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Pradè’s history of August transfers is why Fiorentina fans shouldn’t panic

The DS proved to be a master at finding talent towards the end of the mercato last time around, and that’s not likely to change.

The smirk of a man who knows something that you don’t.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

A lot of Fiorentina fans have been justifiably grumbling about the lack of new players in the side. After all, when you have a new owner who’s promised to spend big to bring in top talent after a season that saw the team dodge relegation only on the last day and in a rather scummy performance against Genoa, you expect a bit more than backup goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano after nearly a month of open transfer window.

However, Rocco Commisso and Daniele Pradè have previously stated their desire to ship out players whose futures don’t lie with the Viola and have set a (rather arbitrary) deadline of 6 August to begin bringing players in. While the waiting is hard, it’s just as unpleasant to imagine that, as the rest of Serie A wheels and deals, here are the Gigliati bumbling along, and by the time Pradè and company are ready to open the entrance doors, all the good players will be gone.

However, during his last stint in Florence, Pradè’s usual modus operandi was to wait until later in the transfer window to add talent. I’ve put together every summer signing from 2012 to 2014, and they offer a pretty clear pattern, albeit from a very small sample size. All figures are from Transfermarkt; I’ve colored the July purchases in yellow and the August ones in green to highlight the differences.

Pradè signings, summer 2012
Pradè signings, summer 2013
Pradè signings, summer 2014

You’ll notice a few clear patterns here. The first is that, in two of the three years, at least half of the summer’s signings came after the start of August. In fact, the middle third of July has proven to be pretty barren, with only Cristiano Lupatelli, Mario Gómez, and poor Josh Brillante arriving in that stretch.

Marione brings us to the second point. While there are some big hits among those July arrivals—Juan Cuadrado, Matías Fernández, Joaquín, Marcos Alonso, Josip Iličić, Ciprian Tătăruşanu—there are a lot of misses: Hegazy, El Hamdaoui, Marko Bakić, Gustavo Munúa, Oledksandr Yakovenko, Gómez, Michele Fossati, Steve Beleck, Octávio, Brillante. While some weren’t brought in as stars, enough were expected to contribute substantially and then didn’t do so that it’s worth noting.

In contrast, a lot of the August arrivals enjoyed much more successful careers. The 2012 group includes the backbone of one of the best transfer windows I can remember in Viola history, while the 2014 group introduced no real stars but several steady squad players. Heck, even Ante Rebić (the sole August purchase in 2013) is likely to work out well for the Viola, as 50% of the proceeds from his upcoming sale—likely to tip in around €40 million—will return to Florence.

The indication here is that Pradè excels at finding late inefficiencies in the market. While the “all the good players are gone after the first few weeks” argument certainly holds some water, it’s worth remembering that as big clubs add stars, they have to send away promising youngsters or useful veterans. Conversely, as the end of the market approaches and smaller teams that have held their assets in hopes of driving the price up realize that they could miss out on necessary funds, discounts arrive. While Ivan Perišić and Mauro Icardi, say, are way beyond Fiorentina’s means, other clubs are also freezing players out. The squad today, or in two weeks, or even on 30 August, likely isn’t the squad for the rest of the season.

All this is to say that it’s totally okay to be grumpy about the lack of exciting arrivals promised by Commisso two months ago. Fiorentina is one of Italy’s most important clubs, so fans ought to have high standards, even now that the club has fallen from the ranks of the competent. But, given who’s in charge and given the stated objectives, it seems fair to wait until the window closes to really go in on the brain trust.