Massimiliano Allegri called on Dusan Vlahovic to be more unpredictable after his limited impact for Juventus on his return to former club Fiorentina.

Emotions were high as Vlahovic received a hostile welcome from the home fans back at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final.

Vlahovic, who followed a well-worn path in trading Fiorentina for hated rivals Juve in January for an initial fee of €70million, saw his influence restricted in a pulsating game.

Fiorentina dominated possession and wasted several chances to take the lead, while at the other end Vlahovic registered just 36 touches, the lowest of any Juve player to start and finish the game, with only two of those coming in the opposition box.

He was thwarted by Pietro Terracciano with one of his two shots, but the Fiorentina goalkeeper could do nothing as Juve clinched a 1-0 victory in stoppage time, the hosts punished for their profligacy when Lorenzo Venuti inadvertently deflected Juan Cuadrado's cross into his own net.

That meant an ineffectual performance from Vlahovic was immaterial, with Allegri focusing on his strengths while delivering a pointer to the man who scored 33 times in Serie A in 2021, equalling the competition's calendar-year record set by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.

"Vlahovic is very good at playing with the team, we have more of a link now between the midfielders and forwards, so that too is progress," Allegri told Mediaset.

"It's important to move around and be more unpredictable, as the simplest and toughest thing in football is to avoid marking."

"We have to congratulate Fiorentina on a good performance," he added. 

"We suffered with two counter-attacks in the first half, again in the second, and fortunately we didn't concede because they made mistakes.

"I liked the way we were organised today and only ran risks on counter-attacks. We knew Fiorentina liked to overlap on the flanks and put crosses in, so there wouldn't be a threat through the centre.

"We should've kept the ball in their half more, but I saw progress."

Dusan Vlahovic was kept at bay by old club Fiorentina but Juventus claimed a dramatic late 1-0 win in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.

Emotions were high as Vlahovic made his return to Florence following his January transfer for an initial fee of €70million, the Serbian talisman frequently whistled by a raucous home crowd.

The noise at the Stadio Artemio Franchi inspired Fiorentina, who were the better side throughout a pulsating contest, and they would be taking an advantage to the second leg in Turin had Jonathan Ikone not spurned a pair of gilt-edged chances.

They were ultimately made to pay for their profligacy in stoppage time when Juan Cuadrado's wicked right-wing delivery cannoned off an unfortunate Lorenzo Venuti and over the line to give Juve the advantage going into next month's return leg in Turin.

 

What do Dusan Vlahovic, Dodi Lukebakio and Gaetan Laborde all have in common?

As of this moment, not much – aside from having been touted as the next Newcastle United signing. But if Vlahovic gets 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 contemplated facing the Viola at the Artemio Franchi, where he spent four years after joining as an 18-year-old from Partizan. "It's a bit strange," he told DAZN, to prepare for a game against the team for whom he scored 33 times in Serie A in 2021, equalling the competition's calendar-year record set by Cristiano Ronaldo – the man he was bought to replace in Turin.

The sentiment among Fiorentina's faithful will be a bit more, well, partisan. Vlahovic's January transfer, completed on his 22nd birthday for an initial fee of €70million, sparked levels of fury among the fan base arguably not seen since the Roberto Baggio riots of the early 1990s. Fiorentina ultras vented their anger not just at the player, but at the club itself, lambasting president Rocco Commisso for doing deals with "the ultimate evil" after previously promising never to sell their best players to the hated Bianconeri.

Meanwhile, Vlahovic has got on with the day job of scoring goals, and with three in his past two games, Juve are beginning to hope of a surprise late challenge for the Champions League and Serie A titles. Before then comes the small matter of a Coppa Italia semi-final in Florence, and the chance for Vlahovic to take a step closer to a first trophy outside Serbia by knocking out his old employers.

And he wouldn't be the first Juve player to return to haunt Fiorentina...

Roberto Baggio

Baggio isn't the sole reason Fiorentina don't like Juventus, but ask someone to explain the rivalry and his name will likely come up pretty quickly.

The pony-tailed posterboy of Italian football developed into a star in his five years in Tuscany even before his rise to global fame at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. It was in that same year that Juve signed him from Fiorentina for an approximate fee of £8million, smashing the world transfer record and sparking furious Fiorentina fans to take to the streets in protest.

