What do Dusan Vlahovic, Dodi Lukebakio and Gaetan Laborde have in common?
So far, not much – apart from being touted as Newcastle United’s next signing. But if Vlahovic scores a goal for Juventus against Fiorentina on Wednesday, he will join Wolfsburg’s Lukebakio (who joined on loan from Hertha Berlin) and Rennes’ Laborde (who signed from Montpellier) as the only players in Europe’s top five leagues. to score for and against the same team this season.
Vlahovic said his feelings were “a bit mixed” as he considered facing the alto at the Artemio Franchi, where he spent four years after joining Partizan aged 18. “It’s a bit strange,” he told DAZN, preparing for a match against the team he scored 33 times for in Serie A in 2021, equaling the calendar year record of the competition drawn up by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.
The sentiment among the Fiorentina faithful will be a bit more, shall we say, partisan. Vlahovic’s January transfer, completed on his 22nd birthday for an initial fee of 70 million euros, sparked levels of fury among the fan base arguably unprecedented since the Roberto Baggio riots in the early 1990s. 1990. Fiorentina ultras expressed their anger not just at the player, but at the club itself, lambasting chairman Rocco Commisso for making deals with ‘the ultimate evil’ after promising never to sell their best players to the hated Bianconeri.
Meanwhile, Vlahovic has been down to the daily task of scoring goals, and with three in his last two games, Juve are starting to hope for a surprise late challenge for the Champions League and Serie A titles. Before that comes the small matter of a Coppa Italia semi-final in Florence, and the chance for Vlahovic to come one step closer to a first trophy outside of Serbia by knocking out his former employers.
And he wouldn’t be the first Juve player to come back to haunt Fiorentina…
Baggio isn’t the only reason Fiorentina don’t like Juventus, but get someone to explain the rivalry and their name will probably come up pretty quickly.
The ponytailed posterboy of Italian football became a star during his five years in Tuscany even before his rise to world fame at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. It was the same year that Juve signed him from Fiorentina for around £8m, breaking the world transfer record and prompting furious Fiorentina fans to take to the streets in a sign of protest.
Baggio claimed he never really wanted to leave and, when he returned to face them in Bianconeri colors on April 7, he refused to take a penalty, reportedly out of fear that goalkeeper Gianmatteo Mareggini would know where he was. would put it. Luigi Di Biagio stepped in instead, missed and Juve lost. Picking up a Fiorentina scarf didn’t help Baggio endear himself to the Juve faithful either.
Yet over the next five years Baggio would send them back to Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup glory and become the first Italian since Paolo Rossi in 1982 to win the Ballon d’Or (it would still take 13 years before another, Fabio Cannavaro, did the same).
If Baggio’s transfer sparked a riot, Giorgio Chiellini’s permanent move to Juve in 2005 sparked more silent grumbling. He spent 2004-05 with the Viola after they and Juve reached a co-ownership deal, so it was always expected that lawsuits in Turin could increase the total amount of his registration fee.
Of course, watching Chiellini win nine Scudetti, five Coppa Italia crowns and Euro 2020 as part of a glittering Azzurri career has left many Fiorentina fans with an unwavering sense of “what if”.
In December 2005, Chiellini started against Fiorentina in a frankly unfair four-man defense that also included Lillian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta, with Juve earning a 2-1 win thanks to Mauro Camoranesi’s 88th-minute goal.
Since then, he has faced Fiorentina 17 times in Serie A, losing only twice. But, more importantly, Chiellini has become a great player for Juve – he is just two games away from placing third behind Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon on the club’s all-time appearances list.
Bernardeschi may have quit the season but that hasn’t stopped Fiorentina fans from venting their anger in response to his €40m move. They hung a banner outside the stadium which made their displeasure quite clear. He said, “Who wouldn’t like to spit in your face…you’re a fucking hunchback”.
His move to the Old Lady came after something of a breakthrough season as he netted 11 times in Serie A – that was an improvement of nine on the two he had the previous campaign.
Unsurprisingly, he was mocked and targeted with banners on his first return to Florence in February 2018, although Bernardeschi had the last laugh, curling in a free-kick as Juve won 2-0. It’s fair to say he didn’t hold back from celebrating, letting out a huge scream.
“I celebrated when I scored because I believe a professional should respect the fans. I have always been grateful to Fiorentina, and always will be, for the way they looked after and helped me. to develop, but I made a career choice and now I play for another team,” he told Sky Sport Italia at the time.
But Bernardeschi struggled to have the same kind of prominence for Juve, being used more as a utility and substitute player, which is reflected in the fact that he scored just eight league goals for the club. .
If Fiorentina fans are upset on Wednesday, wait until next season when Federico Chiesa is fit again and lines up alongside Vlahovic. The duo appeared together 41 times for the Viola before Chiesa left in October 2020 for Turin.
Chiesa, who is out for the rest of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, will be a permanent Juve player in 2022-23. For now, remarkably, he is simply on loan from Fiorentina.
Such deals that appear to favor the buying club are not uncommon in Serie A, but Fiorentina fans could be forgiven for being furious as their club once again agreed to the transfer of a star player to their bitter rivals.
Chiesa – the son of former Fiorentina striker Enrico – dazzled in his last full season at Florence, scoring 11 goals and six assists, and did the same for Juve after a bit of a rocky start. At the time of his injury – before Vlahovic arrived – he was the Bianconeri’s best player.