With the transfer window closed, bolted, and shuttered, you might think it’s time for teams to get on with the business of playing the games and trying to win. You might also think it’s time for bloggers to get on with the business of writing about that process. In the latter case, at least, you’d be wrong, because here is your Viola Nation staff here to chat about Fiorentina’s mercato. As always, all of our opinions are completely and inarguably correct, especially when they contradict each other, and should be saved for posterity.
What was the best bit of business from the transfer window? The worst? The most surprising?
Nicky Nutella: The best signing of the transfer window should have been getting a true, proven #9, but alas that was not to be. So of all the actual signings, it has to be the signing of former Copa Libertadores champion, Lucas Martínez Quarta. We desperately needed CB help and unfortunately Martin Caceres and Federico Ceccherini weren’t quite cutting it. Plus, we’ve had great luck with Argentina CBs in the past (see Gonzalo Rodríguez, José María Basanta, and Germán Pezzella)
The failure to bring in a proven goal scorer has to be the biggest miss of the Mercato. Yes, Christian Kouamé, Dušan Vlahović, and Patrick Cutrone have a ton of promise, but we need to win now. We can’t wait for them to reach their potential at a time when we should be pushing for European places.
The most surprising (and saddest) has got to be the selling of Federico Chiesa. They sold him a few days after naming him captain in what seems like a bizarre move. He had every right to want to leave, but the way that whole deal was structured left a lot to be desired.
Trevor Stynes: The best signing (I'm not including January signings in this) right now looks to be Lucas Martínez Quarta, especially after his recent performance for the Argentinian national side. We needed cover at the back and it looks like we've possibly got more than just a replacement here. Looking forward to see how he slots into our back line.
The most disappointing part of the latest transfer window is our failure to yet again find a proven striker. I'm not convinced our 3 forwards can get nearly enough goals, which is even more important now having lost our top scorer, Federico Chiesa.
To be honest, I wasn't surprised by anything in this window. No striker signed, again, Chiesa going to Juventus was always going to happen. Most of the action taking place on the last day, again when it comes to Fiorentina and especially Daniele Pradè that is just what I've come to expect.
Sam Griswold: The best all-around signing for me was Sofyan Amrabat based on his proven play in Serie A and his ability to control games the way he did for Hellas last season. Although he hasn’t looked as solid so far this year, he should be a mainstay and provide an anchor to build around in the midfield.
Losing Chiesa is not the end of the world, but the way it went down and especially the timing of the move was tough to take as it allowed virtually no time to bring in anyone as a statement signing to get excited about.
Most surprising, and disheartening, to me was not adding a proven striker and not loaning out one of either Cutrone or Vlahović. While it’s a small sample size, the first three games of this year have clearly shown the limitations of our attack.
Ben Lualdi: Without a doubt Lucas Martinez Quarta is the best business done this window. 12 million Euros is a lot for Fiorentina to spend, but Martinez Quarta looks like a bargain at that price. With the premium placed on ball-playing center backs around Europe these days, I’m surprised more clubs weren’t in for one who started for Argentina this week and has potential to be among the very best.
The biggest miss of the mercato was the lack of a Chiesa replacement. Not in a positional sense, but a quality sense. I’ll go against the grain and say that because Chiesa is so hampered as a wing back, I think Pol Lirola and Jose Callejon will be able to (mostly) make up for his loss. However, Rocco and Prade failed to use their funds to bring a high-profile signing in post-Chiesa, and both the fans and team will suffer for it.
The most surprising move is that no veteran striker came in to help out our young guys. Vlahovic and Kouame especially could really use some guidance from a proven Serie A #9, which is why I would have loved (or still would) a push for Mario Mandzukic. Even someone like a Fernando Llorente or Eder for cheap would have made sense as a third/fourth striking option.
Mike McCormack: While this mercato eerily resembled a magnet, attracting players at the front and repelling them at the back, I will make a case that with a few exceptions, it wasn’t as bad as some have suggested.