Baggio claimed he never really wanted to leave and, when he returned to face them in Bianconeri colours on April 7, he refused to take a penalty ostensibly out of concern that goalkeeper Gianmatteo Mareggini would know where he would put it. Luigi Di Biagio stepped up instead, missed, and Juve lost. Picking up a Fiorentina scarf didn't help Baggio to endear himself to the Juve faithful, either.

Still, over the next five years, Baggio would fire them 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 be 13 more years before another, Fabio Cannavaro, did the same).

Giorgio Chiellini

If Baggio's transfer sparked a riot, Giorgio Chiellini's permanent move to Juve in 2005 prompted more of a quiet grumble. He spent 2004-05 with the Viola after they and Juve reached a co-ownership deal, so it was always anticipated the suits in Turin might stump up the full amount for his registration rights.

Of course, watching Chiellini win nine Scudetti, five Coppa Italia crowns and Euro 2020 as part of a glittering Azzurri career has left plenty of Fiorentina fans with an unshakeable sense of 'what if'.

In December 2005, Chiellini started against Fiorentina in a frankly unfair back four that also featured Lillian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta, with Juve claiming a 2-1 win thanks to Mauro Camoranesi's 88th-minute goal. 

He's since gone on to face Fiorentina 17 times in Serie A, losing just twice. But, more importantly, Chiellini has become a Juve great – he is just two games away from putting himself third behind Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon on the club's all-time appearances list.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi may have moved out of season, but that didn't stop Fiorentina fans venting their anger in response to his €40m switch. They hung a banner outside the stadium that made their displeasure fairly clear. It read: "Who wouldn't like to spit in your face… you s***** hunchback".

His move to the Old Lady came after a something of a breakthrough season as he scored 11 times in Serie A – that was an improvement of nine from the two he'd got the previous campaign.

Unsurprisingly he was jeered and targeted by banners on his first return to Florence in February 2018, though Bernardeschi had the last laugh, curling a free-kick in as Juve won 2-0. It's fair to say he didn't abstain from celebrating, letting out a huge scream.

"I celebrated when I scored because I believe a professional should respect the fans. I've always been grateful to Fiorentina, and always will, for the way they looked after me and helped me develop, but I made a career choice and now I play for another team," he told Sky Sport Italia at the time.

But Bernardeschi's struggled to have the same kind of importance to Juve, rather being used as more of a utility and back-up player, which is reflected by the fact he's scored just eight league goals for the club.

Federico Chiesa

If Fiorentina fans are upset on Wednesday, just wait until next season when Federico Chiesa is fit again and lining up alongside Vlahovic. The pair appeared together 41 times for the Viola before Chiesa's October 2020 departure for Turin.

Chiesa, who is out for the rest of the season following damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, will be a permanent Juve player in 2022-23. For now, remarkably, he is merely on loan from Fiorentina.

Such deals that appear to favour the buying club are not uncommon in Serie A, but Fiorentina supporters could be forgiven for being furious as their club again accommodated the transfer of a star player to their bitter rivals.

Chiesa – the son of former Fiorentina forward Enrico – dazzled in his final full season in Florence, with 11 goals and six assists, and has done likewise for Juve following a slightly tricky start. At the time of his injury – before Vlahovic's arrival – he was the Bianconeri's standout performer.

Dusan Vlahovic will always be grateful to Fiorentina and is calm ahead of his first return to Florence, according to Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

The Serbia international joined Juve for an initial €70million free in January, bringing an end to a three-and-a-half-year stay at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Vlahovic had previously turned down the offer of a new contract with Fiorentina, forcing the club's hand somewhat as he had just 18 months to run on his existing deal.

After reportedly rejecting proposals from Premier League sides Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle United among others, Vlahovic instead opted for Serie A rivals Juventus.

Having also lost Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa to Juve in recent years, Vlahovic's choice of club did not go down well with Fiorentina's devoted supporters.

The forward's home is reported to have been under surveillance in the days leading up to the transfer, while some fans took to the streets to protest.

And in an open letter published in January, Fiorentina fans labelled Serie A top scorer Vlahovic "a coward" for joining Juve.

Ahead of Wednesday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg, Fiorentina released a statement asking their fans to avoid derogatory and racist chants aimed towards the striker.

Allegri did not confirm whether Vlahovic would start against his former side, but he expects the 22-year-old to perform well regardless of the reception he receives.

