It's a bit unusual for a club to officially announce that a new deal won't happen. Usually either a renewal eventually comes through or the player is shuffled off in the transfer window (or, in Fiorentina's case, sometimes players leave for free… Looking at you Riccardo Montolivo). But Fiorentina took the unusual step of confirming today that Norberto Murara Neto was not going to renew with club.
In a brief statement posted on their website, the club announced the news, mainly focusing on the player's perspective. Neto's statement (as told by Fiorentina) is pretty cut and dry: "Neto doesn't want to renew… he is sure that he has definitely concluded his professional experience with the club." The Brazilian keeper also emphasized that he is not leaving because of "the economic aspect" but rather because "he wants to decide autonomously his own future."
The fact that Fiorentina was never going to be a part of his future is quite a low blow to fans who, like myself, defended Neto when he struggled, and cheered with great enthusiasm when he confirmed himself to be a maturing, talented keeper. His passion on the field and his attachment to the group in pictures and interviews away from the field, have all apparently belied an indifference towards the club and fans who supported him; he will almost certainly be whistled and abused by Fiorentina fans if he were to start the next game in goal. In fact, part of the rationale behind this unusual official statement from the club may be to deprive Vincenzo Montella of the option of continuing to start Neto while he is negotiating with other clubs.
Many fans and journalists have already come forward to accuse Fiorentina of mismanaging the contract situation, but I would argue that in this instance (unlike so many others), the Viola bosses made the right moves. They awaited to see if a young and certainly inconsistent keeper would live up to the promise seen by the coach, then moved to reward him with a handsome new contract once the promise was confirmed. It is only partially their fault if the player capitalizes on the faith shown by a nurturing club to leap to a more lucrative home. Yes we should have done more to secure our assets, but few could have anticipated the change in Neto's fortunes in just 12 short months. He should, maybe, have a longer memory too.
For several months now, many clubs have been rumored to be circling around the 25 year old, whose contract expires this summer. Liverpool, Juventus, and Roma are the chief pretenders for his signature, with both Liverpool and Roma in clear need of a better keeper who is more courageous off his line. Undoubtedly offers from clubs offering higher wages and potential Champions League action has played a role in Neto's decision. The rest of the month will now certainly be a free for all, with Fiorentina looking to unload the now-unwanted Neto to the highest bidder before the end of the transfer window.