In professional sports, teams win with young, controllable talent. That has always been the best way to win and will continue to be. Young players become the backbone of a franchise and turn teams into super powers. If you cannot build a team with homegrown players then the team itself most likely will struggle to be successful. On the other end of that teams have to keep their homegrown players to succeed in the future. Granted, football is a little different than other sports because there are so many teams around. It seems like there are only a handful of teams in the world that can pluck the best players from other squads. That leads us to today. The prodigal son has left the nest in Florence.
Federico Bernardeschi is 23 years old and was coming off a break out season. Basically, the arrival of Federico Chiesa alongside Bernardeschi was the only bright spot of the 2016/2017 campaign in Florence. Fans were dreaming of the day their homegrown player would become the next captain and lead the squad to the Serie A title over Juventus (it has to be Juventus; they are always the best team). There were always rumors floating around about the young wingers departure, but he always seemed to brush them off and put the focus on staying in Florence. Fiorentina fans had a young man that loved the city, seemed like a great human, and bled purple. Then the Bianconeri came in with their money and promise of winning. All of a sudden the 23 year old Italian jumped ship and moved to Turin.
This heartbreaking tale is the story that we have been telling for years and will continue to tell until Fiorentina decides to commit to spending money. There is hope for the future of the club with Diego Della Valle’s interest in selling the team. Under current management, Fiorentina will not be the Italian power that we were all hoping for. They are more focused on selling players for high prices than putting a quality product on the field to build around. Just look at how much turnover the team has every 5 years or so. Once Bernardeschi got the taste of what playing for Juventus could be like he jumped to it. As a 23 year old myself I do not blame him. When you see that the team has won the Serie A every year you have been in the league and played meaningful Champions league football why wouldn’t you want to join them? It’s the common case of “you can’t be them join them”.
Fans do not want to hear this, but if Chiesa continues to play the way he has already in his career, something similar will happen to him. Think of Fiorentina as a farm team for top clubs to pick from. They develop good young players and top European teams jump at the best ones. It is tough to accept, but we just cannot get too attached to players that come through the system unless there is a change. La Viola will continue to be a second rate team that competes for a Europa league spot.
Bernardeschi was supposed to be the guy that broke this mold. He was going to be the player that played his whole career in Florence and brought back the glory of Fiorentina football. With the new stadium coming, there is a change in sight. Once management starts making revenue from the stadium it will be easier to compete with the giants like Juventus. They are like the evil empire that the guys in purple need to defeat to save Serie A. It is frustrating to lose a talent like Bernardeschi to a team you have to face twice a season. If he went to England or Spain it would sting, but not as much. Accepting the state of the club is the first step towards being content with mediocrity. Bernardeschi was a great player and will be missed next season. It is time for Chiesa to become the guy we all gush over until Juventus plucks him away too.