If you’ve been reading my articles on Viola Nation for a while, you can probably tell that I love the summer mercato. It’s the time of year when I can dream about how I would restructure the Viola were I in Daniele Pradè and Nicolás Burdisso’s shoes.
While I was heading into a summer Mercato filled with optimism, the lack of a Lucas Torreira renewal has me cautious. Still, Fiorentina has pivoted over the last year to signing young, exciting talent such as Arthur Cabral and Jonathon Ikoné and ditching the José Callejón type deals which mired the club in midtable.
This is largely due to Burdisso, who is a close second to Vincenzo Italiano in Fiorentina’s most impactful offseason acquisition last summer. We’ll need him again this time around in the most important window of Rocco Commisso’s ownership.
Getting our summer signings right could recement the Viola as a top-7 side and allow a push for the top 4 next season. Getting them wrong... and we could be back in midtable with Beppeball back on the horizon.
The non-renewal of Torreira is a horrible start, but I do trust Pradè, and moreso Burdisso, to get it done given the funds. As much as I’ve disparaged Pradè’s work in the past, I will give him some credit here: Igor, Jack Bonaventura, and Torreira are all Pradè signings and they were pivotal to the team’s success this season. Do I still understand why he is employed by Commisso after only signing Aleksandr Kokorin and Kevin Malcuit last January? No, but it's water under the bridge as long as the results keep coming in.
With that being said, it’s always fun to daydream about what signings I would make were I in charge. I’ll try to keep this semi-realistic- that is, trying to find players that the Viola are actively interested in and setting prices for these players that are reasonable
I’m going to split this into three parts so the length isn’t too overwhelming, so you can expect an article covering the midfield and attack in the next few weeks.
In addition, I’m only going to be covering first-team ready signings as those are what I know the most about and are the easiest to forecast. So I’m hopeful for a handful of Primavera signings with high potential (ala Assane Seck) that I won’t bother predicting here.
What’s a realistic budget?
This is a tough question and one I need to answer before getting started. For starters, here’s a Transfermarkt summary of our spending since Rocco Commisso’s takeover.
Fiorentina’s mercato spending since Rocco Commisso’s takeover
|Season||Incoming Transfers Value||Outcoming Transfers Value||Net Spend|
|Season||Incoming Transfers Value||Outcoming Transfers Value||Net Spend|
|19-20||€ 56,540,000.00||€ 15,320,000.00||€ (41,220,000.00)|
|20-21||€ 55,300,000.00||€ 59,890,000.00||€ 4,590,000.00|
|21-22||€ 62,000,000.00||€ 105,950,000.00||€ 43,950,000.00|
|22-23||€ -||€ 40,000,000.00||€ 40,000,000.00|
|Total||€ 173,840,000.00||€ 221,160,000.00||€ 47,320,000.00|
If you’re confused by the 22-23 number, that’s thanks to Federico Chiesa’s loan option that was just officially purchased by Juventus. In addition, the Viola should earn at least €5 million, but more likely €10-15 million from the Conference League. Thus, Rocco doesn’t even need to dip into his own pockets for this team to significantly strengthen this summer. So, if he’s still invested in turning the Viola into a European contender, a budget of around €50 million net spend should not just be reasonable, but expected.
Thus, I’ll start with that €50 million net number in mind, and try and make our signings as reasonable as possible.
Out: Bartłomiej Drągowski, €8 million
It’s easy to forget, but Bart was Fiorentina’s second-best player last year and a major reason why Fiorentina beat the drop. Back then, I would have put his transfer value at a minimum of €15 million, and maybe even closer to 20.
Now, with one year left on his contract and seven Serie A appearances all season, his value has halved. While I understand that his lack of ability on the ball and red card issues this season would have not endeared him to Italiano, it’s still perplexing that he hasn’t been given another choice.
Bart would thrive at any club that wants to sit back and absorb pressure, as he’s the best shot-stopper I’ve ever seen playing for the Viola. This would be likeliest at a lower midtable club, but I think Bart knows he’s too good for that. Expect him to land at a good team and thrive, because he’s very talented. Southampton or Bournemouth seems to be the likeliest landing option right now. They’re not the most flattering spots, but the Premier League is a better league with more eyeballs on it than Serie A. All he needs is the right system and the support of a club to flourish.
