Well, well, well. After months of drama surrounding Dušan Vlahović and a potential contract extension, Rocco Commisso came out two days ago and announced that Vlahović will not renew. Implicitly, this means he’ll be sold. When that happens, however, is the big question. The likelier option is that he moves on in the Summer of 2022, when all top European clubs do the majority of their business.
In announcing Dušan’s inevitable departure, Rocco Commisso is taking a risk. While I commend Rocco Commisso for his transparency to the fans, who knows what will happen in the locker room once the fans inevitably start whistling Dušan at the Franchi. For a team that has bought in on Vincenzo Italiano’s playstyle, having the most valuable player wanting out will be a constant source of tension and distraction both on and off the pitch.
For that reason, I’m of the opinion that if we can find an offer similar to the €60 million Atletico Madrid offered last August (from anyone other than Juventus), sell him. If he doesn’t want to go, then he doesn’t need to play.
I’m all for player power in general, as there are countless times clubs have screwed over a players’ career by not selling them out of spite or because a player is locked into a long-term contract. However, every case is different, and in Dušan’s it doesn’t leave him looking great. After constant talk this summer about how he loved Florence and playing for Fiorentina, how he would renew when a contract was offered, he turned his back on the club and city. Not just for any contract, but the richest one in Fiorentina’s history.
After Atletico’s bid arrived on the eve of the Roma match, Rocco Commisso and Vlahović reportedly sat down to discuss his future with the club. Whether the bid was to be accepted or not was still up in the air. While I can’t be sure what was said, I feel comfortable saying that if Dušan had unequivocally said “I’m not renewing no matter what,” then he would be in Madrid today. But, he didn’t, and now Fiorentina is in a position where they will be lucky to receive that same amount for him.
At the same time, Rocco Commisso isn’t faultless. If the rumors about Dušan’s agent reneging on the contract are true, this is the second time an agent has screwed over the club in the last six months (@Jorge Mendes). Rocco and Joe Barone have now been in Calcio for over two years, and these aren’t the types of things that are super commonplace at the best-run clubs in Italy.
Rocco has invested plenty in the club, specifically in Viola Park, and covering the club’s losses due to Covid-19. While several great players were brought in last summer, it’s worth mentioning that the total net spend was about even. By selling Pedro alone, we had a negative net spend in January. In short, there was an affordable opportunity to bring in someone like Domenico Berardi, which may have convinced Dušan to re-sign.
At the end of the day, I think Dušan is still a better player than Federico Chiesa was when he left for Juventus almost exactly one year ago today. And we’ve all seen what’s happened with Chiesa. Selling Vlahovič will hurt, there’s no doubt. Still, Fiorentina possesses an excellent young coach in Vincenzo Italiano, and by selling Vlahović and replacing him properly in January, the club will be better off for it. Dušan or not, the Viola should be a better team a year from now than today. In the meantime, get rid of him as soon as possible, and bring in Berardi and Belotti.