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VN staff look back at the mercato

Hey, wow, I guess this makes us a panel of experts now, right?

Bologna FC v Carpi FC - Serie A
If only we could be this smug.
Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

The inked signatures are dry, the fax machines are cold, and the dust has settled on another January transfer window. Now that we’ve all had a little bit of time to ruminate on the various moves and non-moves, your friendly neighborhood Viola Nation staff has formed some objectively correct opinions on the craziness.

What was the best move Fiorentina made in this transfer window? What was the worst?

Nolan: The best move Fiorentina made was Riccardo Saponara - while attacking midfielder was far from a position of weakness, this was a fantastic deal for a quality player, at a minimum an upgrade on Zarate, though not a particularly prolific goal scorer. The worst was yet again ignoring the defense.

Huw: I know there’s transfers in and out, but the window is dominated by the Kalinic story. Whether he was really ever going to go or not, keeping hold of him has the potential to be either the best or the worst move. The best if he stays and scores important goals, the worst if he loses his form and Fiorentina are left with a €40 million hole in the bank account. It’s too early to tell at this point but it’s the question which defines the transfer window.

That money could have been used to address key issues in the squad. Without it, then Saponara and Marco Sportiello look like decent buys, but not quite on the level which will really make a difference come the end of the season. It’s going to be six months before we know whether Kalinic staying was good, bad, or somewhere in between. For all the talk of good and bad moves, it’s the ghost that haunts Fiorentina’s transfer window, for better or for worse.

Alex: Saponara. If he can recapture his best form with Empoli it could potentially be a bargain. With both the ability to provide and score I can wait to see him in action. The worst move was that there is still no recognisable right back at the club.

Jack: Neck and neck between Sportiello and Saponara, but the former edges it for me. Having had to settle for the bench this year in favour of Etrit Berisha, Fiorentina nabbing a young standout keeper of the 2015/16 season is a fantastic bit of work by Corvino.

Trayers: Best - It has to be Saponara. A marked improvement on Ilicic, he'll fit nicely into Sousa's preferred 3-4-2-1 next to Berna, as well as having the versatility to play out wide or deeper in midfield if he's needed.

Worst -La viola neglected to make one of their trademark pointless loan signings this January, so there haven't been any 'bad' signings in my opinion. I suppose the worst is bringing in Illanes to further oversaturate the Primavera defence.

Tito: Sportiello and Saponara are the easy answers, as they’ll be long-term improvements on and successors to Ciprian Tatarusanu and Josip Ilicic, respectively. But since everyone else has those two listed, I’ll go a bit off-script and say that the Federico Chiesa renewal is most exciting to me. For the worst move, shipping off 2 rightbacks and a striker was a headscratcher. The former position now has nobody and the latter has just 2 players; with the Europa League looming, depth sure would have been nice.

Which part of the squad now looks strongest? Which part is weakest?

Nolan: The attacking midfield position started off this year with a surplus of talent; the addition of Saponara and the emergence of Chiesa makes it even more exciting. The Sportiello and Tatarusanu keeper battle should also be good for both of them.

On the other hand, the defense is a mess. Gonzalo Rodriguez hasn't had a particularly great season, but his injury (and management induced dissatisfaction) is still a massive loss. Carlos Sanchez has been a revelation in the defense and Davide Astori has been good but the rest is a mess - Carlos Salcedo seems to have fallen out of favor completely, Sebastien De Maio and Maxi Olivera are average, and the other options, especially at fullback, are a mess. Tomovic is Tomovic.

Huw: The squad is so top heavy. Especially if there’s any injury to the first-choice centre backs, it’s remarkable that nothing was done to reinforce the defence. I guess shifting Sanchez back is testament to the idea that necessity is the mother of invention. It’s worked well so far but it’s an obvious issue lingering on the horizon. And that’s without even mentioning the full back/wing back situation.

Still, the attack looks alright. Saponara could have the potential to be a long term Borja stand in.

Alex: The midfield looks incredibly strong with the likes of: Valero, Badelj, Vecino and now Saponara. Also possible three of Chiesa Saponara Bernardeschi behind Kalinic is mouth watering.

Jack: It's hard to look past midfield as out strongest facet, Saponara's addition is fantastic and gives ample depth going into a tough run for the european places. As always, without Gonzalo and Astori the back line look as stable as a house of cards.

Trayers: Strongest - Attacking midfield. As frustrating as he is, any time Josip Ilicic is your third best option at AM you're doing something right.

Weakest - central defence. Astori has been the only consistent performer in the backline all season. With Gonzalo out for the next two months it's going to take a big step up from Salcedo for any hopes of competing for European football to stay alive.