"I believe in the intelligence and culture of the Florentine fans," Allegri said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. 

"Vlahovic will always be grateful to everyone in Florence, society and the environment, who raised him and allowed him to arrive at Juventus. 

"He is calm. It's normal. He's a 22-year-old boy who returns to an environment where he grew up and gave him the opportunity to go to Juventus. 

"It is normal there is emotion. For him it will still be a particular match, but it is serene and so he must remain calm, otherwise he would never play against Fiorentina again.

"There are steps to be taken for the boy to mature."

Vlahovic matched Cristiano Ronaldo's high mark of the past 60 years in scoring 33 Serie A goals in a single calendar year when doing so in 2021.

He has carried that form with him to Turin, his four goals at least three more than any Juve team-mate since his debut against Verona on February 6.

Indeed, Vlahovic scored the fastest debut goal in Champions League history last week with his strike just 32 seconds into the 1-1 last-16 first-leg draw with Villarreal.

Should he score again in midweek, Vlahovic would become the third player in Europe's top five leagues after Dodi Lukebakio (Wolfsburg) and Gaetan Laborde (Montpellier) to net for and against any one team in all competitions this season.

While Allegri is pleased with the Serbia international's instant impact, however, he accepts there is room for improvement in other departments, with Juve winning just one of their past four games.

"We need to improve something else," he said. "We have conceded very avoidable goals, and it means that after scoring and everything seems to be done, we relax a bit. 

"In the last few games, we slept on goals, so we need to reactivate our attention, because when we lose fear, we become dangerous; not perceiving danger becomes a problem. 

"We could have conceded goals but not in those situations. From now until the end of the season, conceding few goals means reaching the top four."

Cristiano Ronaldo's future with Manchester United is uncertain amid a difficult season at Old Trafford.

The 37-year-old only joined United from Juventus in August, following interest from rivals Manchester City.

But the Red Devils are well out of the title race, with Ronaldo contributing nine league goals, in a tumultuous season that has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer axed as manager.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WOULD BOW TO RONALDO TRANSFER DEMANDS

Manchester United will allow five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo to depart if he demands to depart in the off-season, reports the Sunday Mirror.

The Portuguese is ready to quit the Red Devils should they miss the top four and subsequently fail to qualify for the Champions League.

The report claims that Ronaldo was expecting to transfer United into title contenders but that his presence has become a sideshow, meaning they are willing to let him go.

 

ROUND-UP

- Raphinha has caught the eye of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona but Leeds United plan to rebuff any offers him in the off-season according to The Mirror.

- The Mirror also reports that Arsenal are in the race for Napoli's Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz , joining Madrid and Barcelona.

- Liverpool target Fabio Carvalho is being pursued by Manchester United too, claims the Daily Star. The Fulham teenager came close to joining the Reds in January.

- Manchester City and Raheem Sterling are set for contract talks at the end of the season but the English leaders may sell him if he does not agree to a new deal, according to the Times.

- Fiorentina are interested in Manchester United full-back Diogo Dalot but would need to convince him to lower his wages, reports La Nazione. Dalot is in line for a new deal with United according to the Star.

- Liverpool Echo reports that Everton's Jean-Philippe Gbamin could join CSKA Moscow on loan with the Russian transfer window open until February 22.

Atalanta director general Umberto Marino was unhappy with what he believed was a "serious error" to allow Nikola Milenkovic's 93rd-minute winner to stand as Fiorentina triumphed 3-2 at Gewiss Stadium in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals. 

A ninth-minute Krzysztof Piatek penalty was overturned by goals from Davide Zappacosta and Jeremie Boga to give Atalanta the lead. 

Piatek equalised with 20 minutes remaining after having a penalty saved by Juan Musso, before Milenkovic hit a superb volleyed winner in the last few seconds of stoppage time. 

La Viola – who also had Lucas Martinez Quarta sent off with 10 minutes remaining for a second yellow card – celebrated wildly, but the hosts were unhappy the VAR chose not to overturn it, believing Giacomo Bonaventura was offside in the build-up. 

Speaking after the game, Marino told Sport Mediaset: "I can only congratulate Fiorentina and accept what happened. There are games when you get the feeling it is an uphill struggle for you and nothing is going to go your way. 

"Fiorentina always seem to have penalties against us, I don't know if they were the right decisions or not, but it's the third goal where we have serious problems. 