Starting with the negative. I see two, and I don’t think they will include your one. For starters, Daniele Prade once again waited way too long into the market to get serious, and this time it bit him, hard. Federico Chiesa should have been sold earlier, allowing more time to find suitable replacements. This brings me to my second miss. It is hard for Fiorentina to talk about a European project when it sells its most talented player and then doesn’t replace that talent anywhere on the team. Not signing Samuele Ricci will prove to be the biggest miss in this mercato. There were many other squads who brought in young talent at great prices. Why did we sit out a market that Prade admitted had market values severely diminished?
On the positive side, Sindaco Valero is back! Borja joins Jack Bonaventura in a very well stocked midfield. While Sofyan Amrabat is technically January business, if played in his more natural position, this midfield should be the engine that powers this team.
If Beppe decides to move away from his standard 3-5-2, Jose Callejón adds experienced excitement to the wing. Without a change in formations, Callejón and the fans may be left frustrated.
The best business done during this window, and potentially during all three windows Prade has had is Lucas Martínez Quarta. This young man is a beast. He has the ability to start day one (replacing Cáceres in a back three) and will be the long term solution to losing either Milenkovic or Pezzella.
The Tito: The best business was reinforcing the midfield. Adding Giacomo Bonaventura and Borja Valero to the mix means the engine room has six players who are credible Serie A starters. They also all bring very different attributes to the table, allowing Giuseppe Iachini to mix and match them as necessary.
The worst bit of business has to be the failure to bring in a real Chiesa replacement. José Callejón isn’t washed but he’s a very different sort of player from Fede and, with respect for his superb body of work as a pro, doesn’t offer the same sort of explosive, game-changing ability. Losing Chiesa means this club will place an even greater burden on Franck Ribery’s 37-year-old shoulders.
For most surprising, I wish I could say it was Pradè’s failure to bring in any young talent outside of Louis Munteanu, but that’s been his modus operandi for years. I guess I’ll say it was his adjustment to get the Lucas Martínez Quarta deal over the line; feels like that would’ve stalled out in years past.
What do you see as the biggest strength in this squad for the upcoming season? The biggest weakness? The least-predictable spot?
NN: The biggest strength is undoubtedly the midfield. Fiorentina has stockpiled a wealth of talent in the midfield of players who can different jobs. Need a box-to-box midfielder? We got that. Need a midfielder to take players on? Check. Overall they have a ton of talent, but it remains to be seen how Beppe plans to use them all.
Not to sound like a broken record, but the weakest position is striker. La Viola have three promising young talents, but only one has scored 10 goals in a season (Cutrone). That is extremely concerning for a team with reasonably lofty expectations.
Least predictable spot is probably the defense. It remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be playing three of four at the back, but either way, they lack quality depth players. Especially out on the flanks where they were so strong with Chiesa and Biraghi just a week ago.
TS: Our biggest strength this season I believe will be our defence. Milenkovic for me is a player we need to try to keep at the club as much as possible. We already had a strong back line last season and this has now been strengthened.
Again, the lack of a proven striker means our front line are under more pressure than ever this season. Ribery is not going to play every game, we've lost our top scorer without really replacing him. I'm looking forward to seeing Callejon in action, I do think he will do well but whether or not he can get enough goals to make up for Chiesa's absence remains to be seen.
I know a lot of experts say our midfield is one of the strongest in Serie A. Taken individually that is possibly true, but I have my doubts that Beppe Iachini is the man to get the best out of them collectively. Certainly from what we've seen so far, he is struggling at this early stage, and we all expected a lot more from Amrabat.
SG: The midfield is the clear strength of this team considering both the depth and talent, yet also raises the most questions. With so many options (Borja, Duncan, Castrovilli, Amrabat, Pulgar, Bonaventura, Saponara, Eysseric), who plays and where? It’s great to have the numbers, especially in a year with five substitutions, but inevitably someone has to be left out.
The biggest weakness is, without question, the front line. For me, Kouamé has the most potential and I hope he’s given consistent time to find his rhythm, but it’s hard to be too optimistic.
