Scene: A large, comfortably furnished family room. A large, purple upholstered chair is positioned in front of an inviting fireplace with a roaring fire. A tastefully-decorated evergreen tree in the corner towers over a heap of presents.
Enter Diego and Andrea stage left.
Diego: Now remember, Andrea, we need to remain calm and collected in the line. We can’t go pushing past everyone this year to the front of the line, because that’s not fair to them. Okay?
Andrea: But Diego, what if Santa leaves before I get to tell him what I want for Christmas?
Diego: (rolling eyes) He’s not going to leave before you talk to him, Andrea. We’ve been over this, like, twelve times. (sotto voce) And we’re paying him to be here anyways, so he can’t leave until you get done.
Diego walks back left again and motions to someone off stage. A rotund man wearing a large white beard and a purple Santa suit enters.
Diego: Alright, Pantaleo. Same drill as usual. You can leave after Andrea makes his wishes.
The rotund Santa nods. Diego crosses to stage right and calls out the door.
Diego: Alright, everyone. Queue up for Santa.
Enter Gonzalo, Borja, Nenad, Federico B., Khouma, Federico C., and Paulo. Gonzalo steps up first.
Gonzalo: (Sits on the rotund Santa’s lap.) Man, this feels really weird. Do we have to do it this way? (The rotund Santa nods.)
Gonzalo: Okay, fine. Yikes. Okay. What I really want for Christmas is a new contract that’ll run for 2 years and won’t force me to take a massive pay cut. Also, a new Strat. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Gonzalo.)
Borja: (Sits on the rotund Santa’s lap.) You know what I want for Christmas? A more thoughtful understanding of sport and life for everyone with Fiorentina, in Florence, and, honestly, everyone around the world. On a more personal level, I could go for some muscle liniment and maybe some coupons to the barbershop. Actually, scratch that last one. Rocio usually has those stockpiled somewhere for me anyways. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Borja.)
Nenad: (Sits on the rotund Santa’s lap.) For Christmas? Princess costumes for the girls, and a signed promise from the management that I’ll never have to play in another match again, so I’ll just have to sit on the bench in my big puffy coat and a purple beanie pulled down almost over my eyes and jump up and down when we score and never actually have to set foot on the pitch again. Please, please don’t make me go back out there. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Nenad.)
Federico B.: (Sits on the rotund Santa’s lap.) This may be outside your purview, but could you maybe make all the journalists stop saying that I’m going to move to Milan or Paris or London or something? Really not into it. Oooh, and hair extensions. Blond ones, like an echidna that had a bleaching accident. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Nenad.)
Khouma: Please make Mr. Sousa leave. Please. I just want to play and score goals in Florence. Please. But be very nice about it and try not to hurt his feelings. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Khouma.)
Federico C.: Wow, I haven’t done this since last year. Totally froze up. Wanted to ask for a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle, but panicked and couldn’t talk and you suggested I get a football. I mean, that worked out okay, but the air rifle, maybe?
(The rotund Santa gives him a long, searching look.)
Federico C.: Nah, you’re probably right. I’d just shoot my eye out. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Federico C.)
Paulo: Hope you’re comfy, because this might take awhile. I need at least 2 more international-level wingers. Both need to be reasonably direct, very pacey, and also willing to track back. And sometimes ride the bench for a month or two for no discernible reason. Another passing central midfielder would be swell, for when Borja’s hurt or whatever. I’d like a striker to back up Nikola, since he’s the only one we’ve got. Oh, and fullbacks. Good god, the only one I have is Hrvoje Milic, and he’s only one man. Maybe I could play him on the right, though...
(The rotund Santa pushes Paulo off his lap, shaking his head. Exit Paulo, still mulling over a Milic-at-rightback-and-also-goalkeeper-and-striker formation.)
Andrea: My turn! Finally. Ugh. All I want this year is to win Serie A and for Juventus to lose all their other matches. Every single one. That’s it. Also, I brought you this jar of milk and cookies and Tod’s that I made in the blender, but don’t tell Diego, because he got mad last time I did this. (The rotund Santa nods. Exit Andrea.)
Diego: Okay, Pantaleo, good work. Pretty sure that buoyed everyone’s spirits.
Pantaleo: Is it too late to talk to Santa? I’ve got a couple of requests, and...
(Diego and Pantaleo slowly turn to the rotund Santa, who stares back. Diego tentatively approaches and tugs on the beard, which remains firmly attached.)
Santa: Look under the tree, and merry Christmas, boys! (Exit Santa up the chimney.)
Diego: (Runs to tree and tears open a present.) It’s, it’s, it’s a guarantee of 6th place for the next decade! Wow, how did he know? I never even really believed in him. What did you get?
Pantaleo: (Opens another present.) New players. Heck yeah.
Diego: Nice. Did you get some fullbacks, some wingers, and a new midfielder?
Pantaleo: What? No, 3 goalkeepers, a centerback, a pair of 14-year-old strikers, and the instructions for how to clone Hrvoje Milic.
In their last match of 2016, Fiorentina came from behind twice and even took the lead in what eventually turned out to be a sister-kisser against Napoli. Why does a single point feel like a such a let-down? Peruse our coverage for an answer.
We’ve got our first really wild transfer rumor of the season, and it’s about Nikola Kalinic and China. Read the details. You know you want to.
Catch up on last week’s transfer rumors here. As a heads up, we’re going to put the Transfer Tuesday feature on hold throughout January, then resume it once the mercato closes.
With the first half of the season in the rearview mirror, here are 10 things that we figured out.
Comment of the week
Johnny Bee is curious about some of my vocabulary choices in reference to the team.