La Nazione have maintained that Fiorentina have reached a preliminary agreement with Everton’s Johnny Heitinga ahead of the January transfer window.
The Dutch international will see his current deal at Goodison Park expire at the end of the season, and would certainly be allowed to leave his current employers for a nominal fee. Losing his place to the central defense duo of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin in the Liverpool-based outfit last term when David Moyes was still at the helm, Heitinga has never truly recovered and looks a shadow of the player that was named the Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2008.
So despite his pedigree and the low cost of his acquisition, why are Fiorentina looking to a man so direly lacking in confidence at this point?
The back line has never been a point of strength for the Viola during Vincenzo Montella’s revolution at the helm as the Tuscans shipped 44 goals in 2012-13 and have allowed 15 this campaign through 13 games, relying on a strong attack to counteract the lack of a dominant presence at the back.
Stefan Savic and Gonzalo Rodriguez have done admirably as Fiorentina’s primary pair when playing with a four-man defense, but still seem to lack the irresistible quality of top central defenders. That said, the former is only 22, and the side would indeed be that much better with a high-profile stopper in the starting 11.
Owners Andrea and Diego Della Valle have sprung for the likes of Mario Gomez, Giuseppe Rossi and Josip Ilicic to augment the side going forward in recent transfer windows, and it seems only right that the defense now receives the same attention.
Bringing in Heitinga is not an answer to the questions that face the back line at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. He’s a player out of form, lacking confidence and seemingly couldn’t contribute at a sufficient level to drastically improve Fiorentina. A stop-gap should not be used to complete the squad. Rather, a strong pick-up should be made that sends a message to the rest of Serie A that the Viola endeavor not only to play flowing attacking football, but also man the ramparts with vigor.
Heitinga should be left to Everton, and not be put on the books by a club on the upswing that needs an injection of strength in a particular area. They don’t need the experience of a player whose best days are well behind him.