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An optimistic Joe Barone on his hopes for the new Prandelli era, but with strong words for the critics

Speaking to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Joe talks about managers old and new, attacking options, and also hits out at those spreading rumours

Hellas Verona v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Joe looks to the future
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Still in quarantine, Joe Barone spoke to Luca Calamai in a Gazzetta Dello Sport interview published today.

Barone is described here as a caged lion, forced to stay at home anxiously waiting for a negative test result to allow him back to where he longs to be. With Cesare Prandelli almost a week into his return to Fiorentina, Joe would love to be working beside him right now. “I would even wear an astronauts outfit if it means I could be with the squad at the Centro Sportivo.”

Despite his enforced absence, Joe’s only thoughts are about the club and it’s future. “We want to take the club to the same level as this city, which means being on the international stage. We need a little patience but all the elements around the club are pushing us in that direction.” He also spoke about the new Centro Sportivo “We’ve taken a very important step. Our wish is that by January 2022 all our members are training at Bagno a Ripoli. Then there is the issue of the stadium. I feel deeply hurt, I expected more, but I’m not giving up.”

Speaking about the recent dismissal of Giuseppe Iachini and the arrival of Prandelli “First I want to say that we had a sincere relationship with Iachini, of the utmost respect. But in football you need to look at the results. From a personal point of view we were sorry to have to let Beppe go but we had no other choice. It was a decision shared by all of us. I’m referring to Rocco, to myself and to Daniele Pradè. I’m saying this because someone, in an attempt to destabilize the situation, spoke about divisions within the club. We won’t accept these attacks, wherever they come from. And I believe that the fans won’t accept them either. The general situation is very delicate. We are living through a terrible moment. Covid is causing a World War but still..”

“I thank Rocco who wakes up every morning and tells us ‘let’s go forward, let’s continue to invest’. With the Centro Sportivo and the losses of these first two years, we’ve arrived at 300 million, I think it’s the biggest investment in the history of Fiorentina in such a short period of time. It’s since last February, the game with AC Milan, that no money is coming in, apart from the TV rights. What other owners would invest as much? Rocco has already put in a lot of money, all the players and employees are paid as normal, and most of all he always puts his heart into it. We are 100% united and it’s difficult to have to listen to lies or invented stories. We respect everyone, we’re transparent and we speak honestly. It would be fair to receive the same treatment.”

On why they chose to go with Cesare Prandelli “I met Cesare at the memorial event for the journalist Alessandro Rialti. And straight away I had a very good impression. The truth is that it was Prandelli who wanted Fiorentina.”

How so? “ In our first meeting he didn’t ask for a 3 year contract and he didn’t tell me that he would take us into Europe immediately. We spoke about football, relationships, happiness and the group. He believes in our club that rewards people on merit, and in the value of the squad as it is. I’ll admit, with Prandelli I could have discussed football for hours and hours. After this meeting, together with Daniele Pradè, we told Rocco that he was the right person.”

He then spoke of the different ideas that Prandelli has compared to Iachini “They are ideas that I’m convinced will enhance our three forwards, Vlahovic, Cutrone and Kouame, three excellent players. Cesare’s game will also get more from Ribery, who sometimes wastes energy when there’s no need, it will improve the performance of Castrovilli who started off really well and also of Amrabat, who was and still remains a great buy.”

What about the other new arrivals? “Of course. Callejon with Cesare will do something special. It’s a pity he was hit by Covid. We were slowly getting him back to peak condition. I hope he doesn’t fall too far behind again. Quarta will also do well, it’s a pity about his sending off at the Olimpico. Prandelli also thinks the same as us about another aspect.”

Which is? “That it’s forbidden to talk about the season already being over. I repeat, forbidden. This Fiorentina will give us a lot of surprises. Unfortunately at the moment I can’t go in front of the squad to tell them that the time for excuses is over. Now we need action. And this goes for who, in our squad of 26 members, is 17 years old and for who is 38. In the end it’s the players who go on the pitch. From this moment they need to come to the training centre with only the thought of Fiorentina in their heads, and the will to give 100%.”

Before Prandelli came, there had been talk of Sarri and Spalletti “We’re at the beginning of Cesare’s road, and he needs to work without having any kind of hassle. There is no other manager. I ask all the Fiorentina fans to protect Prandelli. To be by his side. We as a club are with him 100% of the way.”

There’s also been talk of the possibility of buying a striker, such as Milik or Piatek in January “We have the right strikers. Full stop. I can’t wait to see them work with Cesare. Speaking of which, after having given experience to the young coach Aquilani with Iachini, we’ve now promoted another trainer from the youth sector, Donadel. As a club we try to value our people. These are just details but for us they are important.”

Speaking about the fact that there are no fans at the games still “All fans are important but the Viola public is something very special. They really are the twelfth man, they give us courage. They never abandon the team. Playing in front of empty stands is much more difficult, it’s very sad.”

Finally he spoke about whether the objective for this season is still to do better than last season “Of course. We are convinced that we have set up a squad that’s balanced in every department. And I repeat, with Cesare our attack will give the answers that we expect. Some accuse us, unfairly, of not investing. Have another look at the numbers from the last transfer window, or at how our wage bill has increased, from 49 to 70 million in 2 seasons. There are clubs such as Atalanta and Napoli who are doing really well but needed to wait, one 6 years and the other 4 years, to reach those heights. We have invested, and invested a lot. It’s just that the results still haven’t come. But the season has only just begun. There is still time to tell another story.”