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Andrea Della Valle: “We’re targeting 7th”

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Oh no, Andrea. Oh. No.

Esquire Cocktail Party
wow very adv
Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for Esquire

Famously prickly Viola patron Andrea Della Valle joined Fiorentina at Moena recently and spoke to reporters ahead of the 2-1 friendly win over Hellas Verona. He talked about this summer’s transfer strategy, the Europa League, the team’s goals for next year, and the Sisyphean task of getting the club its own stadium, and he came so close to not making himself a laughingstock /target of ire.

He opened, naturally, with a discussion of the mercato, which he called 85% finished while praising the work Pantaleo Corvino has done thus far. “But rushing makes you make mistakes. You need patience,” said the bespectacled owner, adding, “A creative second part of the market will serve. Corvino is very good at this. And selling the extra players, we can have another little treasure to invest in.” While it’s possible that this is intentional misdirection, Andrea has never shown the self-control necessary to take him at anything but face value. Therefore, it seems likely that a few more players—perhaps two or more of Valentin Eysseric, Cyril Théréau, Vincent Laurini, Riccardo Saponara, and Sebastian Cristoforo—will be sold, with maybe a few more youngsters—maybe David Hancko, Petko Hristov, Martin Graiciar, Marco Meli—being loaned. Reading between the lines and knowing the club’s methods, it seems likely that there’s money for one more decent player, and after that, any purchases will have to come from sales of other players.

In an abrupt departure from his usual self, ADV told the press, “I don’t want anything I say about the situation to be exploited,” about the TAS ruling tomorrow that will determine whether or not AC Milan‘s European ban, and the Viola’s Europa League return, will stand. His only addendum was, “Certainly because of how we played in the second half, despite the tragedy we suffered, we deserve it.” It was a nice job of avoiding a potential war of words with the Rossoneri, and everyone exhaled a little bit.

He kept up the good work when someone asked him to go into greater detail about the mercato. “Unlike other teams, we have defended our jewels by refusing huge offers for Chiesa, Simeone, Milenković, and others [ed. note: who the heck else on this team would be subject to a “huge offer?”]. Crowing about these successes indicates that he intends to hold onto that troika for at least another year, which should make fans happy. He mentioned the importance of keeping a balance between the club and the fans: “Yesterday evening [at the Viola-themed party in Moena’s town square] I saw that people were happy, but we must all improve here. There have been mistakes on the part of everyone, but the conditions to impose a new, beautiful relationship between the various components exist.” Wow. Measured. Level-headed. We like this new, chill Andrea.

Of course, “chill” is not a word we associate with ADV, and the gathered reporters knew exactly how to get a sound byte from him: asking about the team’s objectives. The response is enough to make most fans cringe. “I’ve always said that we can aim for Europa League qualification. There are 5, 6 teams stronger than us with massive turnover at the top. We’re targeting seventh, which is our objective.” Such a lack of ambition is going to sit poorly with a lot of tifosi, especially with Napoli and Milan looking vulnerable while Lazio is likely to regress. While it’s not realistic to challenge for the Scudetto right now—and the fans understand that—admitting that the Champions League isn’t even part of the discussion will rightfully ruffle some feathers, especially when he followed up by talking about keeping “a healthy balance.”

And, being Andrea Della Valle, he had to bring the new stadium into it; apparently the next meeting with the city government is scheduled for September, with a date yet to be determined for a decision. He expressed confidence that it would all work out based on the recent performances of Italian football in general and Fiorentina particularly.

So naturally Florence mayor Dario Nardella immediately fired back with the rejoinder that the current deal to talk about a stadium expires at the end of the year and that nobody from Fiorentina has talked to his office about any further negotiations.

Oh, Andrea. Buddy. You came so close (or at least so much closer than we’ve come to expect) to keeping your foot out of your mouth, but now all you can taste is toes.