As we all recline in a post-holiday stupor thanks to food, drink, and spending time with our families, we must still reflect on the important things. Namely, Fiorentina. To help you reorder your priorities accordingly, here are our 5 Things To Watch as Serie A luxuriates in its infuriating winter break.
1) Contract wrangling. Fiorentina have 8 senior contracts expiring in the summer, including those of Alberto Aquilani, Norberto Neto, David Pizarro, and Manuel Pasqual. Pasqual and Neto are already being courted by other clubs under suspicion that new deals may not be agreed, while Aquilani looks more and more likely to be allowed to walk away for free in the summer. Add into that mix the fact that Khouma Babacar and Federico Bernardeschi have contracts that expire in 2016, and it becomes clear that Fiorentina legal retainer will be kept quite busy in meetings this winter. Situations appear to change week to week, but we'll all be listening closely for new whispers coming from Florence.
2) Adorable holiday player vacation/holiday pictures. 'Nuff said.
3) Keeping half an eye on Tottenham Hotspur's form. This is premature as of yet, but since the Premier League does the fun thing of continuing to play through the holidays, Fiorentina fans can watch Spurs play some big matches in the festive period. They host Manchester United in the first kick off tomorrow, and then play league-topping Chelsea in a New Year's Day London derby. Do be sure to check out the excellent work by the good folks over at Cartilage Free Captain as well!
4) Whether we can offload Ilicic for someone who is, well, good. I realize now (after my last post on the Slovenian potentially departing in January) that there are still some Iliciites among the other, clean brethren below the line. May the Lord Batistuta forgive you for your sins.
In all seriousness though, it's hard to deny that Ilicic isn't having much (positive) impact on our first team, and with his big salary and still-for-a-while-decent market value, is the most obvious move to free up some space in January. Vincenzo Montella apparently wants a winger and a striker in the window, and Ilicic moving on would open the door to bring one or both of these players in. The most exciting Ilicic-related-rumor so far is that Roma were possibly open to a swap deal for Alessandro Florenzi, which got me in quite a tizzy despite it being very farfetched. Udinese forward Luis Muriel is another "hot" name that could be swapped with our ex-Palermo enigma. Gazzetta dello Sport has, however, reported that Ilicic has to date turned down all offers from other clubs "despite wanting to leave," blocking more Fiorentina transfer planning.
However this situation resolves itself, the winter mercato rumor machine is already trundling into 2nd gear. Companionship is the best way to survive the absurd acceleration towards the cliff of stupidity.
5) Updates on Giuseppe Rossi's health. Yes folks, that's right, 4 whole months have flown by already since Rossi last went under the knife on his cursed knee, and Pepito is heading back to Vail, Colorado in the coming days to do a final check on his knee's rehabilitation. If he is given the all clear, he could begin working on the field again as early as the New Year.
Watch this space in between wonderful holiday celebrations everyone, and forza viola!