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Stevan Jovetic FiorentinaFiorentina’s optimism ahead of the upcoming Serie A season was dealt a massive blow following the devastating injury suffered by emerging talent Stevan Jovetic which lowered expectations and  affected the morale within the Gigliati camp. Jovetic is a rising star and proved his potential last season in Serie A and more significantly in the Champions League when he led La Viola to important victories against Liverpool in the group stage. The Montenegro international scored twice against Liverpool to guide the Gigliati to a 2-0 win and also managed another brace against Bayern Munich in a 3-2 win which did not suffice as Fiorentina suffered elimination in the Round of 16 due to the away goals rule.

While the absence of Jovetic is a major blow to Fiorentina’s aspirations of challenging for the coveted fourth position which would permit the club to compete in the Champions League qualifying rounds, the Gigliati have a plethora of talented players such as wing-back Juan Manuel Vargas. The Peruvian international is a versatile player who can operate all over the left flank including as a left-back or a left- winger. Vargas is renowned for his crossing and shooting ability with former coach Cesare Prandelli assigning him responsibility of taking set-pieces. Besides Vargas, the Gigliati have been able to retain Azzurri midfielder Riccardo Montolivo who is currently the club’s captain and one of the better central midfielders in Italy despite his baffling inconsistency and disappearing acts in certain matches. La Viola can also count on goal scorer Alberto Gilardino who was a disappointment in South Africa 2010 and the talented yet controversial Romanian Adrian Mutu who will make his return to Serie A following the end of his ban on October 29 of this year.

Another key player is goalkeeper Sebastien Frey who at one point was considered amongst the best in Europe despite being consistently overlooked by controversial France coach Raymond Domenech. Frey who is renowned for his excellent reflexes and stunning saves will now have an opportunity to stake a claim under new Les Bleus boss Laurent Blanc. New coach Siniša Mihajlović will be hoping to have Frey at his best and to have a fit Alessandro Gamberini after the centre-back suffered from two serious injuries last season. In addition to the more familiar names, fans should pay special attention to 18-year-old Adem Ljajic who is an attacking midfielder with great potential and a neat set of skills. Ljajic was at one point linked with a move to Manchester United yet no deal was signed due to the difficulty of obtaining a working permit for the young Serb.

Ljajic joined Fiorentina in January 2010 for a reported fee of €8 million highlighting once again the strong belief the management has in his abilities. With Jovetic out till February or March and Mutu serving his suspension, Ljajic should have an opportunity to shine and prove his worth. It might be difficult for Fiorentina to finish in the top four considering Inter, Roma and Milan are a class above and Juventus have taken solid steps to rebuild, but the tifosi can enjoy watching Fiorentina’s talented youngsters. In addition to Jovetic and Ljajic, the club has 17-year-old striker Khouma Babacar who was afforded some playing time by Prandelli with the Senegalese striker repaying the former coach’s faith with a goal in Coppa Italia and another in Serie A. Indeed, the future looks bright for La Viola!

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