Been quite a weak for transfer rumors, huh? The press has linked so many fascinating names to Fiorentina. Guys who could conceivably jump right in and improve the starting lineup. Domenico Berardi. Maxime Lopez. Boulaye Dia. Morten Hjulmand. Mateo Retegui. Nicolò Zaniolo. M’Bala Nzola. Dozens of others. Before the transfer window has even officially opened (2 July in case you’re wondering), it’s easy to dream about any player winding up in Florence. Or at least that’s what we like to think.
Joe Barone, however, doesn’t care about your dreams. Fiorentina’s CEO held a press conference yesterday and addressed a few interesting tidbits. He confirmed that a contract extension for Gaetano Castrovilli is in the works, which likely means it’s nearing completion. He denied any official offers for Sofyan Amrabat. Most importantly, though, Barone said (and this is a direct quote), “We won’t buy even one of the names released in the market.”
While calcio executives aren’t always the most truthful breed of human beings in the world, I’m willing to believe Barone here. He’s been forthright about transfer stories in the past and, as far as I can recall, is usually pretty honest when facing direct queries. A flat statement like this makes me think that all those dreams for Berardi and the rest are exactly that: dreams. It also gives him a chance to stick it to the press, which is something this organization loves to do.
That’s just fine. We don’t need to be informed ahead of time about every move Fiorentina’s going to take in the player market. In fact, I’d prefer not to be; if the general public knows every deal that the club’s working on, that’s probably evidence of something fundamentally broken in the administrative hierarchy. Secrecy is useful here, as it prevents the embarrassment of, say, a mid-flight redirection to Fulham.
I’m still cynical enough to read between the lines here, though. Barone denied the rumors about arrivals but didn’t say anything about departures. Amrabat is obviously on the way out, but the one that really interests me is Luka Jović. We’ve heard that Galatasaray is interested in bringing him to Istanbul, although the striker’s bizarre registration status—on loan from Real Madrid but with a free transfer arranged for next summer—means this one could drag on for a little while yet.
Zooming out, though, Barone’s bucket of cold water on all that turgid transfer talk makes me pretty happy. As I’ve gotten older, the economy that’s sprung up around transfer rumors is less and less important to me. As far as I can tell, 50% of them are pure fiction, 40% are the result of a DS asking an agent on WhatsApp, “Any news on Player X?” and the remaining 10% might, might, might be true if you consider “true” to mean “there’ve been concrete discussions from at least 2 parties involved.”
I find the entire thing tiresome and boring. It’s given rise to the most irritating social media personae imaginable and turned reporters into subjects of fan adulation, which is weird and gross. Every transfer story has the most rote, stereotypical banter underneath it: “Come to Juve,” or “Farmers league,” or “penalty merchant,” or something equally asinine. It’s why I hang out here instead of in the comments section under Fabrizio Romano’s account or something.
I’m also generally a lot more interested in watching the games themselves than in a lot of the team-building speculation, mostly because I think it’s something fans do to give themselves an illusion of control over something they inherently have no control over: “If my team buys Players X, Y, and Z for Amount A and sells players U, V, and W for Amount B, we’ll win the league.”
Doing deals is extremely hard because clubs (and individuals within those clubs) value players very differently due to context or just because they think about the game differently. Everyone who’s risen to the level of running a club’s recruitment policy is extremely Type A and thinks they can get one over on their counterparts, making it nearly impossible to find discounts. It’s a tough job that requires keeping dozens of balls spinning through the air at all times, and the minutiae just aren’t all that interesting to me.