BL: I rate Fiorentina’s midfield in the top five in Serie A, due to both the quality and depth available. Despite the midfield looking pretty horrible against Sampdoria, I think the return of Erick Pulgar will allow Sofyan Amrabat to push slightly higher, giving the midfield more balance. All in all, Beppe keeping his job probably depends on being able to get the most out of this uber-talented group.
The weakest spot is still the strikers, as there is not a single proven goalscorer among them. All three of Dusan Vlahovic, Christian Kouame and Patrick Cutrone go through the highs and lows of being a young striker whose name isn’t Erling Haaland. That’s fine, but costs the team points on a consistent basis. I’d also consider them the most unpredictable group, as any of our three strikers could total 1 or 15 goals this season and I would not be surprised. I just hope one of them breaks out, or I expect Rocco to break out the checkbook within the next year.
MM: I’ll start with biggest question. The biggest and most important question should be what formation does Beppe line up in. We don’t have players that fit his 3-5-2 the best. A change to a 4-3-3 could solve for many of the concerns. What will he do?
The biggest strength should have been easily answered - the midfield. After a couple of games where the best service has come from Ribery and Milenkovic, I will pivot. I will now say the back three (Martínez Quarta, Pezzella and Milenkovic) or the center back pairing of any two of those three is the strength of this team. Three absolute studs!
The biggest weakness will be argued by many as our young stable of forwards. I will argue that our biggest weakness would actually be the right wing in a 3-5-2. Neither Callejón nor Lirola are natural fits. Following the amazing offensive and defensive shifts put in by Chiesa In two of the first three games, this is now a glaring hole.
TT: The biggest strength is the goalkeepers. While that could be seen as a dig at every other area of the pitch (and maybe it is), Bartłomiej Drągowski and Pietro Terracciano provide far and away the most underrated one-two punch in Serie A, even if EA Sports has no idea about it. I also think the defense looks superb; getting Germán Pezzella back and working LMQ into the rotation will make this group even stronger than last year.
The biggest weakness is undoubtedly the forwards. Ribery remains class but has missed at least 7 games through injury every year since 2012 and has never been prolific. Christian Kouamé is less than a year out from a cruciate injury (those usually take 18 months to fully recover from). Dušan Vlahović is full of untapped talent, but the key word is untapped. Patrick Cutrone is a serviceable option whom the club apparently regards as a liability due to his contract situation. Any of those latter three could blow up into a 15-goal scorer, but figuring out which one is like flipping a three-sided coin.
The biggest mystery for me is the midfield. There’s so much talent in that area, but Beppe has to figure out how to combine them into a unit greater than the sum of its considerable parts. If he does, we could see a push for Europe. If things remain as janky as they’ve been for the past couple of games, we’re looking at another relegation-obsessed end of season.
You’re the Fiorentina DS. Who’s the one Viola-linked player you would’ve signed? Who would have been your top priority out of every player in the world?
NN: Although it was a fairly weak rumor, I would say Mario Mandžukić. I understand he is a bit older and played for Juve, but he’s a warrior. He’s one of those players that would die on the pitch if that’s what it took to win. Also, Fiorentina had one of the youngest squads in Serie A last season and the best complement to that is to bring in veterans who’ve won before. Plus, he would definitely solve our goal scoring problem.
Out of every player in the world...probably Messi. Since his contract is up next summer we should be able to snag him then :)
TS: Out of the players we were linked with, and due to tha fact that we needed a striker I'm going to say Piątek. I know it's been a while since he's impressed but maybe playing back alongside Kouame he could have rekindled that partnership they had at Genoa.
Any player? Let's go with another attacker, and one of the top in the world right now. I know he's not the youngest but I think Robert Lewandowski could definitely do a job in Serie A, imagine him and Ribery linking up!
SG: De Paul has been a favorite of mine for a while now and is probably the best all-around player Fiorentina were linked with, but, considering how much the club needs a striker, Arek Milik would have been my top pick as someone with a good goalscoring pedigree and a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
Out of anyone give me Ciccio Caputo, no better story right now.
