As Fiorentina’s one-way door remains open, so does the purging of talent from a side which were so nearly on the brink. Fiorentina’s transfer strategy has been nothing short of disastrous for fans, and the mass exodus has driven morale to a crushing low. But why has this high turnover had such an effect on fans, and why has it happened in the first place?
The current number of first team players who have left Fiorentina this summer lies at seven, and it is expected to rise with the likely departures of first choice striker Nikola Kalinic and long-time want-away Milan Badelj. The number of departures is not as worrying as the level of players that have been lost, and they will inevitably struggle to replace.
Paulo Sousa’s tenure was many things, but during his stint there remained a very solid, exciting core of players. Be it Federico Bernardeschi’s star promise or Matias Vecino’s dependability, there was a quality of player which gave fans hope of a Champions League push. Both have since left for Juventus and Inter respectively, and such moves begin to question the level of club Fiorentina want to be going forward.
This inability to keep hold of their most important players and provide them with a club-wide ambition is damning for the club’s management. Fiorentina have undeniably failed to sell any kind of hopeful vision to their stars, and with the lure of riches and well thought-out progress elsewhere, they have understandably jumped ship.
However, there lies a deeper, darker twist to the summer. The losses of both Borja Valero and Gonzalo Rodriguez indicate colossal negligence by the Fiorentina board. Borja Valero, a man who has only recently had the co-ordinates of Florence tattooed on his arm, was a man utterly infatuated with ‘his’ city. Such was his treatment by the board, he was forced out for little over €6m in what was a cold, calculated business decision.
For a club already struggling to hang on to its near non-existent relationship with fans, this was PR suicide. Florence loved Borja Valero, he was a classy operator with impeccable ball control, and the loyalty he had shown to the city was rare and special. His messy divorce from Fiorentina, in which he claimed he had been forced out, stuck like a knife through a fan base's heart.
The mass exodus nonetheless has pocketed the club a pretty penny, and fans are now uncontrollably anxious to see how the club reinvests. Jordan Veretout’s move from Aston Villa for around the €8m mark indicates a certain level of competence from the board, however there is a lot of work to be done, and should Fiorentina want to prevent any potential revolt from fans, they’d be wise to embrace a level of sentimentality going forward, and to rethink their strategy.
Football to fans is more than spreadsheets, and the sooner La Viola’s management embraces this notion, the sooner it will unite a club and a city.