There’s not much positivity at Fiorentina right now, for good reason. Being 17th place in the table is not fun, and has caused Rocco Commisso to send the Viola on a retiro to sort their s*** out. Even with Beppe Iachini gone, Cesare Prandelli has been unable to reverse Fiorentina’s fortunes. As a result, Sporting Director Daniele Pradé is the man now under fire from the fanbase. Pradé’s second stint with the club has now lasted three full mercatos, meaning that we can now review his work with perspective. I’ll be taking a look at Pradé’s summer 2019 mercato, his first back in charge. This is not going to include Pantaleo Corvino’s last signings (sorry, Aleksa Terzic). The basic question I’m asking with this review is: should Pradé be trusted with Rocco Commisso’s money in January?
Pol Lirola- €13 Million
The most expensive acquisition, Lirola was brought in to be a locked-in starter at right-back. His ability has been clear at points. He’s extremely good on the ball and has the athleticism to get by defenders at ease. However, the defensive side of his game and link-up play is still lacking, to the point where both Martin Caceres and Lorenzo Venuti have started over him under Prandelli. I like Lirola as a player and think he could still be a success in Florence after Nikola Milenkovic and Caceres leave. Still, he hasn’t come close to justifying his price tag, so this signing is a Pradé failure.
Pedro- €11 Million
Not really sure where to start with this one. In terms of talent identification, Pradé did a good job—Pedro’s clearly a level above Fiorentina’s current strikers. By selling Pedro, Pradé also netted Fiorentina about €5 million in capital gains. But, Pedro never helped the Viola on the field, totaling 59 minutes across four matches. In addition, his current value is probably closer to €20 million and will keep rising if he continues getting called up to the Seleçāo. I can’t give a grade higher than a B to a player who hardly played for Fiorentina. Pedro’s legacy in Florence will be what is done with the money recouped for him.
Erick Pulgar- €10 Million
The best signing of this mercato, Pulgar was the most consistent midfielder for the Viola last year. The Chilean has had a rough start to this campaign, but to be fair who hasn’t? (Besides you, Drago). I’ll give this signing an A- for two reasons. Firstly, Pulgar has been a solid player for the Viola. He’s played in 45 Serie A matches from a possible 49, even while dealing with Covid earlier this fall. Secondly, I’d expect us to fetch double his price tag on the market if we were to sell him right now. Not a bad return on investment, and a good Pradé signing.
Bobby Duncan- €2 Million?? (Probably a lot less)
Yep, we’ve already hit this part of the mercato. Duncan played a total of zero times for the Fiorentina first team before moving back to England with Derby County. I can’t find confirmation anywhere online of the exact fee we paid for him, as well as what Derby paid. My guess is that Duncan had a tough time reaching any performance incentives Fiorentina included in the transfer, so he may have cost very little. It’s hard to judge this signing without knowing how much we gained/lost from the transaction, as I’m not against taking a risk on young players with high potential.
Kevin Prince Boateng- €1 Million
I’m starting to notice a theme here. Boateng is also no longer in Florence, totaling 685 minutes and a goal the Viola last fall. While KPB was a great player back in the day, his Fiorentina career was pretty irrelevant, unfortunately. Hopefully, he’s having fun with Berlusconi and co. in Monza.
Martin Caceres- Free
Caceres seems like a fine person, and I understand that having the chance to bring in a player of his pedigree on a free must be tempting. The only issue is that Caceres is nowhere near the player he once was. Watching him hand the opposition chance after chance each week is one of the most frustrating parts of being a Fiorentina fan. I’m going to stop thinking about him now because I’m starting to feel sad.
Franck Ribery- Free
The most polarizing player on this list, I feel conflicted about the signing and will until he leaves. On the one hand, Ribery put Fiorentina back onto the map. When I talk to friends of mine who casually follow the beautiful game, it is always only Franck (and sometimes Martin Caceres) who they recognize. In addition, Franck has produced some magical moments with the Viola. His assists against Inter, goal against Milan, and performance against Lazio last summer all come to mind. On the other hand, he has been injured on and off. That may be expected given his age and history, but it’s still a disappointment. When he does play, Fiorentina feels “Ribery Reliant,” where the game slows down and his teammates are waiting for him to do something with the ball. Also, this season he’s looked pretty poor barring the Inter game I mentioned. I still don’t hate the signing given his pedigree and the lack of cost, but by no means has Ribery been a slam dunk in Florence.
Pietro Terriciano (Free)
Honestly, great job Pradé. Terracciano has looked good whenever I’ve seen him and seems happy to be a backup. The fact the backup keeper gets the highest grade on this list is depressing, but c’est la vie.
Loanees- (Badelj, Ghezzal, Dalbert)
All three were players brought in to be stopgaps, and all three did their jobs just fine. I’ll give a shout to Ghezzal here, who provided my favorite moment post-lockdown last year.
Final Grade: C-
This may change slightly given the events of the next few months and years, but even in a best-case scenario, I have a hard time seeing this window breaking a B-. Prade spent more than 30 million euros on transfer fees and only found one consistent starter in return. While these signings look bad individually, what’s even more damning is that none of the three managers the Viola have had since last summer has found a way to get the most from all the major purchases at the same time. In addition, this was the first window with Rocco Commisso’s backing in the Mercato, leaving the above signings feeling like even more of a missed opportunity. All in all, a very poor window from Pradé, and one which would leave me feeling a little cheated if I were Rocco Commisso.