Paulo Sousa isn’t exactly the most popular man in Florence right now, so it’s hardly surprising to hear calls for his head. However, Pantaleo Corvino insists that the club isn’t going to talk about the Portuguese mister’s status until March or April, when they’ve agreed to discuss his extension. For what it’s worth, though, Tuttosport believes that he’ll depart in the summer on mutually beneficial terms.
Not surprisingly, there’s quite a market of potential replacements. We’ve already discussed Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, who seems to be on the outs with Aurelio de Laurentiis, and Eusebio di Francesco has been another popular name, although it’s hard to imagine why he’d leave Sassuolo right now. Marco Giampaolo is another option, albeit a less-exciting one. The emotional choice is Leonardo Semplici, who’s previously worked with the Primavera before taking over at SPAL, but he has no first division experience. The dark horse is Belgian Michel Preud’Homme, currently in charge of Club Brugge in Belgium. Honestly, though, expect to hear dozens of names linked to this job. This is just the first wave.
While we’ve heard plenty of chatter about Ciprian Tatarusanu’s long-term future in Florence, forgotten man Bartlomiej Dragowski remains on the fringes, too. La Nazione believes that, contrary to previous reports, the Polish starlet won’t be sold in January. Drago’s agent has expressed some frustration with the state of affairs, suggesting that a loan for the second half of the season makes sense for everyone, but added that Poland’s U21 goalkeeper is happy in Florence. Of course, all this was before Luca Lezzerini’s horror show against PAOK, so now it’s all subject to change.
We’ve heard that Atalanta outcast Marco Sportiello wants out, but it remains doubtful that Fiorentina or Napoli—the two clubs most strongly linked as his suitors—will move for him until this summer, although La Nazione remains convinced it’ll happen sooner. Manager Gian Piero Gasperini insists that he remains in la Dea’s plans, though, so it’s all still quite muddled.
There weren’t really any rumors about defenders over the past week, but expect that to change shortly, for reasons that should be painfully apparent.
Milan Badelj remains at the forefront of the transfer talk for Fiorentina. While AC Milan remain a possible destination, Inter Milan is trying to butt in as well; they’ve tapped him as their fallback plan should Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy prove too difficult to acquire. Corvino, though, insists that the Croatian international will remain through the end of his contract in 2018, which is almost certainly a bargaining ploy. This is still a messy situation, and will probably get messier as we approach January.
There are also supposedly suitors for Matias Vecino, and this time it’s not Napoli. No, this time it’s Vincenzo Montella who wants to bring the Uruguayan to AC Milan. Since, you know, former Viola midfielders are really doing well at the San Siro these days (hi, Felipe Melo, Riccardo Montolivo, and Mati Fernandez).
The Rossoneri are also reportedly planning a €30 million bid for Federico Bernardeschi this summer, which, frankly, sounds a bit outlandish until you realize it’s from Tuttosport. Berna, for his part, has reiterated that he’s a Fiorentina player through and through and has no plans to change that any time soon.
On the plus side, Larry Vasquez has revealed that it’s his dream to play for Fiorentina, leading hundreds to ask, “Who the heck is Larry Vasquez?” He’s a 24-year-old midfield destroyer who plies his trade with Patriotas Boyaca, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone was really asking. This is more an out-of-left-field note than a possible outcome.
Here’s where things start getting interesting. We’ll start with the starters: Corvino has flatly stated that Nikola Kalinic will not be sold, full stop, despite interest from Milan. The Croatian international has certainly been in the goals this season, regardless of his performance otherwise, but this sounds like it could be Corvino trying to drive up the market again.
Corvino also claims that he plans to keep Khouma Babacar, although it’s hard to believe when the Senegalese striker never plays. Babacar, who’s remained admirably professional throughout this mess, has repeatedly expressed his interest in sticking with his boyhood club, and his agent Patrick Bastianelli, also a model of restraint, admits that while his client’s goalscoring record deserves playing time that may only be available elsewhere, he remains deeply committed to the Viola.
Next, Primavera and Slovenia youth international Jan Mlakar has looked sharp against the other kids, so he’s being touted for a temporary move away this January to see how he looks against the big boys. SPAL has been mooted as a logical destination, given the Semplici connection. Mlakar is one of the stars of the youth setup, so he could be worth monitoring.
We’ll mirror Paulo Sousa and save Mauro Zarate for last. It sounds like there are disciplinary reasons for his exile from the pitch, which the player claims aren’t valid. We’re still waiting for the rest of the story to turn up, but this makes a January exit seem even likelier for the Argentine striker. We should have a full story on this in the next day or two.
Don’t expect Stevan Jovetic to replace him, though. Corvino has plainly stated that any deal to bring the former golden boy back is impossible, although La Nazione claims that it could still happen. The Corriere Fiorentino seems pessimistic about a JoJo return as well, reporting that Inter president Erick Thohir wants to sell him (probably for an obscene sum) to China, and that the Montenegrin has a month to convince him otherwise.
We’ll round out this round up with more news on strikers whom the media insist on linking to Fiorentina, despite strong evidence to the contrary. Cesare Prandelli is now looking to bring surplus Napoli forward Manolo Gabbiadini to Spain on loan, which is actually a pretty credible solution for all parties involved. Again, Gabbiadini almost certainly isn’t going to end up in Florence.