What with Fiorentina selling ALL TEH PLAYRZ, it stands to reason that the club will need reinforcements sooner rather than later. Of the 27 names on the senior roster, about 10 belong to players who will either be sold, loaned out, or sent down to the Primavera this year, leaving quite a few slots for new arrivals. The question, though, isn’t whether said arrivals will, well, arrive. Rather, it’s about the quality of said arrivals, and specifically, whether or not they’ll have any quality.
A quick couple of notes about these numbers. The expenditures per year reflect the year the payment was made rather than the year the player arrived. Therefore, players who spent a year in Florence on loan prior to a permanent move—Juan Cuadrado, for example—may seem out of order. Also, the Della Valles only had the club for the latter portion of the 2004/2005 season, so some of the acquisitions there aren’t entirely theirs. Now, let’s do the exciting stuff and look at some numbers!
Okay, first of all, that wasn’t all that exciting. Sorry. However, there are some clearly visible patterns here. The first is that the DVs shelled out a lot of cash shortly after buying the team to make the squad competitive enough to handle Serie A, which meant absorbing a substantial loss for four of the first five years they owned the Viola. However, they’ve mostly reined in their spending since, turning a net profit of €17.01 million since 2009. As our eagle-eyed readers may notice, this was the last time Fiorentina qualified for the Champions League.
While this isn’t just a function of spending (it coincided with a weird era in which AC Milan and Inter Milan sort of tanked, allowing Fiorentina to overachieve), there’s definitely a strong correlation. It also makes the Vincenzo Montella years even more impressive, considering that he managed three straight 4th-place finishes even though the owners sold more than they bought for two of them.
However, the DVs tend to buy heavily in the first year of a new manager, then hold off afterwards; again, Montella’s tenure, and more specifically his comments about the lack of investment towards the end of it, ring true here. The fact that they broke this pattern with Paulo Sousa, though, paints a bleak future for Stefano Pioli. It could be that, having restored the team to functionality, the owners are perfectly happy to sit back and make money from the club’s endeavors, rather than reinvest to remain competitive with the top of the league. On the other hand, the foundation of Fiorentina Women’s and the ongoing interest in the Mercafir stadium indicate at least some level of engagement from Diego and Andrea, so at least there’s that.
So what of the future, then, can we predict? Well, let’s have a look at the window so far. Fiorentina have spent €29 million already so far on 8 players, with the €8 million for Vitor Hugo being far and away the most. The others average about €3 million per, which is, relatively speaking, peanuts. This scattershot approach is a fairly low-risk, high-reward style of investing; if you buy enough young talent, some of it will work out. However, it’s tough to adequately develop so many youngsters; just ask Chelsea how that’s been going. Moreover, for a club of Fiorentina’s resources, there’s going to be a lag—call it 2 to 4 years—between the original investment and reaping its rewards, and the interim can get awfully unpleasant.
Despite what feels like a fire sale, Fiorentina have only earned €11 million in fees thus far: €5.5 each for Borja Valero and Josip Iličić. But let’s extrapolate a bit, shall we? Federico Bernardeschi is likely to leave for a fee around €40 million, according to most of the reports we’ve seen. Let’s add the €24 million for Matías Vecino that may be coming in the next couple of days. Throw in €30 mil for Nikola Kalinić, €9 mil for Milan Badelj (although now that he’s fired his agent, maybe he’s not leaving?), €3 mil for Ciprian Tătăruşanu, €1 mil each for Matías Fernández and Ante Rebić, and that figure rises from €11 million to €115 million.
Let’s look back at the chart now. The DVs haven’t been as willing to take a loss on their Viola investments of late, but they’re still willing to roll the dice occasionally. They also seem to pump some cash into the squad every 2-3 years without worrying as much about a return on their expenditures, which means we should be about due for a big window. Given the type of investments we’ve seen thus far from Corvino, that probably means a host of promising but unproven young players moving in and then being loaned around for a couple of years.
But how much? That’s the real question here. Especially as they work towards the new stadium, the Diego and Andrea will want to save up some money. Even in a year in which they decide to inject some lucre towards the Gigliati, that means they’ll probably try to keep between €10 million and €20 million in the green. Going of of our previous calculations, that means we could see Fiorentina spend around €90 million this season, or €79 million more. Due to squad size limitations and limited playing time due to lack of European competition, that means it makes more sense to either buy teenagers who Pioli can blood in Serie A for a year or two, or throw some larger amounts around.
Or at least that’s as near as we can figure from looking at past results, which we hear don’t necessarily predict future returns.