By Renato Maisini
Maxi Lopez is becoming increasingly likely to sign for newly-promoted Torino as he appears set to shun the prospect of returning to Catania, Goal.com understands.
The Argentine forward joined AC Milan on loan during the January transfer window, with a view to a permanent transfer at the end of the season, but Rossoneri CEO Adriano Galliani revealed last month that the club had decided against enacting their option to buy the player.
Lopez has been linked with a number of Serie A clubs in recent weeks, including Fiorentina, Bologna and even Juventus, while there has also been talk of his proposed switch to Fulham, which collapsed in January, being resurrected.
There is, of course, the possibility of the former Barcelona man returning to Catania but having done his utmost to secure a move to San Siro in January, Lopez is now reluctant to go back to Sicily as he feels that such a move would be a backward step and an admission that his time with Milan was a failure.
As Catania general director Sergio Gasparin has already explained: "He's an important player for us, but as well as his skills, he should also have the desire to wear the Rossazzurra shirt if he is to stay here."
Lopez spoke enthusiastically of Fiorentina on May 29 and a move to the Artemio Franchi would most likely reunite him coach Vincenzo Montella, who is expected to take charge of the Viola having parted company with Catania.
However, while the pair enjoyed a cordial working relationship, Montella does not see Lopez compatible with the brand of football he intends to implement in Florence.
Bologna, meanwhile, are on the look-out for a new No.9 following the departure of club legend Marco Di Vaio and will most likely have money to spend, as the much-coveted Gaston Ramirez expected to be sold on for a fee in the region of €20 million.
However, Turin is Lopez's more likely destination. Catania enjoy excellent relations with Torino, as evidenced by the co-ownership agreement which saw Mirco Antenucci move to the Stadio Olimpico during the 2011 January transfer window.
The Sicilians are also keen on signing Granata captain Rolando Bianchi. Indeed, Catania failed with a bid to sign the former Manchester City attacker earlier this year, but it is believed that a fresh approach will prove successful if Lopez is offered as part of the deal.
The player and his agent are in no rush to make a decision, though. They are willing to wait until July in the hope of attracting the interest of a more illustrious club, but should a more attractive offer not materialise, then Lopez will most likely join up with Torino.