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Regrading the 2023 summer transfer window

As we teeter on the cusp of the winter mercato, let’s take a look back at how we got here.

ACF Fiorentina v West Ham United FC - UEFA Europa Conference League Final 2022/23 Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

We’re not technically at the halfway point of the season—that’ll come after next week’s tangle at Sassuolo—but we’re close enough, and the schedule gives us a bit of a break right now to inhale and think. I’m very grateful for that, of course, but I’d also like to take this moment to revisit the summer mercato. I’ll take a look back a preseason expectations in the coming days as well, but let’s start with the transfer window.

ARRIVALS

Oliver Christensen

After striking out on some better-known alternatives, a bargain deal for the Dane felt a bit underwhelming, and we were of course concerned that he’d be just another of Pietro Terracciano’s victims, following in the footsteps of Bartłomiej Drągowski, Pierluigi Gollini, and Salvatore Sirigu. While he hasn’t supplanted the World’s Funnest Dad yet, he’s had some good performances and is working his way into the hearts of Fiorentina fans.

Grade: C+ Doing just fine

Yerry Mina

Grabbing the veteran on a free transfer felt like a decent low-risk gamble, and that’s what’s it’s proven to be. He’s fine in a deep line but injuries have sapped his explosiveness, rendering him a liability in a high line. He’s probably making a bit more money that the 4th centerback needs to make, but he’s got a 1-year deal, so it’s probably fine. If Fiorentina has to count on him to start a bunch of games, enough other things have gone wrong that that the season’s already ruined anyways.

Grade: C Pretty much exactly what we expected

Fabiano Parisi

We were very excited about young Fabi when he signed, seeing as he’s regarded as one of Italy’s premier young fullbacks. He’s mostly lived up to expectations, showing flashes of excellence, although he wasn’t great when forced to play on the right side. He’s still definitely behind Cristiano Biraghi in the pecking order but is growing under the captain’s tutelage and should take over the leftback spot in another season or two.

Grade: C+ The grade would be higher if he hadn’t been forced to play on the wrong side, but he’s been exactly as advertised and that’s great

Arthur Melo

I’ll be the first to admit my skepticism. Arthur was a Juventus player coming off several lost seasons due to injuries and partying. While undeniably talented, he lacks anything approaching Sofyan Amrabat’s physical dominance, and I thought the lack would doom Fiorentina to getting pushed around the middle. Instead, the Brazilian has proven to be the best Viola regista since David Pizarro, setting the tempo with his passing and bossing the first two thirds of the pitch. His partnership with Alfred Duncan has been beautiful music and he’s been, by all accounts, a model professional. Hopefully there’s a way to make the move permanent this summer.

AC Monza v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A TIM Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Grade: B+ I wouldn’t mind a bit more influence in the final third but he’s been marvelous

Maxime Lopez

Brought in on the cheap from Sassuolo, I thought Maxy was a decent option in the middle, given the role he’d played for the Neroverdi. A quick, technical, pint-sized midfielder who excels at progressing the ball seemed exactly what this new Fiorentina wanted. Instead, he’s been too lightweight to control the middle. While he’s had some decent moments, he hasn’t been nearly as good in Florence, resulting in a drop behind Rolando Mandragora to 4th choice.

Grade: D+ Hasn’t really arrived yet and needs to pick it up or he’ll be back in Sassuolo next year

Gino Infantino

The 20-year-old arrived with a reputation for untapped potential with Rosario Central, with nobody even sure of his best position. When he was still a rumor, I wrote, “Because of that positional uncertainty, he probably needs at least a year or two of deeply engaged coaching to figure out his role before he’s ready to contribute regularly.” That’s proven to be the case, as he’s definitely not ready for Serie A yet outside the occasional cameo.

Grade: C- I’m still high on his long-term fit but he’s definitely a signing for the future, not the present

Lucas Beltrán

After a strong couple years at River Plate, the 22-year-old was brought in to help lead the line and solve Fiorentina’s post-Vlahović blues. He didn’t hit the ground running, which is no surprise; a young player taking his first steps outside his native country, learning a foreign language and an entirely new tactical system that didn’t really play to his strengths, but he’s started to come on of late. I still maintain that it’ll take him a full season to really get his feet under him, but the early signs are encouraging.

