Is Fiorentina a selling club?
An accountant's look at the numbers of the Della Valle era
This was just gonna be a comment but then it grew into a rant. I figured a fanpost would spare any poor soul from accidently reading it. Those of you with nothing better to do, enjoy my rant.
Inspired by recent mention of flop strikers over the years and the general lack of any transfer activity I decided to take a trip down memory lane, specifically those exciting years when the club was rising from the ashes and we were signing all the bright young talents I always used to sign in Football manager (I believe it was still called Championship manager back then).
Giampaolo Pazzini, Giorgio Chiellini, Dario Dainelli, Manuel Pasqual, Riccardo Montolivo, Alessandro Gamberini, Sebastian Frey, all in their early twenties and with so much promise. Many, many more with tons of promise, but sadly much less impact. And of course some with no impact at all. Think Mario Gomez was a costly gamble? How about 18 year old Valery Bojinov for 14m? Back in 2004 when 14m was still huge money, before the sheiks and oil barons drove the prices sky high. Ballsy move to say the least.
And then, to top it all of: Luca Toni. The hottest striker on the peninsula (in my mind at least) for once didn't go to one of the money clubs but joined us instead. I was so happy when I heard we signed him, what a great f..ing day that was. We had a great team and now we signed this insane goal machine, we just had it all. Silverware, here we come!
Scrolling on to present times my warm and fuzzy nostalgia faded away. It gave way to a very unpleasant realization that looking at the numbers (courtesy of Transfermarkt) the 08/09 season was the last one in which the management gave the team a serious financial backing.
Life was good with Cesare Prandelli and Vincenzo Montella, so good in fact that the moment when the money tap was closed went by completely unnoticed by me. Players still came in, some future stars among them, but the transfers no longer reflected that same kind of ambition and were largely financed by the club itself.
Even the glorious makeover of 12/13 that ushered in the Montella era was mostly payed by the sales of Matija Nastasic, Valon Behrami and Alessio Cerci, our two record signings financed by the sales of Stevan Jovetic and then Adem Ljajic a year later. I never saw this as a lack of ambition, because after the bankruptcy I was thrilled the club was financialy sound and just assumed we were getting the best players we could get.
We were still getting quality players (just not as many) and the arrival of Mario Gomez seemed to mark our own arrival into the elite category of Italian football. Looking at it as a fan, we did the best we could do. Looking at the numbers, however, the accountant in me sees a different picture. We became a selling club.
The culmination of this financial policy was the truly disgraceful mercato of 14/15 in which only €9 million of the Juan Cuadrado sale were reinvested, 6,5 of that spent on Milan Badelj and Jose Maria Basanta alone. Both fine players, but hardly indispensables. Can you blame Montella for rebelling?
The Montella era ended when "the most talented young coach in Italy" acording to Football Italia, was sacked overnight on the grounds that he lacked commitment to the project. I don't agree with the sacking or the reasons behind it, but I will never the less applaud the DV's for taking a moral stand, IF they now put their money where their mouth is.
They have my eternal gratitude for ending the Florentia Viola nightmare and bringing the club back where it belongs. But the idea that "we have such a fine squad that there's no need to spend much on reinforcements" is a death sentence for any club, big or small. There's no status quo in football, you either grow or you decline. At the moment we are not growing.
I fully support the idea of our youngsters becoming the core of the team, even if that means becoming a mid-table club for a few seasons. But not if next year's transfers and wages are going to be financed by the sale of the most promising of those youngsters.
I love the idea that we're a club where money is still second to loyalty and pride. But selling stars every year and loyal players (even captains) as soon as their value starts to decline is the complete opposite of that idea and no way to create new club legends and enrich our history.
There was talk about "fire in the belly" recently, seems to me there are a few bellies at the highest level in the club that need rekindling. Prove that you still believe in the project before asking others to believe. Lead if you want others to follow. With only 31 days left in this transfer window its high time the ownership shows us what commitment to the club looks like. Unless of course its all just lip service.
[Lorenzo's note: I cleaned this up a bit so that I could get it on the front page and to broaden its reach on the Interwebs, as I really loved this piece. I believe none of my minor edits changed the tone or content of the piece significantly, but please let me know if you would like to change things back Johnny]