"Merih Demiral told me there was no foul for the free-kick that led to the goal, but I also have to ask if that Marten de Roon touch was sufficient to put Bonaventura back onside, then I have evidently understood nothing about football over all these years. 

"Mistakes can happen even with VAR, unfortunately they are happening a bit too often, including in Serie A. Not seeing an offside like that is in my view a serious error. 

"It is disappointing to miss out on a semi-final because of an incident like that in the 93rd minute. It is a serious error, I repeat, but errors are part of sport. 

"We simply have to accept them and move on." 

Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano admitted he took a risk on the set-piece that led to the winner, sending several players forward in an attempt to avoid extra time with a man fewer. 

"It was a game where I think before their equaliser, we were controlling the situation and had chances to go 2-0 up, but they equalised at the first opportunity," he said. 

"At the end, I called everyone forward on the free-kick because there was genuine fear of playing extra time down to 10 men. We were aggressive, brave and lucky too to believe right to the very end." 

Dusan Vlahovic got his move to Juventus because he and his "dishonest" agents wanted to "ruin" Fiorentina, according to the club's president Rocco Commisso. 

Serie A champions Juve shelled out an initial €70million to sign Vlahovic from Fiorentina last Thursday, beating off competition from Premier League sides Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle United. 

The Serbia international only had 18 months left on his contract with the Viola, who were keen to avoid losing their talisman for nothing at the end of next season. 

Commisso believed Vlahovic had long had an agreement in place and was ready to run down his contract if a move to Juve could not be agreed. 

“In November I came back to try to finalise the contract, but his agents were dishonest and liars," Commisso told the club's official website. 

"We had a good meeting, I expected a positive response for the morning after to sign the contract. Instead of what he had decided, he asked for double. His agents then asked for more. They also wanted a 10 per cent cut of the transfer fee and exclusive rights to negotiate his next move. 

"It was clear to everyone he already had a deal with someone. He said no to every offer. We went to England to deal with Premier League teams and returned with various proposals, but he and his agents always said no. 

"In my opinion, the goal was to run his contract down and ruin Fiorentina. The agents thought he could go for nothing and make themselves rich." 

Vlahovic has scored 17 goals in 21 Serie A outings this season, putting him level with Ciro Immobile at the top of the scoring charts. 

Dusan Vlahovic is "emotional and proud" to have signed for Juventus, declaring the move an "easy" decision despite rival interest and backlash from Fiorentina fans.

Vlahovic moved from Fiorentina to Juve for €75million in the biggest deal of the January transfer window.

The 17-goal striker – tied with Ciro Immobile at the top of Serie A's scoring charts – was said to have turned down approaches from Arsenal and Newcastle United before heading for Turin.

That was a call that frustrated Fiorentina supporters, who have grown used to seeing their top players poached by rivals Juve.

The Curva Fiesole group described Vlahovic as "another small man without b****, without honour and without respect" and "a coward" for joining the Bianconeri.

Presented as a Juve player on Tuesday, however, Vlahovic was delighted with his choice.

"I am emotional and proud to have signed for Juventus," he said. "I am ready to give my all for this glorious club to reach its objectives.

 

"The choice was easy. The Juventus DNA: the desire to fight, to never give up, to aim to be the best – all these elements are also part of my character. I fit in here.

"I want to the thank the president and everyone else who made this move possible."

Still, Vlahovic had a word for Fiorentina, adding: "I want to thank everyone at Fiorentina who helped me mature and make me the player I am today."

The 22-year-old was the most sought-after forward last month, but fellow superstars Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are expected to be on the move later in the year.

As Vlahovic seemingly emerges as a challenger to those two as his generation's top talent, he said: "I am following my own path. How far I'll reach, I don't know, but I'll give my all to achieve as much as possible."

Dusan Vlahovic has been labelled a "coward" by Fiorentina ultras for joining fierce rivals Juventus.

The Serbia international completed a €70million switch between the Serie A sides on Friday, the day he turned 22.

Vlahovic had previously turned down the offer of a new contract with Fiorentina, forcing the club's hand somewhat as he had just 18 months to run on his existing deal.

After reportedly rejecting proposals from Premier League sides Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle United among others, Vlahovic instead opted for fellow Italian club Juventus.

Having also lost Federico Bernardeschi and Federico Chiesa to Juve in recent years, Vlahovic's choice of club did not go down well with Fiorentina's devoted supporters.

