Every couple of weeks, the Viola Nation writers get together to hash out the answers to the most important Fiorentina questions. Here’s what we talked about this week.
What grade do you give Daniele Pradè, Joe Barone, Nicolás Burdisso, and the rest of the Viola brass for the mercato this year?
NickyNutella: This mercato was a B+ for me. Overall I am very satisfied and this is the most excited I’ve been for a Fiorentina season since maybe 2014-15. Nico González is everything we thought he would be and more. Couple that with the arrival of Lucas Torreira and Álvaro Odriozola and we are looking dangerous. However, the most important move(s) made this transfer window was keeping our two Serbs; Nikola Milenković and Dušan Vlahović. Those two are crucial pieces to our European push and them choosing to stay means they believe in the project Rocco and co. are trying to build. We may not be able to keep them forever but it’s a promising sign that we’re trending in the right direction. The only real knock on the transfer window for me was the lack of depth brought in at forward. Vlaho will need a backup and we definitely could’ve used another winger. Berardi would’ve been the perfect addition to the squad. European Champion, Calabrese (like Rocco), dynamic, and a Serie A veteran. It seems Sassuolo wanted more than we were willing to budge but scared money don’t make money. He would’ve been worth the extra €10M we weren’t willing to part with, so it’s disappointing we couldn’t pull it off. Seeing the fact Ciccio Caputo went for so cheap also hurts cause he could’ve been a great addition even at his age. Overall this was a great mercato but it always seems like we are a step or two behind where we want to be. At this point it’s up to Italiano and the players to push for the European places.
Ben: I’ll use numbers here and give it a strong 7 out of 10. Torreira and González are both 10/10 signings, and keeping Milenkovic was as good as a great new signing. Odriozola also makes sense as a low-risk, high-reward loan deal. While keeping Vlahović is emotionally pleasing, I’m not going to celebrate that until he signs an extension, as that €60 million from Atletico Madrid was a fair price.
What knocks this window down for me was firstly the lack of a winger. We desperately need depth there, and not bringing anyone is going to cost us points. I’m glad Pradè didn’t panic buy, but this is a signing that should have been sorted before Moena, and there was plenty of time to properly plan out a new acquisition. Now, if any of our González, Sottil, or Callejon have to miss a match, Riccardo Saponara is the only option from the bench. That’s a huge failure, and will hurt Italiano’s ability to execute his vision. For a club that wants to get back into Europe, more ambition on the right flank would be nice to see. Still, we upgraded at a couple of key spots and brought in a massive upgrade at manager, so I’m happy. I’ll lower my pitchforks against Pradè and Barone for the time being. Sign another winger in January!
Tito: Striking out on Mimmo Berardi, Riccardo Orsolini, and Junior Messias over the last couple days leaves a slightly sour taste. I’m all the way with Ben that winger depth is a problem: González does have an injury history and Callejón’s old as the hills of Fiesole. The lack of a reasonable backup to Vlahović (no, Kokorin is not a reasonable backup to anything) is also a worry, so hopefully Pradè’s absence from Florence the past couple of days means he’s looking at free agents.
Even with those shortcomings, though, this has been the best summer mercato since 2012. González looks like a star, Torreira should be a perfect (and astonishingly affordable) fit, Odriozola’s a solid short-term solution, and Mattia Nastasić is a sneaky-good replacement for Germán Pezzella. Combine those deals with hanging onto Vlahović and Milenković and you’ve got a rock solid B. But bringing in Italiano to replace Giuseppe Iachini—and, I suppose, Gennaro Gattuso and company—moves this to a B+ in my book.
Mike: Fiorentina finds itself for the first time under the Rocco Commisso era coming out of the transfer window with a seemingly unanimous approval of the transfer window, all while breaking even (technically we made a 500,00 euros profit). A huge credit must be given to those men in the arena who executed - Burdisso, Prade, Fiorentina’s now “It Man” Barone and patron Rocco Commisso.
Finding Nico Gonzalez and building a quick relationship with him that saw him choose Fiorentina over other European clubs who offered more money is reason enough to get excited. He is Fiorentina’s best and most exciting transfer in a very long time and he has already endeared himself to Fiorentina with a flare that can only be done while wearing purple. The next best thing was finally bringing in a quality midfielder in Lucas Torreira. I have been begging for this for at least 3 windows. This should open up the game that Fiorentina dreams of playing this year. Odriozola and Nastasic are solid players, the latter being brought in with a very fair cost.
Fiorentina’s best move however was removing the thorn that Gattuso proved to be and replaced him with the enigma who is now capturing everyone’s interest on the Italian boot, Vincenzo Italiano. It must have been hard for Rocco once he saw Gattuso’s true colors, but he wasted no time and little thought in removing him. His replacement is a much better fit for Fiorentina, no questions asked.
Where Fiorentina’s grade suffers is in not seizing on both the momentum it has created in keeping Dusan and resigning Milenkovic as well as the excitement the fans have being back supporting their team in the stadium. Had Fiorentina invested in two areas, a RW and a vice Dusan, this team would be in serious top 7 contention. An investment in fan favorite Domenico Berardi would have been costly, but with him I did predict a top 7 finish with a strong push for top 4 in the table. This would have cemented the fans love affair for Rocco once again. A lack of a vice Dusan is much more indicative that there is no one on God’s green earth who would take Kokorin than desire. Unfortunately Paramount Pictures isn’t convinced by a soccer reboot of their twice made “The Longest Yard”. It is hard to believe there is a prison system out there that could beat a front line of Ronaldo and Kokorin.
Final grade is a 7. 6 for players and a full point because of Italiano. Had we invested in Berardi this would have been a 9! There is still January, and we now need to focus our efforts on renewing Dusan.
Trevor: Finally a transfer window under Rocco Commisso which most people agree has been more than satisfactory. I have been critical in the past, especially of the work done by Daniele Pradè and Joe Barone, but this time I haven’t got too many complaints. Keeping both Vlahović and Milenković at the club, especially when the latter seemed destined for a move to England, was already a major plus for me.
After the Gattuso debacle, finding a manager like Italiano must also be commended. After just two games, I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy watching our team play this season, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to say that. For me, that is all I can ask from this season, having suffered watching how we played under our most recent managers, I just want to watch a Fiorentina team which plays the game in a positive way.
Already González looks like the real deal, and he can only get better as he settles into the squad and Italian football. We’ve been looking to bring in Torreira for quite a while, so finally that saga is over, and if he can regain the form he showed at Sampdoria, he’s going to be a good addition to the side. As for Odriozola, I will be more than happy if he doesn’t turn out to be another Javier Portillo. I’m never a fan of bringing back former players, so I’m not too excited by the return of Nastasić, but at least he should provide some cover for the back-line.
Which brings me to my main issue with this mercato session, which is the failure to bring in enough players to provide the new manager with the backup he will need. I actually think we have an impressive starting eleven, and unlike many I’ve been impressed with how Erick Pulgar has started this season. The problem for me is our bench, there is very little cover here, and injuries and suspensions, or just players losing form or needing a rest, could leave Italiano with a major headache. I really don’t see how they could offload Christian Kouamé and not bring in a replacement, and it’s hard to believe that Kokorin is a serious alternative to Dušan. When I see players such as Saponara and Benassi, who seem to have spent their entire Fiorentina careers out on loan, as the only options the manager has during the game, then I think we may run into some serious problems.
But, I am still optimistic, and willing to give the Fiorentina bosses some credit, and so I’ll be generous and give them a 7 out of 10.