After three years of Vicenzo Montella at the helm, Fiorentina welcome in new Coach Paulo Sousa. Does it spell a new era or a return to dark days? George Rinaldi looks ahead to the Viola's future.
With Paulo Sousa the new man on the touchline, Fiorentina are preparing to enter a new dawn or a massive transitional slump. Vincenzo Montella has gone - three years forgotten almost instantly - with the Portuguese Coach now the centre of attention. The exit of L'Aeroplanino seemed for the best, with little to no communication between their former boss and the owners.
Now the man in charge, 44-year-old Sousa brings his attacking style of play to the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but also some defensive naivety, something that must be focused upon. The opening pre-season fixture proved this, a 4-2 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the International Champions Cup. It all began to slowly take shape however with a penalty shoot-out victory over Benfica before a stunning 2-1 win against European Champions Barcelona. Federico Bernardeschi was the key man in the latter, someone who looks to have a big say on Sousa's start to life in Serie A.
Bernardeschi's brilliance also drew the focus upon Mario Gomez, the spotlight once again hitting the German. His torrid time in Florence came to a disappointing end, but the correct decision to move him on to Besiktas means Sousa has the players in front of him who wish to work under his guidance. One of those is Borja Valero, a play who epitomises the Montella era, with the Spaniard taking to the new system and Coach like a fish to water.
Another Montella man Stefan Savic exited to Atletico Madrid, with Mario Suarez heading in the direction of Florence. It appears a clever buy, with Suarez able to rotate around the midfield, filling the void left by Alberto Aquilani who left for Sporting Clube de Portugal.
David Astori is the man to fill the Savic shaped hole at the back, having joined on loan from Cagliari following his 2014-15 season loan to Roma , and new defender Gilberto adds valuable depth to the squad. The confirmed departure of contract rebel Norberto Neto to Juventus in the early stages of the transfer window means Napoli loanee Luigi Sepe provides the back-up to Ciprian Tatarusanu, and a chance to rejuvenate his career.
Those who have joined up to be a part of the new project under Sousa will be aiming to gel early on, with the ICC results proving valuable in gaining a massive morale boost going into the opening match with Milan. It'll be a game for the Coach to lay out his new tactics and possibly gain the support of those in the Curva Fiesole. The Viola must be aware they are in a transitional period and to not aim too high due to those around them also improving their squads and rotating their Coaches. A good season is possible, but patience has to be Fiorentina's biggest signing of the summer.
After securing the 2014-15 Swiss Super League with Basel, it was time for the well-dressed Portuguese to try his luck at coaching in Italy. With a style of play Zdenek Zeman would be proud of, Fiorentina fans should expect a gluttony of goals to celebrate.
Arguably, Pepito is like a new signing to the Viola. After missing the entirety of the 2014-15 campaign, his 16 goals from 21 appearances the season before last showcased just what Rossi can do on his day, filling the 'void' Mario Gomez has left.
There's not been much movement in the transfer market for Fiorentina but the acquisition of Mario Suarez with Stefan Savic going in the opposite direction has been shrewd. Can play multiple positions and bring some much needed movement to the midfield.
This young man has been the go-to player this pre-season, scoring both goals to defeat Barcelona 2-1 in the International Champions Cup. After seven appearances last season and a solitary goal too, a speedy winger could be just what Antonio Conte ordered to add that flair to his side.
Tatarusanu; ASTORI, Rodriguez, Pasqual; Badeji, SUAREZ, Valero, Fernandez, Bernardeschi; Babacar, Rossi.
Although Sousa must hit the ground running, with rivals strengthening around them, a top seven finish should be seen as a step in the right direction.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.