We look back at over the January mercato, and how Fiorentina performed during the window.
At the start of the January transfer window, Fiorentina were pushing for the Scudetto and certainly a top three finish. At the end of the window, La Viola have suffered an indifferent run of results in January, whilst their performance in the transfer window has been little short of disastrous.
In his pre-match press conference before they host Carpi, Paulo Sousa pleaded with the Fiorentina faithful not to express their displeasure at the acquistions during the game. Sousa himself identifies with the fans unhappy with the quality of the players signed, and his comments about the availability of Yohan Benalouane and Panagiotis Kone for the Carpi game, do not make pleasant reading for either player.
At the start of the window, Fiorentina fans were expecting the club to aim high in their pursuit of top-class signings who might make their dreams of a Scudetto come true. Unfortunately, it appears the Delle Valle family did not share those dreams, however idealistic they might have been.
The talk of La Viola signing the likes of Lisandro Lopez from Benfica and Emmanuel Mammana of River Plate soon disappeared, and the club were left scrabbling round for much-needed defensive reinforcements in the dying hours of the transfer window.
If, at the start of the window, Fiorentina fans had been asked which of Tino Costa, Mauro Zarate, Kone and Benolouane they would be happy to sign, the answer would undoubtedly have been none. Only Cristian Tello, of the January signings, provokes any excitement, yet one wonders exactly where the former Barcelona forward will fit into the team, particularly given Sousa’s preference for the 3-4-2-1 formation.
Other than Tello, one would find it hard to argue that any of the incoming acquisitions are better than those have departed. Fiorentina have let 4 players go in the window, with the likes of Giuseppe Rossi, Gilberto, Ante Rebic and Mario Suarez all departing either on loan, or on a permanent transfer in the case of Suarez. While the latter failed to shine during his 6 months in Florence, one cannot argue that Kone is a better midfield option than Watford’s new signing.
The best time to strengthen a team is when they are on the up, and for Fiorentina, the best time to do that was at the start of the transfer window. They sat in second place in the Scudetto race, and had the opportunity to sell the club to potential signings as being on the cusp of an exciting time and a Scudetto dream; a realistic dream in spite of the budget restrictions they face in comparison to their Scudetto challengers, Juventus, Napoli, Inter and Roma.
Much has been made of the fact that Fiorentina are overly reliant on Nikola Kalinic in attack, yet Fiorentina allowed Rossi to leave, replacing him with a player who could not even get in the West Ham United side, Mauro Zarate. Whilst one cannot be convinced that he would have joined them, Fiorentina should have challenged Inter and Leicester City for the signature of Eder, the spearhead of the Azzurri attack. Eder would have offered La Viola a more potent attacking threat than Zarate, possibly even replacing Kalinic as the Fiorentina front man, given the Croat’s indifferent form since the winter-break.
At the same time, Fiorentina could also have sent a message out to their Scudetto rivals, by looking to strengthen their squad by adding some of the star performers in the first half of the season. Whilst the likes of Francesco Acerbi of Sassuolo and Riccardo Saponara of Empoli might have cost significant amounts of money, they would have undoubtedly have strengthened La Viola’s squad and likely have gone straight into the starting line-up.
There is one thing that is clear, other than Tello, the players brought into La Viola’s squad are no better than those who are allowed to leave, and some would argue they are worse.
There is little doubt that frustration is growing in the City of the Medici at the perceived reluctance of the Delle Valle family to significantly invest in the strengthening of La Viola’s squad. In light of the January transfer window, and the somewhat predictable approach with which the team’s attacks occasionally take, there is no guarantee that Fiorentina are a banker to finish in the qualification places for Europe.
Mercato Grade: 3/10