Viola supporter.
During the summer of 2020, Federico Chiesa was sold to arch-rivals Juventus, despite the Fiorentina owner insisting that arguably the most talented player to wear that iconic purple shirt since Gabriel Batistuta was going absolutely nowhere – least of all the Allianz Stadium.
In early September, Commisso was at it again.
Dusan Vlahovic, he said, ‘wants to stay’ at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, brushing off concerns regarding the striker’s contract situation.
Four weeks later, it seems his confidence was very much misguided.
“The renewal offer was not accepted,” Commisso said today, admitting that Vlahovic has turned down the chance to extend a contract that will expire in 2023 (Football Italia).
“Since my arrival in Florence, I have always promised our fans that I would be honest with them and that I would never make any promises that I couldn’t keep.”
A dubious claim indeed.
It is worth pointing out that, one year after Commisso claimed that he “won’t sell (Chiesa), not even for 100 million euros”, the winger was putting pen to paper on a two-year loan deal with Juventus, complete with a purchase option set at just £50 million.
Is Dusan Vlahovic heading to the Premier League?
“As you know, Fiorentina made a very important offer to the player, a contract proposal that would have made him the highest paid player in the history of the club,” Commisso added.
“Our offer had also been improved on several occasions over time to meet the demands of both Dusan and his entourage but, despite our best efforts, the renewal proposal was not accepted.”
And thus begins the feeding frenzy, Commisso’s comments the transfer market equivalent of dropping a bloody steak into a tank of starving piranhas.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur will be dusting off their contact books and, to be honest, it would feel like a dereliction of duty if Arsenal did not step up their chase too, after laying the groundwork earlier this year (Gianluca di Marzio).
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is 32 now, with performances like the one against Tottenham last month becoming increasingly infrequent. Alexandre Lacazette is the wrong side of 30 himself these days and, according to reports, will be allowed to leave next year when his contract expires.
Vlahovic, in contrast, would be a long-term addition capable of transforming Arsenal’s fortunes in the present and the future; a real monster of a centre-forward who’d give Arsenal the mobility of a Lacazette, the physicality of an Olivier Giroud and the ice-cool finishing skills of an Aubameyang.
What’s more, if Vlahovic opts for Juventus or Real Madrid instead, it is hard to imagine him joining Arsenal some way down the line unless he endures a dramatic fall from grace a la Luka Jovic.
He wouldn’t break the bank either. Fiorentina may have little choice but to accept a cut-price fee, rather than risk losing their prized asset for absolutely nothing 12 months later.
“Vlahovic, after Haaland, is the best striker in Europe for his age,” Italy legend Christian Vieri said recently. “He is a top striker and will score 20 goals easily next season.”
But who for, Christian?