Last night with Emmanuel Mammana on the verge of flying out to Florence, the deal between Fiorentina and River Plate. Botched transfers and accusations of unprofessionalism from other clubs and players remain far too common in the Della Valle era.
If it seemed too good to be true, it probably is because it was. Emanuel Mammana, the 19 year old River Plate center back widely considered one of the most promising prospects in Argentina and the alleged number one choice of Fiorentina, was on the verge of completing a move to Fiorentina when the deal collapsed.
According to River President Rodolfo D'Onofrio, both parties were ready to finalize the deal when Fiorentina decided to change their offer at the last minute, leading River to walk away from negotiations. While D'Onofrio certainly has his own agenda, previous reports from Argentine tabloid Ole stated that Mammana was planning to fly out to Florence on Saturday, supported by the leaked squad list for this weekend's Superclásico which showed no Mammana. According to Alfredo Pedullà, Fiorentina was unwilling to make up the 2 million difference between the two clubs, which seems to always be the common theme in these collapses.
While Fiorentina has the right to play cautious with spending so much for an unproven defender, to sabotgue the deal over one or two million Euros seems short sighted, especially on your first choice player. River blames this all on Fiorentina, but realistically they probably were dragging their feet, and why wouldn't they? River was interested in negotiating, but it would benefit them to wait until June before losing their man, at least until they finished their own negotiations for Colón de Santa Fe's Germán Conti, another defensive prospect they identified as a replacement.
Unlike River, Fiorentina were in a race agaist time to finish the deal before the transfer window closes, and by waiting until the last few days to get anything done, increased their odds of exactly this. After giving up on Lisandro López, it appeared all focus was on Mammana, yet they immediately capped themselves by attempting to play hardball in under a week. Alternatives were mentioned but the only one they seemed commited to was Barcelona backup Marc Bartra, a player that Luis Enrique insists is unsellable and who would likely be even more expensive due to the inflation that comes from playing for Barca.
It seems Fiorentina will settle on Sebastian De Maio, a 28 year old veteran of Serie A and Ligue 1 current at Genoa. De Maio is an average defender, competent but with little skill, but would certianly be more within the budget of what Fiorentina is actually trying to spend. Meanwhile they are making one last attempt to salvage the Mammana deal, however reports are the relationship has soured not only with River but also with Mammana and his entourage, who accuse Fiorentina of dishonesty.
This would not be the first time a botched Fiorentina transfer has lead to bad blood between the club and players and their agents - the last minute collapse for Sergej Milinković-Savić appears to not have caused any lasting damage, especially as replacement Milan Badelj has so far had a more impressive Serie A career, however the Mohamed Salah fiasco, while not the clubs fault according to most, was nevertheless the product of poor negotiation and to this day Fiorentina have damaged their relationship with both the player's camp and with Chelsea, destroying what was a valuable relationship for a club with limited means. Likewise, the biggest loss here may be distrust on the part of River Plate, a club with possibly the best youth academy in Argentina.
Since the Della Valle era has begun, Fiorentina has had a remarkable track record of players they almost signed who would go on to do great things in Serie A. Since the depature of Pantaleo Corvino, many of these botched moves have not only collapsed but imploded in public. Meanwhile, the last minute replacements, especially in January, rarely end up creating much of an impact. As fans, there comes a time where we can't keep blaming the other teams on consistently botched negotiations. This club needs to reflect on what is going wrong, unless of course ownership isn't really interested in going after top tier talent.