The Partizan Belgrade academy product's home is reported to have been under surveillance in the days leading up to the transfer, while some fans took to the streets to protest.

And in an open letter released on Saturday, fans representing the Curva Fiesole group took aim at Vlahovic, president Rocco Commisso and director Joe Barone.

"So it's the usual, another small man without b****, without honour and without respect who goes to a club with no identity or sense of belonging," the statement read.

"Another ownership that after expressing its love for the Viola people, does what all their predecessors did: sell our best players to our historic rivals. 

"We're no longer surprised by anything and certainly won't tear our hair out having lost yet another buffoon."

 

Commisso recently criticised Juventus for their financial mismanagement, and the Fiorentina ultras felt he could have done more to block the move going through.

"We ask you president, what did they tell you to convince you to do such a thing?" the statement added. "You, who told a child you would not sell any more players to Juventus. 

"Congratulate Barone. He must've been convincing to tell you who knows what to talk you into an operation that, yes, brought in money but made you lose face in front of an entire city and beyond.

"How is it possible that you decided to do deals with the ultimate evil of that system that until the other day you fought against? 

"We thought, with pride, that we'd left behind the dark period of sales for profit and deals with those who shall not be named, only to go straight back into it.

"A city that had totally embraced your battles and would've continued to embrace you in future, but now feels abandoned and betrayed."

Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

He has converted 28 big chances since the start of 2020-21, more than any other player in Serie A, while the 33 league goals scored in 2021 matched Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most in the Italian top flight during a calendar year. 

In a final dig at Vlahovic, the letter concluded: "We aren't prepared to watch our passion be trampled on, as your transfer market people don't seem to represent your way of approaching this adventure with us. 

"Our final message is for the squad, who are what really matter right now. You've proved that you have guts, we are with you. More battles await us and hopefully we'll prompt some regrets for those who left in the night like a coward."

Fiorentina have swiftly secured their replacement for Dusan Vlahovic after signing Brazilian Arthur Cabral from Swiss side Basel.

Vlahovic moved on to Juventus on Friday for an initial €70million, bringing an end to a saga that saw the 22-year-old targeted by a host of Europe's richest clubs.

Losing his services means Fiorentina were left with a gaping hole in their forward line, given Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

Now they have a player they consider capable of making a major impact himself, with Cabral, who inherits the number nine shirt from Vlahovic, having shown prolific scoring form in the Swiss Super League and the Europa Conference League.

Announcing the deal, Fiorentina said: "ACF Fiorentina is delighted to announce the signing of Arthur Mendonca Cabral from FC Basel 1893 on a permanent transfer."

Neither side has disclosed the fee involved, although reports in Switzerland have put it around the €16.5million mark.

Cabral scored 65 goals in 106 matches for Basel, also assisting 17 times, and this season he has managed 27 goals and eight assists in just 31 games.

He came to Basel in August 2019, initially on loan from Brazilian giants Palmeiras, before the move was made permanent at the end of his first season.

In 2021, he was named the Swiss Super League's player of the year after helping Basel finish second in the table to runaway champions Young Boys.

Cabral joins a Fiorentina side who sit seventh in Serie A, just outside the European places, with Vincenzo Italiano's men next in action on February 5 when they face eighth-placed Lazio.

It wasn't so long ago that the notion of Juventus hoovering up talent from Serie A rivals would have been seen in a negative light by most Italian football fans.

But while their domination of Italy's top division only really ended last season when Inter brought the Bianconeri's nine-year subjugation of Serie A to a halt, their current situation would make you think it was far longer since they were a challenger.

When the season resumes after this international break, Juve will go into their next fixture at least 11 points off the top, down in fifth. For years their recruitment has been muddled and misguided, with Aaron Ramsey's fringe squad status the perfect embodiment of that.

But Dusan Vlahovic's arrival shows there is life in the Old Lady yet, and given the striker's rise to prominence, this move is also potentially massive for Serie A in general.

Fiorentina hadn't been shy about their desire to cash in on the Serbian, who turned 22 on Friday. They have been very public about how they simply could not afford to lose out on a transfer fee, a situation that was quickly threatening to become a real issue given his contract was due to expire in 2023.

Pretty much all of Europe's biggest clubs were linked with Vlahovic at some point over the past 12 months, and for a while most people's money would have been on him moving to England.

