Corriere dello Sport released its annual report on player salaries yesterday (via ViolaNews), and we are, as ever, fascinated by what it reveals about Fiorentina and eager to read way, way too much into it. We’ll take a look at the league-wide numbers as well, once they’re released, and see how the Viola stack up. First, though, a few caveats.
The first is that players have short careers and they deserve to get paid for their labor, so I’m not too interested in hearing anyone criticize these guys for maximizing their earning potential during the decade or so that they can do this job. Yeah, it’s a huge salary and we’d all love it, but let’s remember that they’re only getting that salary because someone’s willing to pay it, and that someone has so much more money. If you want to go after somebody, maybe it’s the billionaires, not the millionaires. Welcome to the market economy.
Second, these numbers are the amount paid after tax. Most countries report athlete wages this way, but the US and the UK tend to report theirs before tax, so don’t be too shocked if these seem exponentially lower than every Premier League player’s. If you want to make that conversion, here’s a handy tool.
Third, not every wage has equal value to the team. Players that arrive on a Bosman, for example, tend to garner higher wages because the club hasn’t had to pay a transfer fee, which means they can offer some of that saved money directly to the player. I’ll also caution against combining salary and transfer fee into an overall cost to the club, since agent fees and other hidden costs are built into most of these contracts. To this point, it’s worth remembering that Fiorentina is paying some of Aleksandr Kokorin’s wage, even though he’s loaned Aris Limassol.
Anyways, here’s what we’ve got. I’ve listed the player, the salary, the date their contract was signed, and the date it expires.
Nikola Milenković—€3 million: 2022-2027
Luka Jović—€2.5 million: 2022-2024 (2 year option triggering €5 million salary)
Sofyan Amrabat—€1.8 million: 2020-2024
Gaetano Castrovilli—€1.8 million: 2019-2024
Nicolás González—€1.8 million: 2021-2026
Arthur Cabral—€1.7 million: 2022-2026
Jonathan Ikoné—€1.7 million: 2022-2026
Cristiano Biraghi—€1.5 million: 2020-2024
Giacomo Bonaventura—€1.5 million: 2020-2023
Dodô—€1.5 million: 2022-2027
Rolando Mandragora—€1.5 million: 2022-2026
Alfred Duncan—€1.3 million: 2020-2024
Christian Kouamé—€1.2 million: 2020-2024
Marco Benassi—€1.1 million: 2021-2024
Antonín Barák—€1 million: 2022-2023 (option to buy)
Lucas Martínez Quarta—€1 million: 2020-2025
Riccardo Saponara—€1 million: 2022-2023
Riccardo Sottil—€1 million: 2021-2026
Igor—€900,000: 2021-2024 (1-year club option)
Pierluigi Gollini—€900,000 (option to buy)
Lorenzo Venuti—€500,000: 2019-2024
Youssef Maleh—€500,000: 2021-2025
Szymon Żurkowski—€400,000: 2019-2024
Luca Ranieri—€300,000: 2018-2024
Pietro Terracciano—€300,000: 2021-2023
Aleksa Terzić—€300,000: 2019-2024
Michele Cerofolini—€200,000: 2017-2023
Alessandro Bianco—€100,000: 2022-2026 (1-year club option)
Total: €32 million
Some quick thoughts
There are definitely some screaming values here. Riccardo Sottil, Igor, and Pietro Terracciano (whoopsie) are the obvious ones to me, but there’s a lot of quality on relatively low wages here. After spending the past few seasons with some outrageously high wages—Franck Ribery, José Callejón, Kokorin—it seems pretty clear that the team’s plan is to redo its wage structure, capping it around Milenković’s €3 million a year.
Even so, this is a slight increase on last year’s total of €30.3 million. How’s that work? Well, dear reader, it’s pretty simple: last year, Fiorentina had 25 players on the roster. This year, that number sits at 28. While Daniele Pradè and company have done a good job of adding relatively cheap talent to the roster, they haven’t managed to remove some some redundancies and are thus paying a few million euros more than they’d like.
The obvious question here is when some of these guys are getting renewed. Sottil, as perhaps the key attacker thus far, is probably pushing for a raise. Ditto for Kouamé. Terracciano, as we know, believes (and with good reason) that he deserves a much higher salary as the starting goalkeeper. Igor’s probably due a bigger salary too.
While it may seem that, after a certain point, these salaries don’t really matter—what’s really the difference between €1 million and €1.5 million?—you’d better believe these guys all very aware of what everyone’s making. After all, when your job treats you as a commodity, you’re going to know your exact worth, and it’s going to impact your standing within the social hierarchy of the team to some extent. Getting a raise isn’t just financially motivated. It’s also a representation of a player’s worth, one that can have both tangible and intangible effects on quality of life, so these dudes want that bag.
My final thought was that, if the club has started prioritizing cheaper salaries, maybe there’s never been any real plan to pay Jović €5 million, which would be the highest salary the club’s ever paid. That would explode the wage structure and give players greater leverage in seeking raises (“if you can pay him that much, why not me?”).
Even if Luka had hit the ground running, I think it’s likely that this deal was always meant to be a 2-year rental that would, in turn, let him sign on a free for big money after rehabilitating his image. It’s a very creative deal, certainly, and the brain trust deserves a lot of credit for putting it together, but it also indicates a certain short-term focus that worries me a little bit, as a Jović boom would’ve stunted Cabral’s development, leaving him as a depreciated asset on the books for another couple of years. I feel like we’ve seen that happen enough times that the club should’ve learned its lesson, and that’s the real concern for me.