Racist and threatening banners targeting Dusan Vlahovic appeared outside Fiorentina’s Artemio Franchi stadium on Tuesday following reports that the Serbian striker is set to join Juventus.

Vlahovic is one of the most in-demand strikers in world football after a sensational 2021 in which he scored 33 goals in the calendar year.

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He has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, but reports in Italy suggest he is close to joining Juventus, prompting an angry reaction from Fiorentina fans.

One banner read: “Your guards won’t save your life, gypsy. It’s over for you,” while another read: “Vlahovic, gypsy s—.”

“Gypsy” is a term normally used in reference to someone from a traveling community. It is considered pejorative due to its history of insulting Roma people. It’s a term that has been co-opted by some, with heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury referring to himself as the “Gypsy King”.

In October, Fiorentina released a statement saying Vlahovic would not be renewing his contract, which caused tension between the 21-year-old and the club’s die-hard supporters.

Less than three weeks after the statement was released, Vlahovic refused to take a penalty against Cagliari which had been awarded in front of the ultras section of the crowd. He could be seen mouthing, “I don’t feel it” to a teammate.

Fiorentina have a long-standing rivalry with Juventus and a history of letting their best players go. Bianconeriwhich often provoked angry reactions.

In 1990, Roberto Baggio was transferred to Juve for 10.8 million dollars, which caused angry protests in the streets. Most recently, in 2020, Federico Chiesa was loaned out with an obligation to complete the deal for €40m plus €10m in variables.

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