"Oh, another emerging talent scurrying off to chase the big bucks of the Premier League, how predictable," many 'calcio' fans were presumably muttering to themselves as… *checks notes*… Arsenal and Tottenham circled.

As the story reportedly went, Vlahovic's agent didn't seriously consider those two in the end. Whether it might have been a different story for Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United or even Chelsea is unclear, but a coup it remains for Juve.

Vlahovic's impact on Italian football, particularly over the past 18 months, has been significant. Some have suggested he's Serie A's answer to Erling Haaland – perhaps a slight exaggeration, but there's a reason Juve are investing in a guy who in 2021, let's not forget, became only the second player in the past 60 years to net 33 Serie A goals over a single calendar year.

Juve's attraction to him makes absolute sense when you consider a metric as reductive – yet, crucial – as goals. Following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit last year, the Bianconeri were left with a gaping maw in terms of finishing ability. The faith placed in Alvaro Morata to pick up the slack was as optimistic as it was naive, as the Spaniard has five in 22 Serie A games.

Vlahovic should, in theory, provide them with a number nine who is dedicated to goals. As Fiorentina's focal point this term, he has recorded 87 shots (second-most among Serie A players) and scored 15 non-penalty goals across all competitions.

Some might point to the fact those 15 strikes are a considerable increase on his non-penalty xG (expected goals) of 10.2, and there's obviously a chance he won't prove to be quite so clinical for Juve, but it clearly shows they are buying a player brimming with belief.

Similarly, being surrounded by better players in Turin may mean Vlahovic doesn't have to try as many low-xG shots. A quick look at his shot map in Serie A this season shows a significant variation in goal distances, which obviously has an impact on his xG per shot, which is 0.11 (excluding penalties).

That may not mean anything in isolation, but when you compare that to Tammy Abraham's 0.18, there's quite a gulf. The England striker seems to be better at getting into clear-cut goalscoring situations, but if Vlahovic is already proving this deadly from worse positions, imagine what he could do if he improves.

It's worth noting that by no means does Vlahovic only have eyes for goal. In fact, among 'conventional' strikers in Serie A this season, only four – and Paulo Dybala, nominally a creator anyway – have had more involvements in shot-ending sequences without taking the shot (45).

That speaks to Vlahovic's link-up play and his effectiveness at knitting attacks together in the final third, a skill that is not to every striker's liking. Yet he manages to fulfil this function without it being to the detriment of his goals output.

At Juve, assuming he links up in attack with Dybala, there may be less need for him to get as involved and that could potentially be how he improves his record of getting into higher xG situations.

It's fair to assume Juve would see that pay dividends on the goals front, given he already only averages 2.2 touches per shot inside the box – that's only fractionally more than Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo and Haaland (all 2.0), showing how he's more of an instinctive finisher than the likes of Mohamed Salah (3.1) and Kylian Mbappe (3.3), who are more about dribbling and beating defenders.

The fact is, Vlahovic still has elements to his game that could still improve, yet he's already performing at a high level. He may be young, but Juve have signed a player who can go straight into the team, which will presumably start being built around him.

Whether Massimiliano Allegri is the right coach for this new Juventus is another debate, but the acquisition of Vlahovic could be a game-changer.

At the very least, it's a genuine boost for Serie A to keep arguably its finest young player in the league despite the Premier League waving its vast sums in his direction.

With Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku gone, Vlahovic is surely primed to be Serie A's new poster boy.

Juventus have completed the signing of highly rated Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina for a fee of €70million.

The striker, who turned 22 on Friday, agreed to a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Bianconeri and passed a medical.

Juve will pay the €70m fee over three financial years, plus additional costs of €11.6m. A further €10m will be due to Fiorentina should Vlahovic meet certain sporting objectives.

Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

He has been linked with a host of top clubs across Europe after his impressive form over the past two seasons.

Vlahovic joins Massimiliano Allegri's Juve team, who have often struggled to turn possession into goals this season, having scored just 34 times across 23 Serie A games.

That means their attack is the 11th-best in the league, way behind leading scorers Inter (53), while Fiorentina have scored 41 times so far with Vlahovic on board.

Serbia international Vlahovic, who joined La Viola from Partizan in 2018, has converted 28 big chances since the start of last season, more than any other player in Serie A.

 

His tally of 21 goals during 2020-21 was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25).

