MASSIVE SELL OFF FUELS TUMULTUOUS ROSTER REBUILD
Vincenzo Montella didn’t come into this season with the intention of selling off his best players, but a number of them forced his hand and signs pointed to a focused rebuild of the roster. Federico Chiesa really started the whole thing and Montella decided to turn it into an opportunity to improve the senior and youth squads.
Chiesa was the first domino, and things were heated as a number of bigger clubs came calling. Borussia Dortmund were in the hunt with a significantly lower bid (£38M) that they tried to sweeten with future sale profits, but if Chiesa was going to leave Fiorentina needed the money now. Liverpool and Manchester City (£41M) came in low while Manchester United (£65M), Arsenal (£60M), and Chelsea (£60M) weren’t interested in low-ball offers. Fiorentina accepted the Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea offers but Chiesa came to contract terms with Manchester United and filled the coffers.
Nikola Milenković refused to sign a new contract and joined Germán Pezzella in demanding a transfer, having lost out on Chiesa made Arsenal keen on adding Milenković and they paid £30M for the privilege. Pezzalla ended up taking the money in a move to China, and then the real sell off was on. Montella listed all of the extraneous players and managed to get a decent sum for all of them. Fiorentina would need every bit they could get as two of their starters (Milan Badelj and Dalbert) would have their loans end. A whopping (37) players returned on loan, and those not ready for the first team ended up on the transfer block. With all the sales Montella would be sitting on £110M in transfer funds, a paltry sum for one of the super rich teams but a King’s ransom for I Viola.
The first transfer flare up came when Montella agreed to a fee for CAM Pelayo Morilla only to have the transfer blocked by the Board of Directors because he wasn’t Italian. While this reportedly resulting in a shouting match it would lead to an Italian spending spree in order to get Morilla’s transfer approved. LB Luca Pellegrini, RW Riccardo Orsolini, CB Armando Izzo, CB Matteo Gabbia, and RW Federico Ricci were added to improve the squad and make the roster heavily Italian. Montella and General Manager Daniele Pradè stayed mostly in Italy and preyed on smaller teams to weaken their competition while strengthening themselves. Only three senior transfers (LW Martin Terrier, LW Tellas Magno, and CAM Evander) came from outside Italy, this made everyone very happy. Landing Magno, with a number of bigger suitors, could be the biggest move of the season. The situation at LW is such that he’s going to have the opportunity to play, but many think he could be better than Chiesa. Burning one of their non-EU signings on Magno may have been the best decision they made.
Magno could be a massive signing.
The biggest issue Fiorentina ran up against, and can’t fix for some time, is their standing in the eyes of players. With nearly £50M burning a hole in their wallet they couldn’t pay enough to get some players to join the club, specifically a young CB. Fiorentina agreed to a fee for Daniele Rugani (Benfica), Duje Caleta-Car (Marseille), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), and Jules Koundé (Sevilla) only to have all of them refuse to discuss a contract. All of them went for over £30M, and Koundé appeared to use the whole thing to get a new contract with Sevilla. Pradè was forced to go back to Torino and nab Izzo to join his former teammate Lyanco. It’s clear that Fiorentina need to improve their standing in the world if they plan on attracting players from bigger teams.
Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Federico Chiesa (RW, Manchester United) £65M
Nikola Milenković (CB, Arsenal) £30M
Germán Pezzella (CB, Shanghai SIPG) £20M
Riccardo Saponara (CAM, Alavés) £4.9M
David Hancko (LB, VfL Wolfsburg) £3.7M
Valentin Eysseric (CAM, FC Nantes) £3.5M
Maximiliano Olivera (RB, Brescia) £3.4M
Bryan Dabo (CM, Atalanta) £2.7M
Martín Cáceres (CB, Al-Arabi) £1.6M
Milan Badelj (CM, Lazio) Loan End
Dalbert (LB, Inter) Loan End
Rachid Ghezzal (RW, Leicester) Loan End
Senior Transfers (In)
Luca Pellegrini (LB, Juventus) £23M
Talles Magno (LW, Vasco da Gama) £17M
Riccardo Orsolini (RW, Bologna) £14.75M
Lyanco (CB, Torino) £13.5M
Armando Izzo (CB, Torino) £13.5M
Martin Terrier (LW, Olympique Lyon) £10.5M
Evander (CAM, FC Midtjylland) £7M
Matteo Gabbia (CB, Milan) £6.25M
Federico Ricci (RW, Sassuolo) £1.8M
Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Costantino Malerba (CF, Xanthi - Italy) £1.5M
Giuseppe Viola (LW, Inter - Italy) £1.5M
Franck Blanc (CM, Beerschot VA - Belgium) £825K
Zié Doukouré (LW, FC Nantes - France) £500K
Bruno Robbiati (RB, Inter - Italy) £550K
Ivan Castro (CM, Rio Ave - Portugal) £550K
João Mubenga (CB, Paços de Ferreira - Portugal) £400K
Hélder Lavado (CF, SC Braga - Portugal) £325K
Rui Silva (CF, Boavista - Portugal) £300K
Roberto Cannata (CB, Lastrigiana - Italy) £100K
Pradè and Montella didn’t just spend on senior players, the youth system is practically destitute and needs substantial investment. Without 10’s of millions to spend and restrictions on non-EU signings they focused on Italy and Portugal to find the kind of future talent they desperately need. System depth is still a bit of an issue and anyone still has a shot at being called up to the senior squad at the moment, in an ideal world all of these signings would need to make their way through the U-20 and U-18 squad first. It’s going to take more time and investment, in players and infrastructure, before Fiorentina can get there.
The most surprising signing was CB Roberto Cannata, he came highly recommended by scouts but blew the coaches away when he arrived in Florence. He has speed, size, passing skills, and the ability to lead from the back. If Montella can unlock his potential they may have signed a superstar, for I Viola and Italy, for a pittance. Giuseppe Viola might also turn out to be a great signing, and not just because of the name, his arrival from Inter sparked an argument in the organization over the pecking order between him and Abdou Fall. Viola was keen on the move from Inter based on potential senior squad opportunities, and if he develops quickly he could very well see the field in the next year or two.