Well, my personal universe may very well disintegrate from confusion and disbelief if the most fantastic rumor I read this week - that Monaco is looking to buy Cristiano Ronaldo for 85 million Euros - comes to fruition. But even if this or something similarly fantastic happens, Fiorentina's concerns in the market will be both less glamorous and more important than the vanity purchases of oil-exploiting billionaires. Now, as I stow my soap box safely away, we come to Fiorentina's main purchasing intentions this off-season, which, despite the horsemen of the mercato-apocalypse flying around on Twitter, are only threefold: signing a goalkeeper, a defensive midfielder, and a center forward option.
The goalkeeper discussion has been ongoing for a while now, and the prominent name remains Michael Agazzi. The 28 year old Cagliari keeper has had a very good year and is in his prime, but I am still hoping to hear Costel Pantilimon's name come up. The Manchester City reserve and Romanian international is 6' 8'' and hungry to prove himself.
The David Pizarro saga, if I am honest, cuts me deeper than the any of the other Fiorentina madness so far. A newcomer to the side but not to Serie A, he had the tactical and technical savvy to propel the whole team, especially in the first half of the season. He was adopted by the fans during a tough personal time, and even wore the captain's armband. When I first heard about his histrionics, I thought he was angling for a contract renegotiation and a pay raise (he is on criminally low wages for a player of his caliber). However, things have apparently gotten so bad behind closed doors that - according to Florentine radio - the Pek has to apologize profusely to both coach and administration before he can be confirmed as the metronome of Fiorentina's midfield. Otherwise, he'll likely have a 4-5 million euro price tag attached to him and be offered abroad.
With one-time Viola target Jordy Clasie confirmed at Feyenoord, the search for a regista / mediano (deep-lying playmaker and midfield enforcer, respectively) has recommenced in earnest. Catania's Francesco Lodi is a promising but expensive replacement, while the rumors of Massimo Ambrosini make me laugh-cry. With positionally flexible players like Adem Ljajic, Matias Fernandez, Rafal Wolski, and Matias Vecino around, there are whispers of Montella possibly changing system, possibly moving Fiorentina's main scheme to a double pivot 4-2-3-1 system like that used by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Whether it is worthwhile for Borja and Aquilani to stay further from the box and maintain more disciplined defensive positions in order to include a player like Palermo's Josep Ilicic remains to be seen.
Obviously, as slakas mentioned earlier this week, the Stevan Jovetic transfer debate has (if possible) gained complexity and importance this week with his statements to the Gazzetta dello Sport over the weekend. A big transfer move for the player looks to now be in the interest of both player and club if one can be found, and the JoJo bargaining chip appears crucial to obtaining the high-calibre box poacher both the society and the fans desire (whether Jovetic stays or goes could also prove crucial to extending Ljajic's contract, with the Della Valles rumored to be interested in terminating all business with mega-agent Ramadani; this would also involve offloading Seferovic this summer... But this is all speculative at the moment).
The interest in Bayern Munich striker and German international Mario Gomez is very real and appears to be the most realistic "star" addition Fiorentina could find this summer. He has allegedly agreed to take a cut in salary in exchange for regular play with a good side, but negotiating a fee with Bayern in the range of 14-16 million and offers from other clubs could complicate the matter. With the near-done addition of veteran Malaga winger Joaquin Sanchez for a frankly astonishing 2 million Euros (according to Di Marzio), the Fiorentina frontline could very quickly become one of the most versatile and competitive in Europe if Gomez were to come to Tuscany.
Much is still to be unraveled in the coming weeks (especially resolutions of the many player loan situations still hanging in balance), but with the Viola's needs and intentions crystallized, I am excited to report again soon with more specific interesting names and juicy(er) gossip. For now, however, we are left in the unsavory position of very clearly seeing the needs that still separate a great from a truly special side, and hoping that our mercato magicians are shrewd and lucky enough to bring us through this summer stronger than before.
New players for the coming season so far: Marcos Alonso (left-sided midfielder / defender, 22, Bolton), Oleksandr Pavlovych Yakovenko (left-sided winger / striker, 25, R.S.C. Anderlecht), Joaquin *unofficial* (winger, 31, Malaga) Matias Vecino (attacking mid, 21, from Uruguay with visa now eligible).
Hot Rumored Ins: Mario Gomez (striker, 27, Bayern Munich), Josep Ilicic (attacking mid, 25, Palermo), Massimo Ambrosini (defensive mid, 36, Milan), Cyril Thereau (left wing / striker, 30, Chievo Verona).
Hot Rumored Outs: Jovetic (Chelsea, Arsenal, Juventus), Viviano (Palermo, Torino), Pizarro (Manchester City), Migliaccio (Livorno), Seferovic (Livorno, Chievo & Hellas Verona), Neto (Bologna, Cagliari, Vasco da Gama).