As we all know, Fiorentina has kind of sucked for the last half-decade, finishing 8th, 8th, 16th, 10th, and 13th. To put this into more perspective, from 2006-2011 the Viola notched 290 points in Serie A. From 2011-2016, 309 points. From 2016 to 2021? Just 247 points. That’s more than 12 points less a campaign, which is more than enough to turn a club from perenially competing in Europe to a mid-table mainstay.
Fiorentina will attempt to break out of this funk this season, with a new mister (Vincenzo Italiano) at the helm yet again. There are certainly a lot of question marks on the Viola’s roster, as Tito explained well. The squad is too bloated as is, but three or four quality players are still needed to be serious about European contention.
However, the disorganization of the squad doesn’t take away from the fact that this Viola team is still very talented compared to other squads in Serie A. Yes, Fiorentina is not good enough to compete with any of last year's top seven, but by taking a step back and looking at the squads around them, there’s a real opportunity for Fiorentina to assert themselves as the 8th best team in Serie A.
While it’s way too early to make predictions for next season, let’s take a look at every team other than the top seven and see how they’re stacking up so far. We’ll go in order of how teams finished last year.
The Neroverdi have been excellent for the last couple of seasons, in large part due to the tutelage of Roberto De Zerbi. He’s now left for Shakhtar Donetsk, and Sassuolo has replaced him with former Empoli manager Alfedro Dionisi. Dionisi resembles our own hiring of Italiano in some ways, as an up-and-coming manager with little experience. Dionisi is even less experienced than Italiano, as this will be his first year of Serie A experience. He’ll also have to do without the club’s best player, Manuel Locatelli, who is set to be sold. We’ll see if Domenico Berardi sticks around, but regardless Locatelli’s departure and a new manager will be a major adjustment for the club. Regardless, there’s still a solid core and Sassuolo has excellent recruitment, so I don’t expect them to stumble too much. However, it’s hard for me to see them doing better than last season when they tied Roma for seventh and knocked on the door of the Europa Conference League. A small step back is likely.
While I don’t expect Sassuolo to stumble too much, I can’t say the same about Samp. Claudio Ranieri’s 10th place finish with the Blucerchiati went under the radar last season, as the squad itself was less talented than 52 points would suggest. Now, Ranieri has gone, citing a lack of ambition within the club, and his replacement highlights that fact. Roberto D’Aversa is fresh off winning one match from 23 in his second stint with Parma, so I’m not sure what still qualifies him for a Serie A job. The Samp squad does have some quality (see Mikkel Daamgaard) but with D’Aversa at the helm and no heavy investment, they’ll move back at least a couple of places in the table. #1 in the power rankings of clubs Beppe is most likely to coach next season.
Are we starting to see a theme here? Verona has punched well above their weight for the last two seasons under Ivan Juric, taking a roster that talent-wise belonged around the relegation zone well into mid-table. With Jurić gone to Torino, the Gialloblu lost the most important component of their club. And by replacing him with Eusebio Di Francesco, they are seriously flirting with relegation. It took miracle work from Leonardo Semplici to haul Cagliari out of the hole EDF left them in last season, and that’s a team far better than Verona. With the club unlikely to invest and EDF’s appointment requiring a complete change of system, I don’t see how Verona finish better than lower mid-table next campaign. #2 in the Beppe power rankings.
A fine roster with fine players, but nothing about this team suggests they’ll be anything special. Definition of a bland midtable team. A strong mercato could change my opinion, but I don’t expect that.
Marko Arnautovic is an interesting signing and Sinisa Mihailovic sticking around does offer continuity. I think this team could exceed expectations- but losing Takehiro Tomiyasu and potentially Riccardo Orsolini hurts, and Fiorentina have more talent in every facet of the pitch. A team to watch, however, and my early pick for the surprise package of next season.
It’s hard to state how important Rodrigo De Paul was to this team, whose nine goals and 11 assists kept the Zebrette afloat. They also had one of the best keepers in Serie A, Juan Musso, who’s left for Bergamo to become Atalanta’s new #1. How the €60 million received for those two is spent will determine Udinese’s fate, but an eighth-place finish? Barring some Ewing theory magic, no chance. #3 in the Beppe power rankings.
Don’t think I need to do much explaining here. Italiano did an excellent job with the Aquilotti last year, and his replacement Thiago Motta has two months of Serie A experience. I don’t expect Spezia to spend big in the Mercato either, so they’ll be happy just to stay up again next year.
Leonardo Semplici did a great job to keep the Isolani up last season, and now has a full mercato to find players suited to his 3-5-2. Potentially losing Nahitan Nandez to Leeds hurts, but if Semplici is properly backed Cagliari should be a solid team. Similar to Bologna, however, I still expect Fiorentina to be better in practically every area. In addition, with fans back in the stadium, there’s not much of a comparison between the atmosphere of the Franchi versus the Sardegna Arena, which could give the Viola another edge. This is a team to watch in the mercato.
Torino’s excellent appointment of Ivan Juric has gone under the radar, and now it’s up to Umberto Cairo and co. to build a squad suited to his needs. Losing Andrea Belotti seems likely, as the striker only has a year left on his deal and won’t be signing a new contract. Even without Belotti, the Granata still have plenty of good pieces (Bremer, Antonio Sanabria, Rolando Mandragora) to build around, and should be closer to Europe than relegation this year. Whether Belotti goes or not, however, will determine if this club has any chance of pushing past mid-table and towards Europe.
Newly Promoted Clubs
There’s not a single team here that is built to hit the ground running in Serie A, and similar to last season, I expect multiple to go straight back down. Try and get that away day to Venice in while you can.
Fiorentina may have a lot of unknowns for next season, but looking around the league, the Viola are far from the exception. Plenty of clubs are losing star players and hiring questionable managers, which the Viola should steer clear free (Don’t leave Dusan). That being said, it means excuses are few and far between for the Viola to not finish in 8th next year, although we’ll have a much clearer picture as the mercato gets into full swing in the next couple of weeks.