BL: Maybe the links weren’t as strong this summer, but I see Rodrigo De Paul as the statement signing this team needs to regain its prestige both domestically and internationally. Maybe once the stadium plans are finalized and Maurizio Sarri is hired...
Since I already mentioned him, sign me up for Erling Haaland in purple. He would terrorize Serie A.
MM: I think our biggest regret in a few years will have been not signing Samuele Ricci. We’ve seen this dance before, courting that cute midfielder, casually flirting but never making a move. AC Milan sends us their gratitude. Having a young, exciting, future Italian national in midfield waiting in the wings to take over in another year or two was simply to good to be true. The other enticing rumor (rerumor) was Junior Firpo. His videos pre-Barca are just WOW! That would have been more than nice.
Anyone huh? Maybe it’s the Fiorentina fan in me always looking for young players who could end up being the next great thing but I love what I see out of 19 year old Ansu Fati at Barcelona. I can’t imagine what we would do with his speed and skill up top. It blows my mind to imagine. He would have us saying “Chiesa Who?” right away. Yep, Ansu Fati is my choice. Thank you for letting me have my moment.
TT: I was so excited about the Junior Firpo rumors. As solid as Cristiano Biraghi has looked (his stint at Inter Milan seems to helped him a lot), Firpo is young, blindingly fast, skillful, and wouldn’t have cost much. Those two on the left would have turned that from an area of mild concern to maybe the strongest grouping in the team.
My top priority would’ve been Ondrej Duda because when I make promises, I like to deliver.
Alright, fine. Let’s talk about Federico Chiesa. What are your final thoughts on the entire mess?
NN: Così Così. You cannot blame him for wanting to play Champions League football and just generally meaningful games. Fiorentina haven’t sniffed a trophy since that miraculous Europe League run in 2015. They played young Fede in practically every position on the pitch and worked his tail off every time.
While I think he could’ve been more grateful, he is only 22 and listening to the advice of outside counsel. Fiorentina gave him his break and a little gratitude would be much appreciated. Things are still so fresh, so maybe he’ll grow up and acknowledge the impact the city and team had on his career. On a positive note, maybe Fiorentina will get more fouls called in our favor without him always diving.
TS: As Pradè said, a weight has been lifted and I have to agree. It was always going to happen, the Chiesa family had already decided and they were never going to sign a new contract. I did expect us to get more cash up front, a loan deal was not the ideal option and maybe they could have at least taken the 8 million euro up front rather than just the 2 million that they settled on. It's always sad to see a good player leave and especially one that has been at the club since he was a boy, but a footballers career can be short, they have to maximise their earnings and also possibility of success. With Juventus, Chiesa is guaranteed Champions League football and to always be in contention for silverware, something which for now is not possible with Fiorentina, so I can understand his decision. We are the fans, the ones who stick with our club through thick and thin, it's very rarely going to be like that for a professional.
SG: In the long run, Fiorentina will be better off without Chiesa. While undeniably talented, his tendency to always take one touch too many and try to do too much at times hindered the team as a whole. I get that he didn’t exactly always have great players around him, but it still felt as if he overdid it more often than not. And while it would have been nice to be able to reinvest that 50 or 60 million immediately, I think this deal will ultimately work out for us.
BL: As a fan, if a player doesn’t want to be in Florence, I don’t want them there. I don’t fault Chiesa for wanting to more money and to play at a higher level, as long as Prade and co. negotiated a fair deal for him. And... I think they kind of did? The structure of the deal is weird, and I wish Chiesa brought us more initially, but up to 60 million euros for a player who I think is far from the finished product and had just two years remaining on his contract is awesome.
However, it still hurts to see him become the second homegrown starlet in four years to move to Juventus of all places, and the lack of a high-profile replacement does not make me and the fanbase happy. If I’m Rocco, I want to make sure to have this video easily accessible, to show to any complaining fans the investment he is making in the club. That being said, I still expect a big-money signing within the next year.
