This is a summer of uncertainty, anticipation and excitement in Florence. The Viola, clearly, have a more than passing interest in Milan’s European fate. But while that decision is dragging on longer than the declaration of a new Pope, a string of intriguing young players are being linked with a move to Tuscany.
Old timers will remember it was a route which led to Fiorentina’s last Scudetto nearly half a century ago. Back in 1969, a spritely team full of verve and vigour delivered a title. Nobody seriously thinks a repeat is on the cards, but there is a more positive vibe emanating from the club than there has been for a while.
Of course, sporting director Pantaleo Corvino is a wily old strategist on the transfer market and no stranger to digging out talent. It would be fair to say he has been hit-and-miss of late but, when he gets it right, it’s still pretty impressive. The sky-rocketing value of Nikola Milenkovic is the latest case in point.
Three names in particular have got pulses racing around Palazzo Vecchio these days and they could form the spine of a strong side for years to come. It is that sort of forward planning - after last year’s bonfire of the contracts - which has got people talking.
After a drab start to last season, the boys from the Artemio Franchi produced a strong second half which hinted that they might have more to offer this term. If they keep saying no to the overtures for their most prized possessions - and add these new talents - there is reason to be cheerful.
One player constantly linked with a move to join Stefano Pioli’s troops is Marko Pjaca - although often as a makeweight to prise away Federico Chiesa. The Croatian has had a tough time with injuries, but has made no secret of his desire to get more game time - a prospect which seems unlikely at Juventus for the time being. A move south, ideally to join the likes of Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone in the Florentine attack, is the kind of thing that gets fans excited.
Fellow countryman Mario Pasalic is another potential arrival who has had tongues wagging in the bars and cafes across the city. The departure of Milan Badelj has left a hole in the midfield that the Chelsea man looks perfect to fill. The fact that he already boasts some Serie A experience - Milan fans will remember - would do him no harm either. With a little more game time now under his belt, he would surely be even better equipped to make a big impression in Italy.
The last leg of the potential signing trio could be between the posts. Having decided against committing to Marco Sportiello, Fiorentina have found the price of Italian netminders getting higher and higher. Instead, they have taken a look elsewhere with Toulouse shot-stopper Alban Lafont the latest on their horizon. At just 19, it would be a major gamble by them to make him first choice, but he has shown himself to be a mature performer already. They have fond memories in the city, too, of French goalkeepers with Sebastien Frey still revered by many.
It all seems a long way from the doom and gloom of last year when everyone with any ability seemed to be quitting the club. Maybe, in the end, that was the end of an era and time for a new generation to take over.
There were some promising signs in the closing stages of the last campaign, any one of these three new names would bring a bit of extra buzz. And, who knows, they might even get to play the Europa League - if we get a final decision on that one before Christmas.
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