As Fiorentina scramble to find a manager to replace the dearly departed Gennaro Gattuso, DS Daniele Pradè and company seem to have hitched their wagon to Spezia boss Vincenzo Italiano. The 43-year-old looks like a reasonably exciting tactician who could dredge this oddly-configured Viola squad for cohesion and results, but the talks to bring him aboard have slowed to a crawl in the past 48 hours.
At the heart of the matter is a buyout clause. The Aquilotti just extended Italiano’s contract with the club, reportedly inserting a buyout clause of €1 million that could nearly double. Fiorentina, despite making eyes at the former Hellas Verona midfielder, have repeatedly stated their desire to do right by Spezia, hoping to find a solution that appeals to all parties involved rather than simply pry the mister away.
It’s a slightly awkward situation for everyone. The Ligurians obviously want to keep the manager who led them to Serie A for the first time ever and astonishingly kept them up, leading a collection of misfits and castoffs to an amazing 15th placed finish. That success, of course, is why Fiorentina wants him as well. For Italiano’s part, a move to Tuscany could advance his career considerably: with respect, Fiorentina are a much bigger club than Spezia in both financial resources and national profile.
While some sections of the Viola fan base have expressed dismay that their team would so nakedly poach a guy who’s just signed a new deal, Corriere dello Sport reports that Spezia owner Robert Platek has given the okay to hunt for a new manager (Claudio Ranieri, Eugenio Corrini, Davide Nicola, and Marco Giampaolo top the list), meaning that Italiano is likely on the move. However, negotiations remain finely balanced and it doesn’t sound like anything has been finalized, so there’s plenty of room for things to fall apart.
While Italiano isn’t an established coach—he’s spent 2 years in Serie C, one in Serie B, and last year was his debut in the top flight—he’s shown a knack for putting players in a position to succeed. He favors a 4-3-3 that keeps the ball and prioritizes guys rotating all over the pitch, looking to play the ball forward quickly on the ground in a slightly Maurizio Sarri-esque fashion. He hasn’t shown as much verve for organizing a defense as he has an attack, but that could be more of a function of the players he’s had to work with at lower levels than anything else.
Whether or not you think he’s the solution in Florence, you can probably agree that it’s getting a bit late in the day to be sorting out next year’s coach; the transfer window opens in a week and a half, which means that Pradè, Nicolás Burdisso, and the scouting team need to start identifying and moving for the personnel to support Italiano (or whoever winds up on the touchline) right now, if not weeks ago. While Fiorentina’s delicacy in this affair is commendable, it’d be even nicer to get this sewn up quickly so that the club can fully focus on transfer business rather than staffing issues.