While the goings-on at the likes of Juventus, Milan, Inter and Roma have for varying reasons been dominating the calcio column inches of late, Fiorentina have been quietly going about their preparations for the new campaign. Devoid of stories of shock coaching resignations, high profile transfer activity or worrying pre-season form, the Artemio Franchi has not been the number one port of call for any headline hunting journalist seeking a summer scoop.
The limelight could, however, shift to Tuscany very soon. Last Friday, Viola owner Andrea Della Valle confirmed the fears and suspicions of anyone with sympathy for the Florence side by admitting prized asset Juan Cuadrado will be sold should a mega money offer be made for him. “If an important offer were to come through we would have to let him go,” the businessman announced at a Press conference. “Next week will be crucial and decisive. We have given ourselves a maximum of 10 days to decide.”
With Barcelona and Manchester United the two clubs said to be at the front of the queue for his signature, it appears highly likely that the Colombian has played his last competitive game for Fiorentina. Though Della Valle stressed he has far from given up hope of keeping the winger for another year, the smart money would be on Cuadrado soon following in the footsteps of the likes of Stevan Jovetic, Adem Ljajic and Matija Nastasic as yet another Viola star performer to head elsewhere. Should this happen, it would be a familiar tale for tifosi desperate to see their team secure a return to the Champions League.
Yet, if there is a club to have consistently proven that it can cope with the annual loss of key players, as well as replace them effectively, it is Fiorentina. When Nastasic and Valon Behrami were sold to Manchester City and Napoli respectively in the summer of 2012, the money was cannily reinvested to bring in first Borja Valero, then Giuseppe Rossi a few months later from Villarreal. Cuadrado himself also arrived on the cheap as the Viola took out a co-ownership of the player. The trio have since gone on to become cornerstones of Vincenzo Montella’s project.
Or how about last summer? With top-scorer Jovetic departing as well as key playmaker Ljajic after the Viola had improved from 13th to fourth in their first season under Montella, goals were looking like they could be in shorter supply at the Artemio Franchi. However, the club then pulled off what was widely regarded as a fine piece of business by signing Mario Gomez from Bayern Munich. As it turned out, the German’s season was badly curtailed by knee ligament problems, but the likes of Rossi, Cuadrado and Valero upped their game to new levels and ensured further improvement and consolidation was made. Despite some truly awful fortune with injuries, the Viola again comfortably finished fourth and reached the final of the Coppa Italia last term.
So what of their chances of going one better and claiming that coveted Champions League spot this time around? With last season’s top three, as well as Inter, all looking strong ahead of the new campaign, the competition appears fierce. Nevertheless, the work done by Montella in his two years as boss so far has seen an attractive style of play implemented, a long-term strategy adopted and a real emphasis placed on the collective rather than the individual. They appear in excellent hands.
Fiorentina would miss Cuadrado should the inevitable happen over the next week or so, of course they would. The show must go on, however, and recent history suggests that the Viola will find a way to ensure it does. If Montella can keep Rossi and Gomez fit, firing and working in tandem this season, his team may yet be well placed to spring a surprise.
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