AC Monza v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A TIM
He’s also produced one of my favorite Fiorentina photos of 2023.
Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Grade: C+ Not lighting the league on fire in his first few months doesn’t mean he’s a failure

M’Bala Nzola

Brought in to help ease the transition to a Beltrán-led attack, the veteran was supposed to be a perfect fit for Italiano’s approach, having worked under him at two previous stops and led the line effectively. He hasn’t managed that in Florence yet. More than his lack of goals (3 in 1353 minutes, or 1 every 451), his passivity has been a concern, as he’s often static and hesitant to throw himself around. Combine that with some Luka Jovićesque misses and it’s not unfair to say that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. The team’s tactics aren’t a perfect fit for his strengths, in fairness, but that’s only a partial exoneration at most.

Grade: D There’s plenty of time to turn it around this year but the symptoms are worrying.

DEPARTURES

Igor

He’d had a bad year, regressing significantly from his 2021 breakout into one of Serie A’s finest defenders, so it made some sense to sell him for a massive profit. All the mistakes were getting a little too much to bear, and with Luca Ranieri’s rise, it didn’t make sense to keep him around to be the 4th-choice defender.

Grade: A I still like him but it was time for the paths to diverge, and €17 million was tough to refuse

Sofyan Amrabat

He started the year looking like Serie A’s most destructive force and reached even greater heights at the World Cup, assuring his eventual departure. He wasn’t as good in the back half, but that’s fine. His exit dragged on until deadline day, but sending him to Manchester United for a €10 million loan and €20 million due at season’s end felt like decent business. That he’s been infected with the same awful virus that infects every Man U player, to the point that Erik Ten Hag is reportedly ready to get rid of him, feels like a pretty fine bit of business, although figuring out what to do with him this summer could be weird.

Grade: B+ Imagine if he decides that Florence was a pretty great place after all and sticks around

Riccardo Saponara

Saponara left on great terms and will always be welcome in Florence, but it was probably time for him to go. Cheese bangers aside, he just wasn’t able to affect games against higher opposition, and at 32 (happy birthday last week, by the way), he wasn’t a candidate for another contract. It’s a shame that he’s had such a tough time at Hellas Verona (just 2 starts), as he’s one of the most charismatic players around when he’s dialed in. I’ll never stop loving him and neither should you.

Grade: C+ He certainly would’ve been a better option than, say, Josip Brekalo, but it was time to end his beautiful years in Florence

Abdelhamid Sabiri

Sampdoria fans turned on him towards the end of the season and he fled to Germany, which meant he arrived surrounded by a cloud of bad vibes, especially with Morocco teammate Amrabat desperate to leave. Clashes with Italiano over his role—Sabiri thought he deserved to start—led to an unceremonious departure to Al-Fayha in Saudi Arabia, where he played well before picking up an injury. I was hopeful for him but as soon as he chose that cursed number 27, I knew it was over.

Grade: F Paying for a player and immediately losing him over his role at the club without playing a single minute is a colossal cockup

Arthur Cabral

It took half a season for the big doofus to get comfortable, but he responded with a strong campaign (17 goals, or 1 every 150 minutes), including a couple of stunners. With Jović on the way out, it looked like he’d finally get the chance to lead the line, but Benfica offered €20 million and the Viola couldn’t say no. He hasn’t taken off in Lisbon at all, scoring just 4 goals while falling down the pecking order and developing an acrimonious relationship with the fans.

Grade: C The plusvalenza was too large to refuse but Fiorentina would be a lot better with him up front this year

Luka Jović

Despite a reasonably successful campaign (13 goals or 1 every 184 minutes), the Serbian’s petulant ego kept him from ever capturing the hearts and minds of fans, and most saw the dissolution of his deal to let him go on a free as a win for the club. He’s somehow continued failing upward, signing for AC Milan and enjoying a decent run of late, but nobody’s mad at the Fiorentina brass for getting rid of him, especially with the vibes around the current atmosphere of joy and positivity in the current squad starting to look pretty special.

Grade: B+ He was absolutely a gamble worth taking, but not every bet pays off, and removing his salary from the books is a huge win