It’s happened to most fans. If you’re not among them, don’t worry; it’ll come for you soon enough. When it begins, it’ll barely register in your consciousness: a moment, a flash, a sudden understanding of life’s beauty, just for this one infinitesimal instant, that departs as it arrives, leaving you uncertain that you even felt anything to begin with. But, as you think back on it, you’ll realize that this is the start of something special. Of a relationship that you’ll carry for the rest of your life, whether or not you want to. Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s chance, maybe it’s something else; no matter the root cause, you’re in love.
That’s what happened to me on 11 July 2015. That’s the day that Fiorentina played a friendly against Trentino in Moena. Against a bunch of amateur players, a teenager wearing number 10 and Cedric Gondo produced some genuinely lovely interplay, full of backheels and clever movement, that led to a goal for the big striker. For whatever reason, though, it wasn’t Gondo who stole my heart. It was Andy Bangu.
Ever since, I’ve probably been the biggest Bangu fan out of everyone in the world who isn’t actually related to him. When he took the Primavera by storm that year, I was ecstatic. When he scored 6 in his debut professional season at Reggina as a 19-year-old, I nearly cried with joy. When he struggled at Vicenza the next year, I stepped to his defense, justifying his lack of production as a coach who didn’t understand how to get the best out of such a dynamic talent. When subsequent loans to Matera and Bisceglie didn’t really pan out either, I defaulted to the same excuses.
Now he’s 21 years old and spending a third year on loan in the third tier, this time with Gubbio. In many ways, it’s the perfect landing spot: he’ll join fellow Viola loanees Erald Lakti and Marco Meli under former Primavera boss Federico Guidi, who coached him to such great heights; Guidi’s 4-3-3 formation should give Bangu the room he needs to drive forward in possession, using his low center of gravity to evade challenges and wreak havoc on opposing defenses without saddling him with too many defensive responsibilities.
I know that my unwavering love for Andy Bangu doesn’t make sense. He’s a guy who impressed at youth level and for one season as a teenager in Serie C, but who hasn’t really done much since. The closest he’s come to playing for the Fiorentina senior side is making a couple of Europa League squad lists as an alternate under Paulo Sousa. He’s miles from relevance to the Viola, and he’s unlikely to decrease that distance any time.
And yet. And yet. And yet.
Sometimes we spend so much of ourselves on another person. We see an opportunity and invest. We steward that investment carefully, strenuously avoiding dangers or situations that could denigrate value. Through judicious action, we see our affection increase, multiply, compound, generate interest, and prove our commitment correct.
And that’s good and fine and how it should be, but it’s not love, because a love that requires repayment, a love that’s transactional, isn’t love at all. Conditional love is an economic calculation, not an emotion, and that means that yeah, sometimes you get hurt for what would, in any other circumstance, be for no reason. And, while that makes you sad, you don’t regret it, not for a second, because it’s love.
Franck Ribery signed for Fiorentina, which is a very strange thing to type.
Even so, sounds like the Viola aren’t done stockpiling wingers, having reportedly made an offer for Sporting’s Raphinha.
We got another entry in our monthly series of interviews with FiorentinaNews.com man Stefano del Corona (who also got married a couple weeks ago, so auguri, Stefano!), and he provided some thoughtful answers to the questions we hit him with.
Everyone knows that Nikola Milenković is a top prospect, but this may be the year he goes from prospect to bonafide superstar.
Ever wonder what a mad scientist gelato-maker would look like if he sponsored Fiorentina? Wonder no longer, and meet Sergio Dondoli of San Gimignano, who’s an absolute hoot.
Speaking of mad science, we got in our time machine and explored an alternate universe in which that Fiorentina-Napoli match kept going.
What do you do when your heart is broken?
This poll is closed
Bathe, throw on your finest store-bought shirt, comb some bear grease through your beard, and hit the town.
Hit the gym. Get fit. Have a full training montage. Then find whoever broke your heart and strut.
Sweatpants and gin, gin and sweatpants, gin strained through sweatpants.
What’s that? You’ve never had your heart broken? Oh, I see. You cope by LYING.
Comment of the week
GiancarloViola proved that sometimes, the lowest-hanging fruits are the sweetest.
That’s it for this week, folks.