OFFICIAL: Fiorentina lends Riccardo Saponara to Spezia
Fiorentina opened their January transfer market with the most predictable movement possible: Riccardo Saponara has left to join Spezia on loan with option to buy. It’s a winter event as predictable as the swallows flying south. He has already picked number 23 and is in the squad to face Napoli tomorrow. No one in the know mentioned the finances but the problem is this is a 6 month contract with an option to make it permanent for € 2.5million at the end of the season.
It’s as good a place for Cheese as any other. Manager Vincenzo Italiano could probably use a little more creativity in his 4-3-3 and Saponara could be the perfect man to help set up the impressive M’bala Nzola (7 goals already). He will likely look for a place in the central midfield, although there is a chance he will end up competing with Juan Agudelo (Fiorentina beffata!) For a few minutes on the right wing as well.
I have written elegies for Saponara before; take a look at the language in the stories of its loans to Sampdoria, Genoa and Lecce if you don’t believe me. I love Ricky and I think he’s a wonderful player who has been rather left behind by the modern game that favors robotic fitness over shady style. He is a trequartista, a luxury player, at a time that does not use them (Javier Pastore and Christian Eriksen send their greetings).
More than that, he seems to be a lovely man. He’s hilarious on social media and wrote perhaps the most piercing farewell to Davide Astori for any member of the team. This is the kind of player we want to succeed. But he is also 29 years old and not the kind of player Fiorentina want to build in the long term at this point. He’s played all 146 minutes this year and they’ve all felt like flashbacks. His contract expires next year. After Valentin Eysseric, he has always been the most obvious candidate for a start this winter, even if he leaves good memories.
Come on, did you really think I wouldn’t find an excuse to put this in somehow?
Photo by Paolo Bruno / Getty Images
The Cheese Shark, recently introduced in Liguria.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti / Getty Images
Remember when he set Cholito’s goal to beat Roma?
Photo by Matteo Ciambelli / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Real frustration will strike if he gets injured and Spezia become the fourth team in a row to decline his option to buy, leaving him on Viola’s books for another year. With 28 players and no European competition, this list is far too large. It’s not Saponara’s fault at all, but rather Daniele Pradè, who hasn’t been able to find a permanent home for him, leaving him to bounce back between relegation scrapers for the past two years.
As always, we only wish Cheese the best of luck. Hopefully he can make his way into the Aquilotti XI and show enough to trigger a buy; he deserves a team that wants him, and being confined to Spezia is not the worse possible results. We have said it before but I hope it will be the last time: thank you for everything, Ricky, and good luck on your new adventure.