Reports in Italy this morning have confirmed that Fiorentina captain Davide Astori has sadly passed away in his sleep, in his hotel room in Udinese. Fiorentina were set to play Udinese today before the shocking news came out of Italian press. As a Lazio blog, we usually wouldn’t feature pieces on players from other Serie A sides. However, in this case we will make an exception. This piece will be a tribute profile and analysis of the former Roma and Milan defender who played 14 times for Italy too. Our thoughts and condolences to go out to all those affected by this tragic news: Fiorentina F.C., Davide’s friends and importantly, Davide’s family.
Davide Astori was born on the 7th January 1987, in San Giovanni Bianco, Italy. Astori began playing football for his local team: Pontisola. At the age of 14, he joined AC Milan, where he spent five years in the club’s youth system, before turning professional and spending seasons on loan at Pizzighettone and Cremonese.
Prior to the 2008/2009 season, Cagliari signed Astori in a co-ownership deal with Milan for €1m. In 2009, after a successful season, Cagliari renewed their ownership with Milan to keep Astori for another season. The same happened in 2010. In the summer of 2011, Cagliari purchased the residual 50% registration rights from Milan for €3.5m. Astori remained at Cagliari until 2016, spending 8 years at the club, picking up 174 appearances. In this time, he turned down a €15m transfer to Spartak Moscow so that he could stay a Cagliari man and achieve his goals with the club.
Davide Astori spent a season on-loan at Roma, where he played 24 games with the capital city club. The next season, 2015/16, Astori signed for Fiorentina on loan, with an obligation for the side to buy. In 2016, Astori completed his move to Fiorentina permanently, for a fee of around €5m.
Davide Astori played over 100 times for Fiorentina and became the club’s captain, before sadly passing away on the 4th March 2018.
Playing Style and Analysis
The video above is sourced from GAEBBA on YouTube. By giving this a watch, you can see a bit more of the kind of defender Astori was. He was phenomenally confident on the ball and was able to get himself out of high pressure situations with his nifty footwork. In the video above, you can see him send strikers the complete other way with his quick turns on the ball. Not only is this brilliant to watch, and made Astori a fan favourite at all the clubs he played for, but it allowed him to play the role of a ball-playing defender. He could excellently link the defensive third to the midfield third in a matter of seconds. It is rare to see such a gifted centre-back who is better on the ball than some top-club forwards.
From 3:33, you can see what I mean when I say ball-playing defender. Time and time again, Astori was able to switch play to the far flank, allowing Fiorentina’s wingers to make good runs forward in acres of space. With these, Astori tended to drop into a more defensive-midfield position to make the pass, whilst dropping back into the back-line as soon as the pass is played. He was easily able to play lofted and ground through-balls alike, causing problems for the 3-at-the-back defences that most Serie A sides deploy.
His positioning, usually sat in the middle of Fiorentina’s defences, allowed him to be the ‘easy-way-out’ for the side’s other defenders. They passed the ball to Astori and he, with his incredible passing ability, could send the ball forward in a matter of seconds. As just one centre-back, he could move the play from defence to midfield and midfield to attack. He was a physical presence too, 188cm in height and weighing 80kg. From 7:11 onwards, you can see examples of Astori’s defensive capabilities. He was a master of the perfectly timed slide tackle and was constantly able to catch up with attackers breaking away and dispossess them.
From all of this, it can be agreed that Davide Astori was an extremely talented centre-back and one that both Fiorentina, and the football world will dearly miss.