Fiorentina announced today that Daniele Pradè will step into Pantaleo Corvino’s recently-vacated role as the club’s Director of Sport. It will be Pradè’s second stint in this position with the Viola; he previously held the job from 2012 until 2016, sandwiched by Corvino’s tenure as DS.
“Daniele is a professional of the highest level with a proven record of success in Italian football,” said owner Rocco Commisso. “He knows the environment of Florence very well and has achieved great results in his previous seasons with the club. I’m sure that he will once again do his best for Fiorentina and Florence.”
Pradè added, “It’s a great honor for me to be able to return to Fiorentina because those years in purple were beautiful. We’ve had great satisfaction in everything we’ve achieved, but now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start over. I thank the new ownership and in particular president Commisso for having thought of me. I’ll do everything possible to repay their trust.”
After Fiorentina moved on from him in 2016, Pradè took the same role at Sampdoria, where he did a fantastic job of finding the sort of technical players prized by manager Marco Giampaolo; he also made a killing off the sale of Patrik Schick to AS Roma. Pradè moved to Udinese last year, where he notably kept Rodrigo de Paul in town despite considerable interest from bigger clubs.
Given the synergy between Pradè and manager Vincenzo Montella in their first stretch at Fiorentina together, it’s easy to be hopeful for a similar return, especially since those three consecutive fourth-place finishes would now send the Viola into the Champions League. Pradè’s always prized skill over physical power, as opposed to the latest iteration of Corvino, so he should be able to build a team well-suited to Montella’s style.
On the other hand, Pradè hasn’t always been as excellent a judge of young talent as Corvino; his high-profile misses on prospects like Andrés Schetino cost the team a lot of money with zero returns, and his inability to lock up youngsters like Nicolo Zaniolo and Gianluca Mancini to long-term extensions is very frustrating. Too, Villarreal barely avoided the drop this year, so he won’t have the luxury of signing Borja Valero, Giuseppe Rossi, and Gonzalo Rodríguez on discounted deals.
For those wondering what exactly the director of sport, or DS, actually does, the answer is as vague as the job title. While the duties vary from club to club (and often from executive to executive within the club), the DS is generally in charge of overseeing the financial affairs of the footballing side of the organization. In plainer English, that means the DS runs the mercato and the negotiations with the club’s current players for contract extensions.
With such a young squad in Florence, a steady hand like Pradè—who’s generally pretty good at finding effective veterans at lower prices—should help calm things down a bit. While rehashing the Pradè/Montella combo isn’t the most exciting option imaginable, the fans can at least heave a sigh of relief that there’s some sort of plan with 3 weeks remaining until the transfer window opens.
If Commisso follows through on his promise of a sizable transfer kitty, that’s plenty of time for Pradè to formulate a lot of plans to improve this ailing team. The first step will be convincing Federico Chiesa to stay for at least another year; the DS’s success at hanging onto de Paul last year in Udine offers another sliver of hope for the Viola tifosi. Other than that, it’ll just be a simple matter of upgrading pretty much every player on the pitch. What we’re saying is that Pradè will be a busy man, so he won’t have time to soak in the glow of his second Tuscan appointment.