“Being in Florence is really the best,” new Fiorentina signing Giovanni Simeone told La Nazione in September. “I was good at Genoa, but I wanted to grow, I wanted to make a leap higher and Fiorentina was the best choice. I immediately said yes to the Viola.
“As soon as I told my father about the offer he was very happy, he really likes [Valentin] Eysseric, while he considers [Federico] Chiesa to be a phenomenon. Together, myself and Federico will obtain great results and great satisfaction.”
However, his 20-year-old Viola team-mate Federico Chiesa is also the son of a famous footballer, his father Enrico even having played in Florence alongside Gabriel Batistuta. Until recently Fiorentina could also boast having the son of legendary attacking midfielder Gheorghe Hagi in the ranks, until 19-year-old Ianis returned to his father’s Viitorul Constanta back in Romania.
Both players – although far from having achieved what their potential suggests that they can – have clearly demonstrated a will to work to create a reputation in their own right rather than being satisfied to rest on the laurels of the career their predecessors had built.
For example, in December local newspaper La Nazione reported that a naturally right-footed Chiesa had been voluntarily staying behind after training to work on skills with his left.
His father Enrico was always a hard-working player himself, and he seems keen to instil the same kind of attitude in young Federico. “My dad once told me: you only become a Serie A player when you have made at least 300 appearances,” Chiesa Jr. told La Repubblica earlier this season. He has a long way to go, having only made his debut at the beginning of last season and since gaining 49 Serie A starts, but his dedication is clearly paying off.
Fiorentina were keen to bounce back last Saturday, after a humiliating 4-1 defeat at home to relegation-fodder Hellas Verona the weekend before sparked a dramatic walkout and protests outside the stadium.
They made hard work of doing so away to Bologna; a dull and uninspired game strangely seeing scores even after both sides netted directly from corners. But up popped Chiesa with a moment of sheer quality, slamming home with his less favoured left foot after beating two defenders inside the box.
Simeone had an unusually quiet game that day, but he too has enjoyed moments of brilliance since moving to Florence from Genoa this summer. The youngster has particularly impressed in the air, scoring four of his seven goals with his head. Statistics from Squawka also reveal “Cholito” is also laying on one chance per match for his team-mates and has popped up where it matters, scoring against Roma, Milan and Inter in home matches this term.
For Fiorentina, having two sons of famous players can be a double-edged sword. They benefit from the youngsters’ familiarity with the lifestyle of a footballer, and their desire to push harder to create their own legacy. However, they also garner intense interest from the media, the duo always under the spotlight in terms of the transfer market. Indeed, the talented Chiesa is reportedly a Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Liverpool transfer target while Simeone has been subject of Tottenham transfer rumours.
Would the speculation have been the same if they did not have famous fathers? Probably not. But the way they deal with interest from bigger clubs may be very different as time goes on. At the moment, there doesn’t seem any danger of either leaving. Their parents will understand the duo are developing well at a medium-sized club like Fiorentina, away from pressure and scrutiny that would prove counterproductive to their development.
In the more long-term future however, it seems Simeone would be the more likely to move on, just like he did when he made the jump to Fiorentina from Genoa. With his father Diego at the helm at a successful European side, he may see his current situation as little more than a stepping stone as he seeks to enhance his already excellent career prospects.
Perhaps it is naïve to suggest, but for Chiesa things seem different. This is a young man who grew up in Florence, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram waving a purple Fiorentina flag as a child, and was filmed as a boy saying he wanted to be the next one to score the goals for the team after goalscoring hero Batistuta had departed.
This is unspeakably charming. Young Federico Chiesa is asked who will score goals after Batistuta leaves Fiorentina. Initially says 'Toldo', but dad points out that he's a keeper. Changes answer to 'me'. Turns out, he was right… pic.twitter.com/tNKsgkbFu9 (via @sottolacurva)
— Paolo Bandini (@Paolo_Bandini) January 8, 2018
With many new faces at the Stadio Artemio Franchi it is Chiesa who has now become the fans’ favourite. their representative in difficult times. He has the talent to move on to bigger and better things, but he may just surprise us – just like Batistuta did – by remaining at this proud Tuscan club for a long time to come.