Vlahovic also netted 33 league goals in 2021; matching Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the most scored in the Italian top-flight during a calendar year. 

Last week, Fiorentina chief executive Joe Barone confirmed the club were open to selling Vlahovic, who subsequently missed Sunday's draw with Cagliari due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Vlahovic's arrival in Turin may pave the way for Alvaro Morata to leave Juve, with Barcelona reportedly keen on signing the Spain international, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Every league seems to have those teams that just produce talent on an apparently non-stop basis, before those players inevitably get picked off by the bigger boys.

In Germany, you can't move for former Schalke or Stuttgart players. There's Lyon and Monaco in France, Athletic Bilbao and Valencia in Spain, Southampton and Aston Villa in England.

In Italy, that team is probably Fiorentina, who are in the same position once again after La Viola sold star striker Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus in a €70million deal.

Stats Perform takes a look at some of the biggest names in Italian football who made a name for themselves with the team from Tuscany, and what they went on to achieve in the game.

 

Roberto Baggio

Having begun his career at Vicenza, The Divine Ponytail's move to Fiorentina saw his star rise as he spent five impressive years in the purple shirt.

However, after he helped Fiorentina to the 1990 UEFA Cup final, only to be defeated over two ill-tempered legs by their great rivals Juventus, salt was very much rubbed into the fans' wounds as the Bianconeri paid a then world-record fee to take Baggio.

Reports claimed that fans hurled bricks, chains and Molotov cocktails at Fiorentina's headquarters, and for the two days after the transfer was announced, club president Flavio Pontello took shelter in the stadium, with 50 injuries and nine arrests recorded.

Baggio would only improve his reputation further at Juve, winning the UEFA Cup in 1993, before securing a league and cup double two years later, scoring 115 goals in 200 games across five seasons before moving to Milan, where he won another Scudetto in his first year.

After being dismissed by Fabio Capello at San Siro in 1997, Baggio had an impressive season at Bologna where he scored a personal best 22 league goals, before moving back to the city of Milan with Inter.

Things did not work out at the Nerazzurri but he still went on to enjoy four final seasons in Serie A with Brescia, where he reached double figures in each campaign before retiring in 2004.

Gabriel Batistuta

There is arguably no more iconic player in Fiorentina history. A striker who football fans of a certain vintage remember banging in goals on Sunday afternoons during the nineties.

Unlike most of the players on this list, Batistuta actually spent the majority of his career at Fiorentina, staying for nine years before his big-money move to Roma.

The man affectionately known as 'Batigol' remains the club's record goalscorer with 159 goals in 198 games, though it does help his record that people like Vlahovic are usually sold before they can get anywhere near that total.

Though he had won a Coppa Italia, Batistuta wanted a Scudetto and moved to Roma in 2000 in order to get it. It was the highest fee ever paid for a player over the age of 30, a record which stood until Leonardo Bonucci moved to Milan from Juventus in 2017.

It seemed like a justified move when Batistuta scored 20 goals, including netting against his former club, on the way to winning the title in his first season in the Italian capital, but was unable to reach those heights again, scoring just 11 over the following season and a half before a loan move to Inter.

Rui Costa

The Portuguese maestro had made a name for himself at Benfica before moving to Italy in 1994 and making 230 appearances in seven years with La Viola, winning two Coppa Italia titles.

However, like Batistuta, Rui Costa was moved on for big money to try and help the club's finances, ending up at Milan for a then club-record fee of around £35m.

Rui Costa spent five years at San Siro where he won six trophies, including the Champions League in 2003 and Scudetto a year later. He moved back to Benfica in 2006 after the emergence of Kaka saw his minutes reduced.

Federico Bernardeschi

Bernardeschi came through the youth ranks at Fiorentina, with big things expected of him as he burst onto the scene after an impressive loan at Crotone in Serie B in the 2013-14 season.

During three years in the first team, Bernardeschi scored 23 goals in 93 games and registered 11 assists, which unfortunately for Viola fans saw old enemies Juve come swooping in again.

He has claimed three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies in Turin, as well as being a part of the Italy squad that won the rescheduled Euro 2020 last year.

Bernardeschi, who has scored just 11 times in 170 games for Juve, largely remains a squad player under Massimiliano Allegri, in part because of this next man...

Federico Chiesa

Another Fiorentina youth product, Chiesa had all eyes on him as soon as he broke through due to being the son of former Viola and Italy striker Enrico Chiesa.

