3rd July 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Fiorentina’s decision not to renew Paulo Sousa’s contract was probably the right decision by the club. Over his two years in charge, the fiery and often difficult to handle Portuguese tactician’s relationship never seemed smooth with the club’s hierarchy, with regular reports suggesting Sousa was frustrated with their unwillingness to spend money on transfers and the way they sold players he intended on keeping.
Failing to qualify for Europe by finishing in eighth place in Serie A, which the club saw as a big disappointment, in combination with their inconsistency, his aforementioned troublesome nature and exit from this term’s Europa League at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach, saw the club ready to head in a different direction.
Sousa definitely deserves credit, however, for he got the team playing some of the most exciting and beautiful football in Europe, while still producing some promising results and handsomely improving many of the team’s players. His inability to replicate his impressive fifth place league finish from the 2015/2016 campaign by finishing three places lower this season clearly didn’t go down well either, but he justifiably left La Viola proud of his time at the helm.
“I gave all of myself for Fiorentina and these lads. Perhaps I didn’t manage to transmit all of my passion for football. In the second season, I tried to focus more on realism, but this is something I’ll have to think about so I can improve for the future,” Sousa explained to Sky Sports.
He then went onto add: “I thank my lads, who every day arrived to work with the desire to surpass their limits and win the game. I gave my all to help Fiorentina win. I leave here with the pride that I gave all of myself.”
Former Inter manager, Stefano Pioli, an ex-captain of Fiorentina who made 156 appearances for the club during his playing days, should be a nice replacement for Sousa, though. Although he suffered the indignity of getting sacked by Inter Milan towards the end of last season, the club should be in good hands under his tutelage.
“It’s always been my wish to coach here. Only Fiorentina could have made me coach in Italy at this moment, otherwise I would have gone abroad,” gleamed a delighted Pioli on his appointment.
Attention has now quickly turned to transfers and building a squad capable of returning the Lillies to European football. La Viola’s director of Sport, Carlos Freitas, duly noted as much in his recent comments, stating: “Fiorentina will be active on the market and we have to build a team suitable for Europe. In the last five years, we’ve been in Europe four times and want to get back there.”
This won’t be an easy task at all, especially considering the Tuscan club is facing the very real possibility of losing some of their finest players. Inspirational defender Gonzalo Rodriguez looks set to return home to Argentina to join San Lorenzo and midfield genius Borja Valero appears set to join Inter Milan, while Nikola Kalinic and Josip Ilicic are both reported targets of Everton. However, the biggest loss looks set to come in the seemingly likely departure of the extraordinarily talented Federico Bernardeschi.
The man who joined Fiorentina at the age of nine is reportedly not interested in signing a new contract and instead has his heart set on a move away from the Artemio Franchi. Apparently Juventus is his preferred destination, but the club would prefer to sell abroad due to their uneasy relationship with the Bianconeri, making the move a challenging one for all involved parties. With Juventus lining up a €40 million bid for the 23-year-old, it’ll be intriguing to see how the saga plays out.
On the upside, La Viola have already made some promising signings including powerful defender Vitor Hugo from Palmeiras, right-back Bruno Gaspar from Vitoria de Guimaraes, plus two Serbian sensations from Partizan Belgrade in 19-year-old Nikola Milenkovic and 17-year-old Dusan Vlahovic.
Further optimism can be drawn from rumours linking Fiorentina to Hertha Berlin’s exciting Slovakian international Ondrej Duda, dynamic Sassuolo attacker Matteo Politano and Nice’s creative midfielder midfielder Valentin Eysseric.
Upon considering the fact the Della Valle family, who own the club, have recently announced the team is for sale due to fan unrest, it certainly looks like the Tuscan giants will be enduring quite a summer of upheaval. Indeed, come the Serie A season opener in August, it’ll be captivating to see how they’ve navigated the previously mentioned scenarios and what sort of team they put out.
All things considered, expect the plight of Fiorentina in the coming months to be jam packed with plentiful twists and turns.
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