The January transfer window is always an odd, liminal space. By the midway point of the season, most teams know what they are. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know which positions need strengthening. They know which players are surplus. And, with the battle to qualify for Europe or avoid relegation really starting to heat up, the pressure to improve adds layers of intrigue and difficulty to any potential player deals.
Serie A has been quite quiet this month, at least so far. The headlining transfer so far has been Guillermo Ochoa to Salernitana; the rest have been interesting but unproven young talents or solid but uninspiring veterans. While there is, as always, a flurry of transfer rumors swirling about the league, we’ve seen very little action so far.
That includes Fiorentina, who’ve yet to add a single player. The Viola have managed to move Youssef Maleh and Szymon Żurkowski off the roster, opening space to register Gaetano Castrovilli for Serie A. Pierluigi Gollini is likely hard on their heels out the door, while Marco Benassi could move as well. Even as the Nicolás González transfer story enters saga territory, it’s notable that all the activity is at the exit, rather than the entrance.
There are several explanations. The first is that, as we predicted last month, Fiorentina needs to shift players off the books before bringing anyone else in. The departures of Maleh and Żurkowski mean that additions can now happen, and it’s likely that Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone are working on those deals now. They probably wanted to make sure that they’d be able to register those deals with the league before finalizing them.
Second, Fiorentina’s transfer needs have shifted of late. While Barone’s recent statement that González and Sofyan Amrabat aren’t is encouraging, the injury to Arthur Cabral and the rumors that Luka Jović could be on the way out point to a new striker arriving in Florence. With such a rapid change of direction, it’s likely taking the brass some time to cook up new offers. And, if González or Amrabat do wind up forcing their way out, the club likely wants to funnel its resources to replacing them rather than strengthening elsewhere.
Third, Fiorentina may feel they aren’t really in position to buy anyone this month. The club isn’t going to be relegated, barring utter catastrophe, and probably isn’t going to push for Europe either; there are too many weaknesses in the squad to be fixed in a single January. In that case, it doesn’t really make sense to pay inflated fees (always the case in the winter transfer window) for players who, while talented, probably won’t have any long-term effect. If this is his thought process, Barone may opt to keep his powder dry and focus on summer acquisitions.
Fourth, this seems to be an iffy time to make a move. Like I mentioned earlier, nobody in Serie A has been too active on the market so far, outside of desperately flailing Sampdoria. In fact, the top 6 clubs in the table have signed a total of 2 players: AC Milan grabbed third-string goalkeeper Devis Vásquez and Napoli added Gianni di Lorenzo insurance in Bartosz Berezsyński. That’s the trend across the league: teams in the drop zones are scrambling to do something, anything, while those that are safe are standing pat. I’m not sure why that is, but sometimes it’s best to follow the herd.
Fifth, Pradè loves a move late in the transfer window. We’ve known it for years, and he’s mostly followed that template during his second stint in Florence. Over the past 3 winter mercati, he’s signed 13 first team players. 10 of those have come in the final 10 days of the window, and 7 on the final day. That group encompasses Sofyan Amrabat, Alfred Duncan, Igor, and Christian Kouamé, too, so it’s not like the approach doesn’t work. The fear, of course, is that we end up with another Aleksandr Kokorin or Kévin Malcuit, but most of Pradè’s last-minute deals are, at worst, inoffensive.
To sum up, Fiorentina’s lack of purchases in January isn’t too surprising. It was always going to be a complicated transfer window, and recent developments in the injury department and the inactivity across the league have repressed any potential moves even further, as well as Pradè’s well-established tendencies. I’m still fully expecting a couple of arrivals in the next fortnight, even if they’re not exactly what we’re expecting. There’s no need to make a deal just for the sake of it.