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Fiorentina’s wage bill gives us a glimpse of Pradè’s plans

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The veteran DS has chopped and changed this squad quite a bit over the past year, and this helps us understand why.

Lira Currency Banknotes Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As is annual tradition, Gazzetta dello Sport has released its annual report (paywalled) on Serie A’s salaries. We’ll do a look at how Fiorentina stacks up against the rest of Serie A tomorrow, but for now we’re going to focus on the players. As a reminder, any deals we perceive as bad are not the fault of the player; everyone wants to get paid as much as possible and athletes shouldn’t be attacked for trying to maximize their brief earning windows.

Players with an asterisk (*) are on loan
Gazzetta dello Sport

For another reminder, it’s worth pointing out that players who arrive on free transfers generally get higher wages than they would have if they’d been bought from another club. The idea is that, by signing guys on Bosman deals, clubs save money in transfer fees and are happy to invest it in wages instead. Finally, these are all base salaries. Some of these players have incentive-based bonuses that could bump their figures up considerably [ed. note: thanks for the reminder, Hesanka], but I’m not including those clauses due to general nebulousness.

Anyways, Ribery remains the top earner, as he was last year, nearly doubling new signing José Callejón’s salary. The relatively high salaries of all the free agent signings—Ribery, Callejón, Giacomo Bonaventura, Martín Cáceres, Borja Valero—means that Fiorentina is paying a lot of money to older players. Pietro Terracciano, in fact, is the only 30+ guy not making at least 1 million.

Such lavish spending on guys in the back halves of their careers indicates that the Viola brain trust decided the Stefano Pioli-era teams were too young and needed more experience, which probably isn’t an incorrect conclusion. However, this does mean that a lot of Rocco Commisso’s money is going to players with little resale value, effectively rendering them sunk costs.

It can also lead to some friction among the players; we’ve all heard about Germán Pezzella and Nikola Milenković’s dissatisfaction with their current situations, and it’s not too hard to see why from this table, which shows both of them being significantly underpaid compared to their contributions to the team. While Danielè Prade is reportedly working on new contracts for both of them, one way to avoid this in the future could be a more proactive approach to pay raises for proven performers.

On the other hand, the Viola DS is also hard at work getting new contracts for Gaetano Castrovilli and Dušan Vlahović. The former actually got his current deal last October, but his continued rise and Rocco’s stated desire to make him the first of Fiorentina’s new bandiere means that keeping him paid is probably a top priority. The raise for Vlahović, meanwhile, is a gamble on the potential the big man has flashed rather than a reflection of regular contributions.

One reason Pradè is likely wary of handing out too many extensions is that it leaves a roster full of players who don’t seem to be in the first team plans. Riccardo Saponara, Valentin Eysseric, and Tòfol Montiel all got this ignominious designation in his recent press conference. With other guys like Sebastian Cristoforo and Kevin-Prince Boateng also shuffled off without any profit, you can see why a club might opt for shorter contracts if possible, as it would offer greater financial flexibility.

Largely due to the influx of veteran players this summer, Fiorentina’s wage bill is the 7th-highest in Serie A, although there’s also some pretty clear stratification in those rankings. Like I said, we’ll dive into the league-wide comparison tomorrow. For now, let’s think about what we can learn about Fiorentina’s short- and long-term plans from how it’s spending on players.