Well, we’ve got what’s either good news or bad news to open things up with, depending on how you look at it. The word out of the back office is that Fiorentina don’t intend to make any major moves in January, either buying or selling. While it means that some dudes we like probably won’t be sold, it also means a possible lack of quality reinforcements where they’re desperately needed. So, basically, another Viola mercato.
The number of possible replacements for Paulo Sousa continues to increase. According to la Nazione, the top two candidates are Maurizio Sarri (as we’ve previously heard) and Ivan Juric, of Napoli and Genoa respectively. Marco Giampaolo of Sampdoria and Massimo Oddo of Pescara are supposedly the top backup options. There are also rumors that Fiorentina could dip into Serie B, with Benevento’s Marco Baroni and SPAL’s Leonardo Semplici (a former Viola Primavera manager) also on the shortlist.
We heard that Adrian Mutu is now the DG at Dinamo Bucharest a few months ago, but now another Viola ex has joined him in the ranks of the backroom staff. This time, it’s goalkeeper Gustavo Munua, who’s now the boss at Ecuadorian giants LDU Quito. The 38-year-old Uruguayan joined Fiorentina from Levante, although he never made an appearance in purple. He’d been working as the coach at boyhood club Nacional since last year, but now takes charge of one of South America’s most decorated clubs.
Although the audible acrimony has decreased, there’s still no further movement in the Gonzalo Rodriguez renewal saga. Pantaleo Corvino recently told reporters that he wasn’t worried, as it’s a long time until the club captain becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and both sides are still negotiating. It’s a sobering reminder, though, that Gonzalo’s time in Florence may be limited.
Should he depart, it sounds like Corvino’s keeping his options open. The rumor mill has returned to 22-year-old Jaroslaw Jach. A star for the Poland U21s who should get a senior call soon, this is his third season as a regular for Zaglebie Lubin, although his first as a full-time starter. He’s a powerful and elegant prospect, but still a bit unproven. Samp are also interested.
Dinamo Zagreb and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida is another possibility. The 27-year-old plays has 41 caps and has firmly established himself as a first-teamer for both club and country. Stout in the tackle, strong in the air, quick across the ground, and surprisingly prolific from set-pieces, he’s the sort of all-action player who quickly endears himself to fans. He can also play at either fullback spot in a pinch, which makes him even more useful, hence the interest from both Fiorentina and Torino.
While there’s certainly nothing pending, Schalke and Serbia centerback Matija Nastasic recently spoke of his abiding love for Fiorentina and Florence. While he was very clear that he’s happy in Gelsenkirchen, he mentioned that he’d love to wear purple again at some point in the future. Also, he’s still just 23 years old, which seems impossible.
As any Viola fan will attest, the rightback spot is a problem for this team. It’s not surprising, then, that Pescara’s Francesco Zampano is reportedly the club’s top target in January. A bit of dynamism and drive from the back could only help this team, so it’s not a stretch to imagine a bid for him, although Oddo wants to hang onto him at least until the end of the term.
Another week, another pile of Milan Badelj rumors. AC Milan remains the media’s favorite destination for the Croatian midfielder, and we’ve certainly read enough in the funny papers to make it seem likely, but he’s also popped up in relation to Inter Milan quite a bit. The Rosoneri are expected to make a bid in January, and the Viola are thought to be holding out for at least €10 million if not more. Both the Milanese clubs, though, are expected to moot player swaps as well.
Matias Vecino got his name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week with his comments that it’s always been his dream to play in England. After seeing the furor he’d raised, he took to Twitter to clarify that he’s not in any way angling for a move away and is completely focused on Fiorentina right now and couldn’t be happier, but you know that such a statement, combined with his rugged style of play, means that we’ll be hearing about the infamous “unnamed Premier League bid” for the next several months.
With such turmoil in the middle of the park, you can expect plenty of new faces as well. The first is longtime Cagliari stalwart Daniele Dessena, who’s thought to be one of Corvino’s top Badelj replacements. He’s fallen down the pecking order for the Etnei since a knee injury held him out for the first half of the season, but he’s now fully recovered and could be sold.
Another out-of-favor option is Milan’s Andrea Poli, who’s barely featured under Vincenzo Montella. Word from Tuttosport is that he could be part of a swap deal for Badelj, although he’s a likely candidate to be loaned or sold in January for pennies on the dollar.
If you’d prefer a more cultured, attacking option, then the continued momentum of the Bruno Fernandes story should please you. The Portuguese trequartista would probably play a deeper role for Fiorentina than he does for Sampdoria, but he’s got oodles of talent. The catch, of course, is that he’s owned by Udinese, and the Blucerchiati have a €6 million option to buy him at season’s end.
The excellently-named Joao Schmidt is perhaps the most intriguing option. He’s probably the closest thing to a like-for-like Badelj replacement, and his contract is up next year. He’s a deep-lying schemer in the David Pizarro mold, although he’s a bit more mobile than Pek. With a bag full of tricks, excellent vision and passing range, and packing a powerful shot, Sao Paulo could look to cash in on him before he’s available on a Bosman. He also comes with a bit of European experience, as he spent last year on loan at Vitoria Setubal in Portugal.
We’ve heard a bit of noise about new Lyon DG Andoni Zubizarreta using his Barelona connections to finagle a move for Cristian Tello, but the player’s agent Jose Orobitg (that’s really how you spell it) insists there’s nothing to it, adding that the loan is secure until the end of the year. Zubizarreta should know, as he negotiated the terms while he was with Barca. It does rather make one wonder, though, if €7 million is a bit steep for a player who seems to have fallen behind 19-year-old Federico Chiesa.
Every week, we hear about how Nikola Kalinic will be leaving Florence soon. This week, at least it’s not Napoli he’s supposedly moving to, but struggling Spanish giants Valencia. However, it’ll cost Cesare Prandelli and company quite a bit; the Croatian apparently signed a contract extension until 2019 at the end of the summer—remember his agent suddenly piping up about a move, then settling down again?—and Corvino inserted an eye-popping €50 million buyout clause into it. That may seem like a lot for a streaky 28-year-old striker, but this is the post-Gonzalo Higuain world in which we live.
There’s some good news on the Khouma Babacar front, too. La Nazione claims that, following a few excellent performances, that he’s back in the club’s long-term plans and probably won’t be sold any time soon. It’s thought that, if Sousa leaves after this season, the Senegalese star will stick around, but if the Portuguese mister does end up renewing his contract, he’ll make a break for the exit. Napoli have extended feelers about a January move, but that’s almost certainly just media invention.
Mauro Zarate remains the odd man out in the striking rotation and could well move on in the new year. Bologna are thought to be the most likely destination, as they’re desperate to add firepower, but he’s just their fallback option if they can’t get Gabigol on loan from Inter. However, Maurito isn’t going anywhere unless someone ponies up €1.8 million, which sure seems like a bargain for a player who can occasionally win a match single-handedly.
Much more exciting is a report from the usually-reliable Gianluca di Marzio that Fiorentina are re-opening contact with Inter on the subject of Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegrin seems to have dropped back out of favor under new boss Stefano Pioli, and the Nerazzuri may try to offload him (and his massive wage bill) as soon as possible. An initial loan seems the likeliest possibility; for a permanent move, JoJo would probably have to accept a pay cut. Inter have also floated the idea of a swap for Badelj, which could have some legs.