While the introduction of new Spanish midfielder Joan Verdu was the main event, the press also asked Fiorentina director Daniele Prade a number of questions about the mercato. Through an hour of questioning, the ninja of indeterminate size's wrap-up of Fiorentina's transfer activity was characteristically calm and succinct.
After all the criticism the club has received this summer, Prade was a little defensive about his work this window: "I can't understand why there is this hyper-criticism of everything we do." He highlighted the fact that the Della Valles have pumped 320 million euros into the club during their ownership and "have never even thought of a return [on investment] in economic terms."
Prade also outlined some of his goal for this season, which is "to do well," although he never defined what exactly that would be. He added that, now in his fourth year at Fiorentina, he's proud of having qualified for the Europa League three times and proud of the attendance figures thus far--35,000 at the Franchi against Milan, and 21,000 season ticket subscriptions. He (perhaps optimistically) took these numbers to mean that the fans are not dissatisfied with the team, and reassured the press that the Della Valles were not disinvesting from the team.
With somewhat refreshing honesty, Prade next tackled the difficulties of this past transfer season. He admitted that there had been certain matters that blocked Fiorentina's effort, using Mario Gomez's loan, rather than sale, as an example. He dismissed the idea that Fiorentina required "mercato firewors." When asked about "communication errors," he admitted that, "Maybe there are, but we will get better at limiting them," which is probably not as reassuring as he wanted it to sound, and pointed out that six other clubs had more turnover.
He then fielded questions about the lack of numbers in defense, saying, "Maybe, but that choice was taken by the coach and we shared it," which makes me a bit leery of Sousa now. He added the flimsy claim that Roncaglia, Tomovic, and Astori can play multiple roles, which is both true and a total redirection from the actual problem. Prade continued that he was "one step" from closing two deals for defenders: Mexes was, as we know, retained by request of Berlusconi; Manchester City's Jason Denayer ended up with Galatasaray and the promise of the Champions League. As elusive as ever, Prade added that he already has two players targeted for January moves, a defender (Taleb Twatiha?) and a midfielder.
After touching on Montella's departure without really saying anything, it was Joaquin time. Prade echoed the thoughts expressed here, that "wanting to return to Betis in June would have been fine; obviously, the 10th of August is a little different." He added that, without Jakub Błaszczykowski's arrival (which not even he'd really expected), Joaquin never would have left.
He also addressed several other items of transfer business, revealing that he received calls about Josip Iličić from several clubs, as well as formal offers for Nenad Tomovic, Marcos Alonso, Matías Fernández, and others. He added that Napoli's interest in Matías Vecino was overblown, and that there were never plans to bring David Pizarro back. Addressing the criticism that Fiorentina isn't Italian enough, he fired back, "We have many young Italians who can do well in the future," which may only sharpen the complaints.
Next order of business was addressing player contracts. Prade flatly denied the rumor that Giuseppe Rossi had been asked to take a pay cut, explaining that the contract had been restructured without being reduced. He also indicated that Fernández and Vecino's contracts needed to be dealt with. For the young guns, he seemed pleased that Khouma Babacar and Federico Bernardeschi had renewed; preseason darling Abdou Diakhate is apparently close to extending his contract as well. And, stoic as ever, he shrugged off questions about what would happen if Besiktas didn't want Gomez, saying only, "We'd do our best in that situation."
Prade wrapped up by washing his hands of a new stadium ("[It'd be] more appropriate to talk with executive chairman Mario Cognini."), commenting on how the support Fiorentina received in the ICC, and reinforced the notion that the Europa League is the team's priority: "We will try in every way to stay in Europe." Prade exited stage right, adding that he was already looking at free agents.
And with that he was gone, as silently as he arrived. I think the two biggest talking points are the status of the defense (thin by design and in concert with Sousa, although with reinforcements set for January) and the free agents