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Stefano Pioli is top choice if Sousa leaves

Although we’ve heard nothing from official channels about Sousa’s possible exit, that hasn’t stopped the rumors from spreading.

Frosinone Calcio v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

To be clear, Fiorentina haven’t said anything about Paulo Sousa being on the hot seat. As far as we can tell, the Della Valles, Corvino, and the rest of the command structure are still cordial and supportive of the Portuguese mister. However, we’ve also heard whispers that he needs to win his next 3 Serie A matches—at Cagliari, Crotone, at Bologna—to keep his job, and that he’s starting to lose the dressing room.

We could debate the merits of Sousa’s style. We could debate whether the blame falls on him or on the management team that hasn’t provided him with any star players. But that’s way to rational for us, so we’re going to look at the man tapped as his possible replacement.

Stefano Pioli most recently coached Lazio for 2 years before being sacked after losing 4-1 to AS Roma on April 3rd of this year. He compiled a record of W44 D20 L27 with the Aquile, which is an improvement over his career mark of W193 D164 L174.

After a solid journeyman career as a centerback (including a 6-year stint with the Viola, as well as a season with Juventus), the 50-year-old Parma native broke into coaching with the Bologna Primavera, working his way up through Serie B and eventually bossing Parma, Chievo Verona, Palermo, Bologna, and Lazio; in his most impressive bit of work, he lead the Biancocelesti to a 3rd-placed finish in the 2014-2015 season.

Pioli’s Lazio kept the ball nicely, but with a purpose; they were 2nd in Serie A in goals scored in that magical 2014/5 season. He’s a bit of a tinkerer, formation-wise, and is willing to shuffle his players around if he thinks it gives him an advantage. His default shape seems to be 4-2-3-1, but he’ll happily go 4-3-3 or even 3-4-3 if it suits his needs. His teams do seem to have a nasty habit of getting players sent off. He also did a good job of bringing youngsters up for Lazio—Felipe Anderson, Ogenyi Onazi, Keita Balde, Wesley Hoedt, Danilo Cataldi—which is something Fiorentina has been trying to focus on recently.

Eusebio di Francesco has been the other popular choice for fans and media, but he seems pretty well dug in at Sassuolo. Pioli isn’t the most exciting choice, but he’d offer experience and stylistic continuity if Fiorentina and Sousa part ways. It’s always nice when a former Viola player takes the reins at the club, too. And he looks like a nicer, more Italian version of Tywin Lannister, so he’s got that going for him as well.