MM: Chiesa was destined to leave, I don’t hate him for that. I do however despise him for the way he left. Lucas Martínez Quarta left an impassioned message on his social media, virtually embracing his fans for all of their love and support over the years. We have seen many players do the same. Federico left showing that while his father gave him a great gift of incredible skill on the pitch, he never taught him humility or tact. Rocco revealed this week how hurt he was, sharing that Federico never called him after the move went through. Federico has already shown he has fully embraced the Juventus Sith teachings in a radio interview conducted just shortly after he put pen to paper. Asked what he expects when he returns to the Franchi he replied, “It doesn’t matter if they whistle at me. They should thank me for what I gave to the Viola. They know it’s thanks to me that the Viola are still in Serie A.” Hey, Fede, go squat in a cactus patch.
While that is partly true, his treatment of the Viola fans since his transfer puts him into instant Gobbo status. Ask me in a few years what I think of Federico Chiesa and I will share with you this story as well as the time I saw him sulking the entire time at the Arthur Avenue pep rally.
My next thought is a question. What happens to Enrico Chiesa’s relationship with Fiorentina fans? As a player he had a great stay with Fiorentina, scoring 34 goals, the most he had with any one club. The comments he made publicly and his sheepish actions behind the scenes may have caused an irreparable tear between him and the citizens of the city he chose to raise his family in. I personally expected better from him. Hindsight being 20-20, I don’t know why though.
Finally, leave Lorenzo alone and stop making me feel sleazy being associated with shit fans like those four who attack a young kid on his social media! I hope Fiorentina tracks down these accounts and permabans them from any and all future Viola events.
TT: I’m probably softer on Chiesa than most fans for a few reasons. First, he’s 22. We’ve all made dumb choices at 22 and I’m willing to cut most people some slack just for that. Second, Fiorentina hasn’t helped him much. I get that he grew up in the academy and all that, but who’s the best striker he ever played with? Nikola Kalinić? Half a season of Luis Muriel? The team’s failure to build around him seems like a reasonable demonstration that his time in Florence hadn’t paid off. Athletes have brief careers and want to win, so I don’t fault him for leaving.
I don’t even necessarily despise him for moving to Juventus. He wanted to stay in Italy and the Juvenuts were the only team with the finances and inclination to buy him. Unlike Federico Bernardeschi, he didn’t make any public statements of loyalty weeks before faking illness to force a move through. While his exit stung me more than I wanted, he was at least fairly professional about it.
What leaves a bad taste in my mouth is what happened after he signed. Yes, Fiorentina fans booed him. But his refusal to say goodbye to the club he’d called home for more than a decade and the city that had embraced him as one of its own shows an emotional distance that rubs me the wrong way. Players, like any workers, deserve the right to choose where they ply their trade. But slipping away like it was a one-night stand feels pretty scummy; that’s what makes me lose respect for Chiesa (which I’m sure will keep him up at night).
Let’s wrap this up. Give the mercato a grade and add your prediction for Fiorentina’s finish in the table this year.
NN: Woof, this Mercato was a weird one. Overall I’d probably give it a 6 out of 10. They brought in some veteran leadership and fan favorites in the form of José Callejón and Borja Valero. Couple that with the exciting young talents they’ve added like LMQ and Amrabat, it wasn’t the worst we’ve seen.
What hurts it from getting a passing grade is the failure to bring in a true #9 (in case I haven’t said that before) and the loss of Chiesa. We can get another person to play RWB, but it’s hard to replace that talent. Not only could he take players on, but he also had what seemed like and unlimited engine. Those two misses really hurt the overall score for Daniele Pradè.
At the start of the season I genuinely thought that a 7th place finish wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. However, given the questionable start to the season and current coaching staff, I am going to say 10th at best. I would love to be proven wrong, but I think another poor season is needed for Rocco to really clean house and bring in some much needed change.
TS: Did I mention we needed a striker? So I can really only give it a 6/10. That said, I'm excited about what Quarta and Callejon can bring to the team.
