By now, we've all heard about how many people were hiding a mind-boggling amount of money in Mossack Fonseca's unsavory account books. We've also heard that the scope of those implicated isn't limited to the political and financial worlds, but also extends into soccer. Gianni Infantino may be involved--time to knock that "Days without a bribery scandal" counter back down to zero, FIFA folks--and it sounds like Leo Messi's tax problems may be fixing to return with a vengeance. Noticeably absent, though, have been the Della Valles, and it's because they're just beginning to execute a scheme that will surely catapult Fiorentina back to the top of Serie A, for this season and beyond. Luckily, we've got a Viola Nation Exclusive™, and it. Will. Blow. Your. Mind.
(Disclaimer: This probably won't blow your mind and also IS NOT TRUE.)
The con begins simply enough. While chatting with Matteo Renzi, Diego Della Valle notices Silvio Berlusconi bumbling by and raises his voice, discussing how glad he is to have invested in a non-Mossack Fonseca account. Berlusconi's interest is piqued, the former PM shuffles over to ask which company that might be. DDV nonchalantly answers that it's a production company that Aurelio de Laurentiis uses as a front for his wealth, and offers to put Berlusconi in touch with them; the mark takes the bait, hook, line, and sinker.
Next up, ADV gets in touch with Erick Thohir about contracting for a new stadium. They get to talking, and what's supposed to be a lunch meeting stretches late into the evening. At around 7:00, Thohir mentions his stake in the Philadelphia 76ers, bemoaning the team's recent troubles. ADV begs to differ, suggesting that Sam Hinkie's only problem was he was working on too small a stage. Intrigued by the idea, Thohir decides on the spot to give Hinkie a chance with Inter Milan.
Berlusconi, meanwhile, phones Aurelio di Laurentiis, asking about a certain shadowy financial company. De Laurentiis predictably blows his top, yelling at Berlusconi that everything at Napoli is aboveboard. Not overly perturbed, Berlusconi hangs up, assuming ADL will get back to him with the details. ADL, meanwhile, decides to revenge himself by financing a Wolf of Wall Street-type film loosely based on a certain prime minister's proclivity for bunga-bunga parties.
As all this goes on, DDV has kept himself busy sending a series of vague and anonymous messages to James Palotta, warning about a purple mole in the team. Although he laughs it off at first, he can't help but notice Mohamed Salah seems to spend an awful lot of time around some very shady characters. When he realizes that Daniele Pradè has defected from AS Roma to Fiorentina, he begins to feel very anxious indeed.
Barbara Berlusconi, by now appraised of her father's actions, begins scrambling to repair the damage. She calls de Laurentiis to apologize, but he's already incensed with all things AC Milan, tosses his phone and rides away on a fan's scooter. He returns home to a fax from Andrea della Valle, who claims to have have concrete evidence of Andrea Agnelli's mismanagement of Juventus. Deciding on the spur of the moment to increase the scope of his new picture to include all of the excesses in Italian football, he takes ADV up on his offer. They agree to meet in person to exchange the evidence.
Palotta is so freaked out now he can't sleep. Players hear him muttering about rats in the facilities, and understandably lose interest in training. Luciano Spaletti is genuinely puzzled.
Thohir wakes up the next morning with a pounding headache, but it's not enough to dispel the idea that Sam Hinkie may be just the outside-the-box thinker that the Nerazzuri need. A few phone calls later, and Hinkie is on a plane to Milan. He's got some big ideas already, too: it's time to sell Icardi, Perisic, Kondogbia, Handanovic, and Juan Jesus, then sink the funds they bring into eight or nine really exciting prospects he learned about in Football Manager 2014. Still feeling that headache, Thohir agrees to the plan so long as Hinkie brings him a small handful of aspirin and a glass of water that's, like, a little cooler than room temperature but not, you know, painfully cold.
De Laurentiis, unable to keep himself from gloating, tells Berlusconi and Agnelli about his big new production. Their reactions are pretty different: the AC Milan man shrugs and goes back to eating his endangered rhinoceros steak, while Agnelli blusters, frets, and eventually caves in, offering to buy the Napoli owner's silence. De Laurentiis' response is just manic laughter for a solid twenty minutes.
By now completely paranoid, James Palotta dissolves the entire Roma board of directors, leaving them notes handwritten in what looks suspiciously like Nutella that nobody can be trusted. He sells Salah to Botswana Meat Commission FC just to be safe, and starts sending pictures of hippos and snakes to a very puzzled Daniele Pradè. The ownership group takes him to court to begin getting him away from the team, but the process stretches way out, leaving Roma in limbo.
Hinkie, meanwhile, has begun the Process. All of Inter's players who are worth more than a second-hand Renault are sold for pennies; the new DS tries to buy Alvaro Valero, whom he believes is a promising prospect, but Borja Valero just shakes his head and slowly closes the front door. Discouraged, Hinkie retreats to his office, where he lovingly rearranges the second round NBA draft picks he acquired for 2034. Thohir, appalled, decides that sports aren't for him and sells Inter; he eventually ends up entering the world of competitive dachshund breeding.
Finally driven over the brink by her father's, er, indiscretions, Barbara Berlusconi hands the team back to him, legal consequences be damned. At that precise moment, a crack team of financial investigators shows up, having been informed by anonymous tip that Silvio is getting involved with the team again, and drag him off to jail. Matteo Renzi makes damn sure that the conviction sticks. With both Berlusconis out of the picture, the team is reduced to ruins and ends up hiring Genarro Gatusso as coach, who eventually slaps the San Siro into the sun.
Agnelli, now well and truly worried about this new movie, decides to hire a professional to "take care of" de Laurentiis. Unfortunately, the cleaner he picks is actually a police informant. The sting operation is carried off without a hitch, and during the trial, it becomes apparent that the Juventus chairman was trying to pay for the transaction with €30 million and Marco Marchionni. The scandal finally sinks Juventus.
Aurelio de Laurentiis, meanwhile, has been working on his massive film about corruption at the highest levels of calcio. The scope of the project, unfortunately, causes him to collapse. The doctor orders him to stay away from all things football, and he lets Napoli fall into neglect.
And as he steps out of the doctor's office, from the corner of his eye, he sees Andrea Della Valle limping down the street. He squints, because ADV's limp seems to be miraculously healing itself as the Fiorentina man's stride lengthens, until he stops on the corner. A car pulls up, Pete Postlethwaite at the wheel, and Della Valle steps in and vanishes into the background.