Chiesa Jr made his first-team debut, somewhat ironically, against Juve at the age of 18, and over the next couple of years began to establish himself as the potential future of the club.

More suited to playing out wide than his father, who was a traditional central striker, Chiesa's managed 34 goals and 19 assists in 153 games at Fiorentina but it his tenacity, pace and skill that sets him apart.

That was enough to tempt – yes, you guessed it – Juve to come along and take him on a two-year loan, with an obligation to make it permanent at the end of the current campaign.

Chiesa had an impressive first season at Juve, including scoring the winning goal in the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta, before starring for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign, scoring twice in seven appearances and making the team of the tournament.

He started 2021-22 in sharp form, only for a serious knee injury to end his season early.

 

There also must be honourable mentions for the likes of Luca Toni, whose emergence at Fiorentina earned him a lucrative move to Bayern Munich, and Francesco Toldo - he was sold to Inter at the same time that Costa was packed off to Milan to ease club debts.

Juan Cuadrado (now at Juventus) and Marcos Alonso were both sold to Chelsea for decent money two years apart, while Felipe Melo (Juventus), Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) and Matias Vecino (Inter) continued Fiorentina's philosophy of buying low and selling high.

The path well-trodden out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi has often led to bigger and better things, and that bodes well for Vlahovic now that it appears he will be the next in line.

He seems to have all the tools to be the star striker this current, rather dour, edition of the Bianconeri require. Indeed, Vlahovic's 33 goals in Serie A last season matched the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo at Juve in 2020.

It might be tough to take (again) for Viola fans, but if history is anything to go by, their next hero won't be far away.

Of course, he'll probably also sign for Juve eventually, but that will just be a case of crossing the Ponte Vecchio when they come to it.

Juventus have completed the signing of highly rated Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina for a fee of €70million.

The striker, who turned 22 on Friday, agreed to a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Bianconeri and passed a medical.

Juve will pay the €70m fee over three financial years, plus additional costs of €11.6m. A further €10m will be due to Fiorentina should Vlahovic meet certain sporting objectives.

Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

He has been linked with a host of top clubs across Europe after his impressive form over the past two seasons.

Vlahovic joins Massimiliano Allegri's Juve team, who have often struggled to turn possession into goals this season, having scored just 34 times across 23 Serie A games.

That means their attack is the 11th-best in the league, way behind leading scorers Inter (53), while Fiorentina have scored 41 times so far with Vlahovic on board.

Serbia international Vlahovic, who joined La Viola from Partizan in 2018, has converted 28 big chances since the start of last season, more than any other player in Serie A.

 

His tally of 21 goals during 2020-21 was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25).

Vlahovic also netted 33 league goals in 2021; matching Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the most scored in the Italian top-flight during a calendar year. 

Last week, Fiorentina chief executive Joe Barone confirmed the club were open to selling Vlahovic, who subsequently missed Sunday's draw with Cagliari due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Vlahovic's arrival in Turin may pave the way for Alvaro Morata to leave Juve, with Barcelona reportedly keen on signing the Spain international, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Dusan Vlahovic is primed to complete his move to Juventus after arriving for his medical on Friday.

The 21-year-old striker is set to seal a reported €75million switch from Fiorentina, which looks likely to be confirmed before the weekend.

Juve posted a tweet showing the Serbian arriving to undertake the formalities of his move.

Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

He has been linked with a host of top clubs across Europe after his impressive form over the past two seasons.

Vlahovic will join a Juve team who have often struggled to turn possession into goals this season, with Massimiliano Allegri's men having scored just 34 times across 23 Serie A games.

That means their attack is the 11th-best in the league, way behind leading scorers Inter (53), while Fiorentina have scored 41 times so far with Vlahovic on board.

Serbia international Vlahovic, who joined La Viola from Partizan in 2018, has converted 28 big chances since the start of last season, more than any other player in Serie A.

 

His tally of 21 goals during 2020-21 was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25).

Vlahovic also netted 33 league goals in 2021; matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top-flight during a calendar year. 

Last week, Fiorentina chief executive Joe Barone confirmed the club were open to selling Vlahovic, who subsequently missed Sunday's draw with Cagliari due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Vlahovic's imminent signing may pave the way for Alvaro Morata to leave Juve, with Barcelona reportedly keen on signing the Spain international, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

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