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Viola Nation writers recap the January market recap

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In which your humble writers rehash the chaos of the past month.

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What was the best move Fiorentina made?

Nolan: Zarate. He is unreliable at best and at near 29, isn't going to put it all together in Europe now, but he can singlehanded win games through skill alone as anyone watching this week is all too aware of. He seems genuinely motivated to be back in Italy, and was showing effectiveness in bursts for West Ham. He was the kind of gamble we needed to make. Tello is another good calculated risk, but Zarate we know is capable of something, only a question of what.

Chloe: The best move on initial evidence looks to be the signing of Mauro Zarate. He brings something different to the team, something that has been lacking so far. Time will tell whether he can maintain the initial hunger that he has shown.

JSE: Zarate has the innate ability at his disposal to be a footballing superstar. With that statement comes a whole host of caveats that have up until now prevented such an eventuality from transpiring. Do we have another player on our hands, who given the opportunity, could potentially resurrect a wayward career? The answer to that as demonstrated so aptly against Carpi is most definitely. At 28 years of age this is a player who should be at the zenith of his football ability, the fact that he perhaps isn't is telling. One thing is clear, Zarate as has already been proven is a potential match winner. So as much as I considered the signing of Benalouane crucial in terms of getting in defensive cover, I believe when all is said and done, that Zarate will be the best piece of business to come out of this transfer window.

Huw: Zarate, I guess? Speaking entirely in the aftermath of the goal against Carpi, then Zarate is a fantastic buy. Can’t wait until we’re all furious about the fact that he never, ever passes the ball when he can shoot. Technically the best transfer, but there’s not much competition.

Tito: I'll throw a curveball here and say it was loaning Giuseppe Rossi. The tension over his playing time was a problem, especially because it was eating into Khouma Babacar's minutes. Now management can see if it's worth the headaches to keep him. I'm really hoping that he scores 15 for Levante and never gets hurt again and spends the next five years wearing purple and banging goals in like he used to; this is the first and most important step to making it happen.

And the worst?

Nolan: The Mammana breakdown was a disaster, not only for the disappointment, but it also further created scepticism that the Della Valles are willing to improve this team, and we may have burned bridges with the Argentine club that produces the most talent (mind you, I'm biased). Benalouane is a perfectly logical fallback option, but that's all he is - a journeyman who can play in a back 4 or 3 at an average level, and hopefully not get sent off too much. With Astori still out of form, our defense is still dependent on Gonzalo without any of the young talent elsewhere.

Chloe: The worst was the WAY things have been handled, a way that makes the club look unprofessional. The need for a defender was highlighted in August, we missed out then and yet STILL it was down to the last hour of the window before we brought anyone in.

JSE: Letting Ryder Matos cut all ties with the club could prove a costly error. In two years time when Udinese sell him to Juventus for 25 million, the DV’s will be kicking themselves. OK that probably won't happen, still I don't like the fact the player has left, not just because he has a name reminiscent of an intergalactic cowboy, but because over the course of his career as a Viola prospect I genuinely warmed to the idea of him one day realising his potential and becoming a firm fixture in the starting eleven.

Huw: Yohan Benalouane, on the basis that’s there’s a real chance he might bring back the Mugatu-style blonde Mohawk and beard combo. Truly awful.

Tito: I've always been a Ryder Matos apologist, and I'm sorry to see him move to Udinese for so little money is really frustrating. His versatility, pace, and willingness to do the dirty work--tracking back, running in behind, stretching play--mean that he would have been, at worst, a very functional squad player. The Zebretti are going to love him.

Given the activity in the window, what are you predicting from Fiorentina now for Serie A and the Europa League?

Nolan: I don't see us finishing top 3 right now. The depth just isn't getting it done, the competition is playing well, and we are reverting to bad habits that sunk us last year. At this point a Europa League qualification and respectable EL run are yet again realistically better than nothing.

Chloe: I think that a 3rd place finish is the best we can hope for, but on recent results and considering that Milan and Roma are improving I’m wondering if another Europa League place may be the best we can do. In terms of the Europa League, I think it will be tough to get past Tottenham again, they have certainly improved since last year. An early Coppa Italia exit and an Europa League exit might just mean that the coveted third place will be in touching distance.

JSE: I will be genuinely surprised if we make it into the draw for the next round of the Europa League. I thought that pre transfer window and nothing that has happened in the interim time period makes me think any different post transfer window.

The League is a trickier proposition. I hope beyond hope for Champions League qualification. Though I will not be surprised if we fall off a little only to come good again and then in typical Viola fashion lose out in the most frustrating and flat out avoidable way on the last day of the season. For me Europa League is a must, anything above that can be considered a monumental achievement.

Huw: Same as before. Battle for top three, alright but ultimately not good enough in Europa. Can see an away goal elimination to Spurs which means all focus turns to the league.

Tito: I'm pretty much expecting another fourth place finish in Serie A. Fiorentina has reinforced and added depth, but not quite enough to put them over the top. In the Europa League, oh man. That tournament looks really strong this year, and I wouldn't be shocked or too upset if Spurs won the fixture. Considering that this was a rebuilding year and that this team is just a couple of moves away from being super-good, I'm okay with that.

What move did you really want that didn't happen?

Nolan: As I said before, Mammana not only filled a need, but was a player uniquely suited for Fiorentina, a defender with elite passing range and a wise beyond his years reading if the game. This one will hurt for a while, especially when he ends up on Napoli or Roma.

Chloe: I really wanted us to sign someone that would actually improve the squad, whereas the window really felt like we are still stripping the squad back.

JSE: Not signing Lisandro Lopez was my biggest bugbear. Not getting Mammana was also frustrating, I guess I really really wanted the club to sign an Argentinian centre back and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that is there?

Huw: A right back. Any right back. An actual right back.

Tito: Missing out on Lisandro Lopez just about killed me. Sure, he might not have worked out, but he's a quality player with a strong South American and European pedigree, he's young, and he wasn't too expensive. Freaking Luisao, man.

Overall, what grade would you give Pradè and company?

Nolan: C. None of the moves were bad in a vacuum, we did technically fill emergency needs, but it's more dumpster diving for players who will have a short term impact at best. But I understand the winter is always a hard time to do business, so i can't blame Prade for treading water.

Chloe: No more than 5/10, even with a limited budget, I feel that the transfer dealings could have been handled so much more efficiently.

JSE: I would give Prade and company a generous C- with a note attached implying that in order to improve their grade they would need to focus more attention on the principle aim of their assignment.

Huw: C. They signed players, but not of them get in the best XI. Just about got bodies through the door. Doing enough to get by, could do better.

Tito: Frustrating market, but I think management deserves more credit than they're getting. Zarate and Tello are both very useful players, Costa's a good stopgap until Badelj returns, Kone's not bad, and Benalouane is a quality depth signing. Add in a couple of youth prospects, and this was a pretty solid winter market, even if it was a frustrating one. I'll give it a B.