The first drama of the summer mercato has arrived early and with an unsuspected fury, as every sports paper in Italy has an opinion to fire from the Double Barreled Silly Season Shotgun (TM), opinions painting in romantic (or not) tones the future of Vincenzo Montella and his possible successors. Montella signed a 5 year deal after his first season, one which includes a small buyout clause for the young Italian manager, and the Viola management does not seem particularly intentioned to fire the young Italian manager. Montella has secured European football for Fiorentina in each of his three seasons in charge in Florence, but is now perhaps looking at other opportunities.
Andrea Della Valle is planning to sit down to with Montella face to face this weekend, as he is returning from a business trip to China on Friday, and they will discuss the manager's future. It appears - from what he has actually told the media publicly - that Montella is not particularly unhappy in Florence, but he is making clear that he is ambitious and wants to coach a team (and work for a club) that is similarly minded. Montella has been quite open on the subject:
"For the future we have to make our evaluations... We have to see if there is the same enthusiasm both on my part and on the part of the club. I don't believe myself to be a better coach than what the club can offer me, it's [just] a discussion of evaluation and ambition in terms of what is possible."
While fans also want the club to move forward this summer, some have taken strong issue with Montella's frankness and attitude in expressing his views. Regardless, the outcome of the meeting will depend on how badly the ownership wants to keep Montella, and the promises that ADV is willing to make to the aeroplanino in terms of personnel. Regardless of whether Montella stays or goes, it will be an active offseason for Fiorentina, with Mario Gomez, Neto, and Alberto Aquilani all likely leaving, at least. The quality that arrives to replace the outgoing players - and, inherently, the way Fiorentina deal with Montella's demands - will speak volumes about the club's hopes for next season.
Of course Montella is not entirely autonomous in this negotiation, like Norberto Neto was in December. The Viola boss is still under contract for at least another two years with the aforementioned (and debated) buyout clause. Montella is on record that the buyout clause "doesn't exist," or rather, that there is a gentleman's agreement outside the contract that would make it easier for Montella to leave, but the club sources are pretty adamant that there is a buyout clause; it is all very confusing, in other words. What is clear is that Fiorentina are very unlikely to fire Montella outright, so either another club must make an offer and pay the Viola for their manager, or the contract must be dissolved by both parties, which could be a bit uglier than Montella might think.
In other words, this is a complex situation pending a negotiation, a situation that contains the continuing possibility that Montella will stay... But thankfully these nuances are not preventing Italian media from its usual wild speculation. In the two weeks since the second leg against Sevilla, I have counted at least 10 different names seriously mentioned as potential successors to Montella, and they range from the possible and cautiously optimistic (Di Francesco, Sarri, Spalletti) to the crazy or impossible (Mazzarri, Bielsa, even Unai Emery).