At 10:04 (Italian time) this morning, Fiorentina announced they have mutually parted ways with Gennaro Gattuso. At 2:33 (Italian time) THE SAME DAY, Fabrizio Romano announces that the imminent signing of Paulo Fonseca as Tottenham’s head coach has been abruptly derailed, and Genaro Gattuso is now believed to be the man who will be announced in that same position shortly.
What a difference a day and some much-needed information makes. I think fan’s initial reactions to the news of Gattuso divorcing Fiorentina were strongly impacted by the character of Gennaro Gattuso and the excitement he brought to the club. Hell, I was very excited by it. Gattuso is a man known for doing the admirable thing; giving up millions in Milan, not taking a check in Napoli to ensure his staff got paid in full, and supporting the players of OFI Crete, giving 30,000 euros to some, a few of whom had not been paid in a year.
From all accounts, Gennaro Gattuso is a great person with exceptional character, but even great people err too. Enter master puppeteer Geppetto, I mean Jorge Mendes. By now the picture looks clearer. After pillaging through several clubs recently, leaving them in financial ruins, Jorge latched onto (leeched onto) the genuine affection Rocco Commisso has for his fellow Calabrese. Gattuso made legitimate requests to start a project with Rocco. After some discussions there was an agreement. Prade received the list of desired players. What started off as a target list of players that Gattuso wanted, ended up in player inflation at rates even higher than what you see at your local grocery stores.
Players were identified and negotiations started. Take Oliveira for example. Fiorentina made a fair market offer, in line with expectations from Porto. As they continued negotiations with Oliveira, they came back to find out that the cost of the player kept going up… and up… and up. Going back to the list they contacted more and more players, all of whom were clients of Mendes. Upon approach for them they found the same thing happen – inflation.
In sales, one of the fundamental rules of negotiation is “to never negotiate with yourself”. In Mendes’s brilliant world of business, his rule is “to always negotiate with himself”. He carefully placed himself inside with Gattuso and was negotiating both sides of these agreements, or so he thought.
From what I have gathered, this isn’t only about fees and commissions. This is about a plan by Mendes to do business with himself and put more and more of his people inside of Fiorentina. In business this is called a hostile takeover. While it could have some short-term success, often it ends up in long term financial ruin that force companies to sell off their assets. And who would oversee those assets being sold off at a commissionable rate again? Yep, that Jorge Mendes.
Let’s look at Valencia. Valencia is in a world of hurt, finishing the 2020 season in financial ruins. In August of 2020 there was this announcement on Twitter, “The club can no longer pay the players. The financial situation looks dire. The leaders offered IOUs that the players logically refused. If no agreement is reached, the team will not be able to play any competition,”.
Why would a club as prestigious as Valencia face such hardships? For that you can look at corruption charges brought against Peter Lim and Jorge Mendes to start. Going back a few years, ESPN put together an article on the relationship between Manchester United, Jose Mourinho and Jorge Mendes. It wasn’t complimentary.
I am not connected enough to know Gattuso’s complicity in what played out nor if he came in with good intentions or not. History would suggest he is a stand-up guy. But if he is a stand-up guy and if Mendes is Geppetto that would make Gattuso Pinocchio, an analogy i am sure Gattuso wouldn’t like. The one thing I know about puppeteers is that sometimes puppets get tangled and they’ll fix it. Other times they get tangled and they just cut the strings. I hope Gattuso understands this. This ploy he and Mendes concocted to divorce themselves from Fiorentina may have gotten him a once in a lifetime shot in a large BPL club like Tottenham, but if he is not careful we may soon see Tottenham sign a £40million loan for Radamel Falcao and waste away his chances at proving how good of a coach he actually is.