For once the worst case transfer window scenario has come to pass in all its full horror, but at least this time the Fiorentina faithful have had nearly six months to brace themselves for the inevitable. The club announced in January that Norberto Murara Neto would not sign a new contract, and today Neto officially ended his tenure with the Viola after 5 years. The Brazilian keeper emerged last season as one of Fiorentina's most promising young starters, only to refuse new contracts and walk away as a free agent this summer.
The 25 year old will participate in the Copa America with Brazil this summer, but according to multiple sources, is expected to sign a contract with Juventus before leaving for South America. One can see why Juve would be an attractive destination for any player, with the Turin giants having recently won their 4th Scudetto in a row and now awaiting a Champions League Final against Barcelona that could result in a historic treble. But Fiorentina fans will always remember how Neto went on record to say he would "never" sign for Juventus when the rumors first emerged, as he had "too much respect for the [Viola] fans." It is also slightly baffling as to why a young keeper who is entering his prime and has only now secured a starting spot would go sit on the bench, even if he would learn from one of the best keepers in the world, Gianluigi Buffon.
Neto posted a heartfelt message to his Instagram thanking Fiorentina staff, players, and fans. "In Florence I have passed 5 unforgettable seasons, growing as an athlete but also principally as a person," writes Neto. "I thank everyone who has made this dream a reality, it's been an honor working and living day after day with you. Thank you Fiorentina. Thank you Florence."
Perhaps a snarkier commentator would note that gratitude might have been better shown by signing a contract that would have allowed Fiorentina to recoup some money from his sale, especially given the gamble that the Tuscan club undertook in bringing him to Europe and giving him a starting job. But for now we fans will have to settle for a half-hearted "thank you" to Neto, and a return to contemplating the coming summer of mercato after this unsurprising but still downbeat beginning.