In: Guglielmo Vicario, €12 million
Pietro Terracciano and Antonio Rosati have been great as Fiorentina’s 2nd and 3rd choice keepers, so I don’t see any reason to change them. Terracciano especially could start for a healthy number of clubs in Serie A and has been serviceable this season. However, while he’s better with his feet than Bart, he’s still not amazing, and he has nowhere near the shot-stopping ability. Bringing in a keeper who is an upgrade in both those aspects will be expensive, but necessary.
Fiorentina has been linked to a few names, namely Alessio Cragno, Alex Meret, and Vicario. While a foreign option is always a possibility, Pradè and Burdisso have settled on Empoli’s Vicario as the first option, and he is the clear favorite to be the Viola’s #1 next season.
He’s currently on loan to the Azzurri from Cagliari with a €10 million option to buy. Rumor has Fiorentina has offered Empoli a couple of million extra to activate the option then move him to Firenze, so a fee somewhere in the €12 million range is reasonable.
Watching the tape, it’s obvious why the Viola want him. Under Aurelio Andreazzoli, Empoli hardly ever plays direct out of the back, and so Vicario is constantly asked to be using his feet in the Azzurri’s buildup. He is an improvement over Terriciano in this aspect.
Secondly, he’s a solid shot-stopper. While he’s no Drago, his ability was on full display against Salernitana and Atalanta the past two weekends.
Terracciano is never making these stops. Vicario’s not the youngest at 25, and still pretty raw. However, he possesses tools in his game that Italiano would love, and this signing has grown on me a lot since rumors first started appearing a couple of months back. If he can continue improving at the same rate he has this season, we could have a great goalkeeper on our hands.
Out: Aleksa Terzić, €3 million
I’ll admit that I still don’t know a ton about Terzić. However, I don’t feel as though that’s completely my fault, as he only managed 261 minutes in Serie A this season. This means that Cristiano Biraghi has had to play nearly every minute, and heading into next season with European competition, a backup that Vincenzo Italiano trusts more is necessary. I’m sure he could find a good landing spot at a fellow Serie A club, but we need to upgrade that spot this summer.
Out: Álvaro Odriozola, end of loan
This is unfortunate, as Álvaro is a solid player and one who has really taken to playing in Firenze. However, there are too many red flags for us to consider keeping him around for another season.
The first reason would be the cost. Reports have said that Real Madrid is willing to extend his loan for another season, but Fiorentina would have to pay his full salary, a cool €4 million. As a last-ditch option, I don’t hate that price. But, when there are great right-backs out there in the €10-15 million range that would command half the salary and have great resale value, it makes little sense to sink so much money into a loan.
Second, while Odriozola is great going forwards, he is a defensive liability. And in a system where the center-backs are left isolated far too often, having a right-back who tracks back more consistently and be better positionally is a must for the Viola to improve.
Finally, Odriozola will turn 27 next year, and with his recent injury issues, it doesn’t make much sense to keep a player that will have little resell value if purchased outright and can’t be relied upon to be healthy for the entire season.
In: Andrea Cambiaso, €10 million
We know Biraghi is going to need some rest this season. Left-back is also the hardest position to find talent in. While players like Destiny Udogie and Sergio Gomez are unfortunately out of our price range at this point, there are still players who will be available that could improve the Viola significantly.
Andrea Cambiaso is one of those. While Genoa was putrid this season, he was a bright spot in his debut Serie A campaign. Only 22, his ability dribbling and getting forwards is already above-average in Serie A, and this was in a Grifoni side that only scored 27 goals all season. Fiorentina needs a young, exciting player here, and Cambiaso fits the bill. With Genoa relegated, he should be available at a reasonable price. However, with reported interest from top Serie A clubs, it will take some cash to sign him. The promise of adequate playing time with European football, however, could be enough to get this deal across the line.
In: Zeki Çelik €12 million
Yeah, I wanted him over Odriozola last summer when the Viola were linked to him. And yes, I still want him just as badly now. This would be a great window to finally put an end to Fiorentina’s right-back question, and Çelik is my favorite man to do so. Other rumored options such as Raoul Bellanova or Diego Dalot aren’t horrible, but Çelik is a class above them.
He’s still only 25, and just put in another very solid season in Ligue 1 with Lille. He’s a player who is good at just about everything, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Having a right-back who can defend well (sorry Odri) would lighten the pressure on our center-halfs and make this team better. Similarly, Çelik is solid offensively as well. Last summer, Gianluca di Marzio reported that Lille wanted €12 million for a sale. Now, with a year left on his contract, he should be available for the same price. Go out and get him, Daniele.