I think we're probably looking at a similar season to the last. A struggle at the start, maybe a new manager coming in to steady the ship and get the best out of this squad. In the end I do expect to see us in the top half but outside of Europe, an 8th place finish.
SG: I think a 5/10 is a fair assessment. The midfield has been reinforced, as has the backline with Martinez Quarta, but overall it was too imbalanced and losing Chiesa last-minute was a real dagger. It all had the feeling more of getting whoever was available opposed to having a real plan in place.
I don’t see how Fiorentina can go any higher than ninth this year unless a legitimate scorer miraculously emerges.
BL: Given the amount of money Fiorentina shelled out this summer, I think Daniele Prade did an excellent job value-wise. I’m fine with waiting until January for a striker to see if Vlahovic or Kouame can break out. However, the lack of a Chiesa replacement and spending in general makes me rate the window a 5/10.
I’m picking Fiorentina to finish 9th because I don’t think we’re more talented than any of the top-seven squads, and Sassuolo is simply better-coached. I like Iachini, but he’s not going to be the man to lead us back to Europe. I view this season as an intermission while Rocco works on his #1 priority, a new stadium. Once that massive revenue stream can be forecasted, I expect the real investment in the squad to begin, starting with the coach. A similar mercato next summer would be unacceptable.
MM: I expect most will rate this a 5/10 and I argued that this mercato wasn’t as bad as some suggest, so I will go with a 6/10, largely because of the purchase of Martínez Quarta. By the way, have we mentioned him enough to abbreviate his name yet? I sure hope so.
Bringing back Valero should also have lasting impact. I am hopeful he stays with the club and in the city he and his wife love long after he is done lacing up the cleats. There is so much this brilliant soccer mind can add for this club and city. And Borja is my soccer-boo.
The fact that we missed on Ricci (or a similar talent) really pulls this mercato down. This mercato is missing a talent to fill the void Chiesa leaves. It could get a sailor-cursing parrot to replace his class.
And damnit Rocco, where is my Ansu Fati? All it would take is a smooth €80-100m! You have been here a full year and you have yet to break €100m for a single player. What utter and absolute malarkey! Let’s bring back the Delle Valle... errr, uhhh. Bring back Cecchi Gori... nope that’s not right either. Bring back Flavio Pontello... What’s that? He’s dead? Are you sure? What? No owner has delivered Fiorentina a Scudetto in my lifetime or yours? What? No, that can’t be right. Rocco’s only been here a year? Oh, well ok then. Maybe we should all stop being dicks to him then.
To predict a finish I’ll pull an Enrico Chiesa and sheepishly adjust the 6th place finish I predicted just a few weeks ago on our podcast to anywhere from 7th to 10th. Until I hear otherwise I will assume Beppe lines up in his trusty 3-5-2 and predict we finish 10th. If he changes to a 4-3-3 I will predict we bump all the way up to 7th. I also predict Enrico can now be seen driving around Torino in a brand new Ferrari with his left leg hanging out of the window, listening to the Imperial March. I hope for his sake Fede doesn’t wash out at Juve or the Agnelli family will quickly impound his new toy.
TT: I’d give this a 5 out of 10. Bringing back Borja and adding Jack, LMQ, and Callejón was smart. They’re all very good ancillary pieces. However, there was no replacement for Chiesa’s game-changing ability and that’s going to lose this team some points. Not replacing the team’s most important player is a massive mistake and sets everything back; for what feels like the 15th consecutive year, there’s no internal succession plan when a top player leaves and now everything is chaos.
I called for an 8th-place finish a few weeks ago, which felt like about the middle of Fiorentina’s reasonable range. Without Chiesa, I think that drops considerably. I’m saying 11th in the table and a massive shakeup among the staff, either midway through this season or next summer, will kickstart an actual rebuild rather than the circumstance-enforced half-measures we’ve seen since Rocco took over.
To reiterate: the VN staff makes no mistakes and fully expects everyone to commit our correct opinions to memory so we can bask in your adulation for our correct assessments at season’s end. This article is over.