It became clear early on in the summer of 2016 that the focus was on decreasing the payroll more than fundamentally improving the squad, a necessary but unfortunate move that set the stage for the season to come. Pantelo Corvino deserves credit for cutting dead weight, in particular a certain German striker, and spotting some shrewd deals with an eye to the future, but the summer mercato was overall, not good.
Until a dramatic end of August, the summer window was defined more by outgoing players than incoming, which isn’t always a promising sign, but in this case, most moves were logical. The Joshua Brillante and Rafal Wolski experiments ended as quickly as they began, with both youngsters sold back to their home countries. Argentine defenders Jose Maria Basanta and Facundo Roncaglia were deemed surplus to requirements; the former returned to Monterrey in Mexico where he spent the previous season on loan, while cult favorite Roncaglia moved to Celta Vigo on a free transfer in search of more playing time. Youngsters Jaime Baez and Ante Rebic also left on loan for playing time, with unknown futures.
Also out on loan, with the assumption that they would not be coming back, were Matias Fernandez and Giuseppe Rossi, to Milan and Celta Vigo respectively, who no longer fit in the plans of coach Paulo Sousa. Rossi especially was a controversial departure, as many fans were hoping to see the player’s redemption in purple; unfortunately his inability to remain healthy left him a high risk luxury the club could no longer afford to rely on. Club captain Manuel Pasqual also left on a free transfer to neighboring Empoli, after the club declined to renew his contract, an unfortunate trend that would continue a year later.
On the bright side, Fiorentina also managed to sell Rossi’s equally cursed onetime striker partner, Mario Gomez, who moved to Wolfsburg for €7M to recap some of the lost money, although he remains one of the worst signings in club history. The club also made its biggest splash by selling Marcos Alonso to Chelsea for €27M; his loss would ultimately hurt more than a lot of fans appreciated at the time, but it is impossible to say no to Premier League prices.
Grade: Corvino and company did an excellent job trimming the fat, but left the defense with no depth, especially at leftback where the loss of Alonso and Pasqual would become obvious. Some of these moves were necessary but the loss of guys like Rossi and Pasqual would increase the feeling of alienation between the fanbase and management. Overall, I give the outgoing window a B.
Bartlomiej Dragowski (Jagiellonia Bialystok, €3M)
This 18 year old Polish keeper was purchased as one for the future, but there is already doubt over whether he will remain on the Viola following the winter acquisition of youngish Italian Marco Sportiello. He got his debut in the last game of the season against Pescara, where he conceded two goals but showed the mix of skill and athleticism that suggests a potentially bright future. Incomplete
Kevin Diks (Vitesse, €2.5M)
Another alleged investment for the future, the 19 year old Dutch right back was already a first team regular for Vitesse in the Eredivisie, but was never given a chance by Sousa. After only making 2 late game substitute appearances where he did nothing of note, he was loaned back to Vitesse at the end of January, where he was given regular time for the end of the season. His future at Fiorentina remains unknown. Incomplete
Hrvoje Milic (Hajduk Split, €700K)
The 27 year old Croatian leftback is a journeyman who had experience in the Croatian, Russian, and Swedish leagues, signed as a low risk, low reward depth move following the departure of Alonso and Pasqual. He lived up to his billing, providing acceptable coverage to the depleted left flank, often forced to play in the midfield due to Sousa’s 3-4-2-1 obsession, despite a lack of any notable offensive upside (though he managed to get 4 assists in 16 starts!). According to Whoscored he was our highest rated left back this season, but the bar is low, and I personally preferred Olivera. B-
Maximiliano Olivera (Peñarol, Loan)
The 24 year old Uruguayan left back arrived as a last minute reinforcement from Uruguayan league champions Peñarol, where he was a standout player after spending most of his career with Montevideo Wanderers. He struggled to adjust to the speed of Serie A, although he settled in as a decent but unremarkable option who, like Milic, did not offer the offensive threat needed for the wingback role Sousa forced him into. If given the opportunity he may improve with more Serie A experience, although he ideally he fits in a backup role. B-
Carlos Salcedo (Guadelajara, Loan with €7M option to buy)
Another Corvino surprise, Salcedo was brought in out of nowhere from Mexico as the club desperately needed another defender, especially a young one. The 22 year old centerback is talented but prone to fouls, an issue that plagued him all year. Sousa often forced him to play on the side where he was not at his most comfortable, and he fell out of favor at the end of the season. Although the promise is there, the club has decided to look elsewhere for long term solutions. B-
Sebastian De Maio (Anderlecht, Loan)
The Serie A veteran defended was purchased by Anderlecht from Genoa over the summer, but was immediately loaned to Fiorentina, who needed the defensive help. The 30 year old was rarely used, making 6 league appearances and a couple of starts in the Cups, where he did little to stand out, for better or worse. C
Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa, Loan)
The 30 year old Colombian defensive midfielder, whose career spanned from Uruguay to France to Spain to England, found himself in Serie A for the first time to add steel to the Viola midfield. He bounced back from a poor season for Aston Villa to be an early standout before being slowed down by injurDivisiies. In the second half of the season, Sousa primarily used him as a center back, where he was surprisingly effective, although defenses would start to exploit his lack of pace by the end of the season. Overall, one of the few signings to exceed expectations. A-
Sebastian Cristoforo (Sevilla, Loan)
A 23 year old central midfield standout from Sevilla’s latest Europa League run, Cristoforo, on the bright side, managed to avoid the injuries that previously plagued his career. Unfortunately even while healthy he failed to settle in any role. At his best in a defensive minded role, Sousa often used him more forward than he was comfortable playing. It is unknown if he will get another chance under Pioli. C
Hernan Toledo (Velez Sarsfield, Loan)
Supposedly another purchase for the future, Toledo is a 20 year old winger known for his technical ability who arrived in Fiorentina while technically being owned by Uruguayan Segunda Division club/money laundering device Deportivo Maldonado. Toledo didn’t even get as much of a Diks-esque cameo before having his loan terminated in January, when he was shipped back to Argentina to play for Lanus on loan. F
Ianis Hagi (Viitorul Constanta, €2M)
Son of Romanian legend Gheorghe Hagi, made his debut for Viitorul Constanta at 16 and was already team captain before joining Fiorentina in 2016 at 17, having been scouted by Adrian Mutu the year before. The attacking midfielder, whose style of play resembles his father, got a handful of brief appearances for the first team, having been outplayed by fellow second generation wonderkid Federico Chiesa, who is a year older. Incomplete
Overall, thanks to the cheap, risk averse nature of the summer mercato, none of these signings were a huge flop, not even Toledo, as most of these signings were loans or low cost options on modest wages. Considering Fiorentina shipped out some of their highest earners last summers, and are likely more to go this year, this could be worth it long term if the club is free to make more big investments again; if not however, signings like these won’t make a difference. Getting bargain players to round out your squad is a good thing, but it won’t take you over the top.
Who was Fiorentina's best signing in the 2016 Summer Mercato?
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Sebastian De Maio