Dusan Vlahovic scored a decisive brace in Fiorentina’s 4-3 win over Milan, proving that he could become the heir to his idol Zlatan Ibrahimovic, writes Lorenzo Bettoni at the Artemio Franchi.
Those who follow Serie A steadily know that the comparison between Vlahovic and Erling Haaland is not exaggerated.
They are two complete centre-forwards, both born in 2000, both ruthless in front of the goal.
Thanks to his brace against Milan, Vlahovic has become the Fiorentina player with the most Serie A goals scored in a single calendar year, equalling Kurt Hamrin, who had netted 27 in 1960. The same as Vlahovic, with more than a month remaining before the end of 2021.
The Serbia international is now the second most prolific striker in Europe’s top five leagues, with one goal more than Haaland and 11 fewer than Lewandowski.
Vlahovic has scored one goal every 116 minutes, Lewandowski has one every 65 and Haaland one every 88. Arguably, he’s been the most surprising player of the year, earning comparisons with some game legends, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
His brace against Milan is even more meaningful because the 21-year-old scored it in front of the Milan talisman, his idol and role model.
“Ibrahimovic never allowed anyone to command him, then the monstrous plays… Let’s leave it. When we lost 3-2 in Florence, I took advantage of the fact that he might not be very angry and asked him for the shirt,” Vlahovic said a few days ago, recalling his last meeting with Ibra in March.
“He signed it for me, we took a photo and wrote the dedication in our language. He told me to continue and never give up. I’m not very good at speaking when I meet an idol.”
This time, Fiorentina took all three points in a spectacular match at the Artemio Franchi, with Vlahovic and Ibra scoring two each.
It’s not common to see a striker with the same qualities as Vlahovic, especially at his age. Against Milan, he showed all his potential, not only with his goals. His attitude, his physical impact, the quality of his passes remember those of Ibra in his early days.
Arguably, the Swede wasn’t as lethal as Vlahovic at his same age. Working under Fabio Capello at Juventus helped him improve in front of goal, while Vlahovic seems to have a natural predisposition to finding the net.
This doesn’t mean he will achieve the same results as Ibra during his career, but the start seems more than promising.
One year ago, Vlahovic wasn’t even a regular starter in Florence, so much so the Tuscans signed Aleksandr Kokorin in January, in a desperate attempt to get a striker who could score enough goals to guarantee Serie A survival.
The Russian has never got regular playing time in Florence as Vlahovic scored 14 goals in Serie A from mid-February until the end of 2020-21, adding ten more this term.
However, his stunning performance tonight may leave a bittersweet taste in the mouth of La Viola fans, given that Vlahovic is destined to leave the club.
President Rocco Comisso announced last month that the 21-year-old won’t sign a contract extension at the Artemio Franchi, with his current deal running out in 2023.
Tottenham, Juventus, Arsenal have been mentioned as possible destinations for the Serbian even if he doesn’t seem willing to join the Gunners.
Vlahovic could leave the Artemio Franchi as soon as in January for a fee between €70m and €80m. Nobody expected him to stay in Florence forever, but surely Fiorentina fans deserve to see their star in town until the end of the campaign.
It’s still unclear whether or not it will happen, but today Vlahovic proved that he could pick up the Ibrahimovic baton right in front of him.
Fiorentina can still enjoy their star for some time knowing that whoever signs Vlahovic in the future gets something similar to what Ibra could offer some 20 years ago.
Time will tell if Vlahovic will fulfil his potential, becoming as strong as the Swede. Surely, the early signs are already quite exciting.