Serie A has been having a bad year by most people’s standards. Some of the most well known names, such as AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva along with Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi to Paris-Saint Germain, have left the Calcio without many of their most recognizable stars. Juventus have been able to strengthen themselves well in the summer and look poised to defend their Serie A title while also prepared to make an impact on the Champion’s League two years on from their last appearance. Roma have also been able to strengthen adequately, and Inter look set to get out of the shambles of the last two years and prepare to challenge Juventus along with Napoli.
Through all this Fiorentina has been left out of the limelight but have gone on an excellent transfer campaign and may yet prove another challenge for the traditional powerhouses to beat. They capitalized on Villareal’s demotion from the Liga by buying versatile defender Gonzalo Rodriguez and creative attacking midfielder Borja Valero. The former Real Madrid cantero has been on good form in the last few years which has earned him a call-up to the Spanish national team in 2011 and even had him linked temporarily with a return to Real Madrid.
They were also able to bolster their attack with the addition of out-of-favor striker Mounir El Hamdoui from Ajax and Francesco Della Rocca on loan from Palermo. They appear set to hold on to Stevan Jovetic despite bids from both Juventus and Manchester City, but Valero should be able to fill the second striker position should he leave. Starlet Adem Ljajic is an excellent prospect who should benefit from this supporting cast, and while Juan Vargas’s form has dipped somewhat in the last year; his ability is without question and he is an excellent player on the left.
One of the best moves of the year is also their purchases of deep-lying playmakers Alberto Aquilani and David Pizarro from Liverpool and Roma respectively. These are two excellent players who can provide defensive cover in the back while also providing a creative outlet from deep to instigate attacks. Aquilani’s injury history is well documented, but Pizarro is more than able to cover for him if he should be injured and he did impress for AC Milan last year and Juventus the year before; the only reason he was not bought was because of the high fee Liverpool demanded for him. Pizarro fell out of favor last year in Roma with head coach Luis Enrique, but played well while on loan the second half of last season to Manchester City.
The other department that was fortified was in goal, with the loan move for Emiliano Viviano and bringing in the experienced Cristiano Lupatelli to compete with the young Neto are all excellent moves. Neto is 23, and will benefit from learning from Lupatelli and especially Viviano. Viviano has been heralded as Buffon’s successor and Italy’s future No. 1 in the coming years and has even filled in for him when he suffered injury problems in the last two years. He has proven to be a more than able deputy and is an excellent prospect that is sure to protect the Fiorentina goal.
All in all, while Fiorentina has been flying under the radar this summer with its purchases new coach Vincenzo Montella has to be commended for the team he has brought together. If the new players gel well, he could make a team that could threaten Italy’s top teams and qualify for the Champion’s League. Fiorentina may not be making headlines now, but come the end of this season they may turn a few heads.
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Written by Mahmoud Ghellai