Tito: Goalkeeper looks as good as anyone right now, as Sportiello may be the most talented backup in Italy (although I won’t be shocked if he takes over from Tata sooner rather than later). The attacking midfield spots also look stacked: Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa, Riccardo Saponara, Josip Ilicic, and Cristian Tello are all talented and versatile, and guys like Josh Perez and Ianis Hagi are very promising. For the weakest, the entire backline is obviously a concern, but I’m worried about the strikers, too. With just Nikola Kalinic and Khouma Babacar up top, we’re an injury away from seeing promising-but-raw Primavera star Jan Mlakar up top, if not Ilicic.

Relative to the rest of Serie A, did Fiorentina get stronger or weaker?

Nolan: I think we stayed about the same to be honest - which is better than we were to start the season but not consistently competitive. This wasn't a particularly dramatic transfer window; some wild card moves like former Fiorentina target Lucas Ocampos to Milan should be interesting, but do little to change our position.

Huw: Stronger, but not by much. Inter and Juve have done the best business, I think. Remarkably for Inter, their transfers actually seem quite sensible. I was massively suspicious of this and then they got in some random Aussie bloke from the Chinese league and things seemed right in the world again.

But I don’t really think Fiorentina are competing in that kind of bracket. The immediate opposition – Torino, Lazio, Atalanta – did well to hang on to their key players. I don’t think anyone signed a player who is likely to set the league on fire, but Fiorentina did well to build without really losing anyone. Zarate would be the exception, but Sousa never actually played him.

Alex: The additions of Saponara and Sportiello have provided depth and quality. I’d say Fiorentina have stepped up a level towards the top 7.

Jack: Time will tell, the 2 two teams flanking Fiorentina as of this moment, Atalanta and AC Milan, have had contrasting windows. Atalanta are suffering the first warning shots of the impending mass exodus in losing Gagliardini to Inter, and Milan bringing in Deulofeu and Ocampos signals their intentions, but Fiorentina's quiet but effective window stands up against the two.

Trayers: Stronger. The teams around us stayed relatively quiet, with only the Milanese clubs making additions that improve their quality.

Tito: Fiorentina added 2 guys who’ll start once they’re healthy and integrated and lost one (very effective) reserve, while also adding some pretty good youth prospects. Of the other clubs, I think that Atalanta and Juventus (damn their eyes) probably did the best, while Genoa, AC Milan, Pescara, and AS Roma did well to add useful pieces or keep vital cogs. I’d probably put the Viola’s winter market at 3rd best in the league, behind both Nerazzuri sides.

What move do you really wish had happened?

Nolan: It's a shame the Caceres move didn't work out - it's for the best they aren't taking the risk on another injury addled player, but giving him a shot would have been nice, especially as our defense is still up in the air for next season.

Huw: Jovetic. I mean, come on. It’s such an obvious move. He’s already scoring in Spain. But if I had to pick a sensible option? Literally Any Competent Full Back. For any price.

Alex: Any right back, literally anyone. It seems that Fiorentina and right backs just don’t mix.

Jack: Is a right back too much to ask?

Trayers: Tonelli would've been nice, or Oikonomou, someone who could play cb and isn't Nenad Tomovic basically.

Tito: I really thought that Francesco Zampano might make the switch from Pescara, which would have been a good and relatively cheap solution at rightback. I also wish that Martin Caceres wasn’t constructed entirely of peanut brittle and chewing gum, because he’d have been a perfect solution at rightback as well.

What grade do you give Corvino for this window?

Nolan: I give him a B. The Saponara and Sportiello moves were smart, but do little by themselves to change the dynamic of this team. Not making any panic moves was probably the right thing to do, but the results are not particularly exciting.

Huw: He’s managed his resources well enough. We never know how much cash he has to spend, but I think the keeper situation is looking brighter. The midfield has been bolstered, too. I’d like to have seen what he’d do with a €40 million budget but I don’t think there’s enough space in the squad for sixty Croatian teenagers.

I’d say a C+.

Alex: B-. I didn’t expect much from this window but I’d say Corvino has done well. If he fixed the right back problem it would have been an A.

Jack: Corvino has done well in my honest opinion, and I'd score him a solid 8/10. In terms of January windows gone by, Fiorentina have managed to secure some quite purposeful moves which will serve them well going forward. January is notoriously challenging for clubs looking to bring in a long term solution, and despite Corvino failing to address some issues, bringing in Saponara and Sportiello is mightily impressive.

Trayers: Saponara and Sportiello are good additions at a relatively low cost, and Castrovilli could develop into a very useful player. That is, however, offset by the failure to add depth at cb which could ultimately be what costs us Europa League football next season. Overall, three crows out of five.

Tito: The winter mercato is notoriously tricky to find talent in, but the Corvine One picked up a pair of immediate-impact starters for cheap and held onto Nikola Kalinic, which (despite how much we wish Corvino’d gotten that heap of cash to work with next summer) is a very good thing. Combined with the Primavera additions, I’d say it’s an A-, but not replacing Mauro Zarate bumps it down to a B for me.