How Serie A giants Fiorentina fare this forthcoming season largely depends on whether their bid to keep Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado at the club is successful.
The 26-year-old, who has been linked with a move to either Manchester United or Barcelona after a stellar World Cup campaign, played a key role in the club’s unsuccessful pursuit of Champions League football last season, scoring 15 times in 43 games.
However, given the fact he now stands as one of the most coveted players in football, keeping him at the Stadio Artemio Franchi seems a very difficult task.
Vincenzo Montella’s stewardship has seen the Colombian ace rise to one of the best attacking talents in the world and a far cry from the player Udinese were so willing to let go back in 2012.
He was unlucky to miss out on a Coppa Italia winner’s medal in May as Napoli beat Fiorentina 3-1 to secure the first trophy of Rafael Benitez’s reign.
In his debut season with La Viola, he scored five and assisted six just a year after being relegated to Serie B with Lecce.
That Fiorentina failed to make the Champions League now means that they may be forced to sell their prized effort if a substantial bid is tabled for his services.
World Cup wonder
Whilst his Colombian team-mate James Rodriguez took the plaudits and the Golden Boot at the World Cup, Cuadrado still showed his worth on football’s biggest stage.
He scored his country’s first goal in their 4-1 victory over Japan in the group stages, calmly converting a penalty and playing his part in ensuring his side prevailed with maximum points from their opening three games.
The trickster also ended the tournament with four assists, the same as Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos to further endear himself to any possible suitors.
New era intent
Whether it be the Nou Camp or Old Trafford, Cuadrado is set to become a statement of a new era in either La Liga or the Premier League.
Luis Enrique has already bolstered the Barcelona squad with the acquisitions of Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez, but the Spaniard is keen to build an attacking arsenal to ensure the glory days return to Catalonia.
Louis van Gaal is the man charged with repairing the damage inflicted by David Moyes’ horrendous time as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, and rates Cuadrado highly given his work ethic and ability.
As shown with the Netherlands' style, the Dutchman values players capable of the sublime but also willing to sacrifice themselves for the team.
Cuadrado’s future remains uncertain, but that he is so highly valued shows the immensity of the task facing Fiorentina.
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