Cesare Prandelli has confirmed that he will remain at Fiorentina until the end of his contract during a tumultuous week in Florence as persistent rumours about the direction of the club, the future of Prandelli, and Adrian Mutu’s situation have enveloped la Viola. The tifosi will be glad to hear of Prandelli’s decision, yet would probably have noticed the lack of conviction in his desire to remain at the club in the beginning. At one point the Coach was critical of the management of the club and of the recent comments made by Diego Della Valle before stating he would like to stay for a few more years, stressing his belief that he is building a strong side in Florence.
The most shocking news of the week came from Diego Della Valle, the President opting to step down from his position at the head of the club. His brother Andrea remains heavily involved however, and the work the Della Valle brothers have done in Florence should not be underestimated. Fiorentina were playing in the depths of Serie C2 when Della Valle came to the club and, in less than 10 years, has helped rebuild the team to become a force in Italy and in Europe once again. Under their regime the tifosi have witnessed the rebirth of their club and seen bright talents such as Stevan Jovetic, Juan Manuel Vargas and Alberto Gilardino grace the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Diego’s stepping down may leave a void, but the presence of his brother will provide a modicum of reassurance to the supporters.
Prandelli’s decision to stay is seen as a vote of confidence in the Fiorentina project, the aim of which being to establish the club as a perennial contender to the peninsula’s biggest sides. La Viola will be breathing a sigh of relief as the Coach’s confirmation, a factor which should go some way towards retaining star players such as Jovetic and Sebastien Frey. Fiorentina have denied rumours of a potential fire-sale involving certain following the departure of patron Diego, insisting that there is no need for such rash actions. Transfer guru Pantaleo Corvino reassured the tifosi of the club’s desire to continue on the same path and to retain its marquee players. Corvino insisted that the club will continue to progress with Prandelli as Coach and Andrea Della Valle as President. The Gigliati supporters made a positive gesture towards the Della Valle brothers by extending an invitation to Diego and Andrea to join them in the Curva Fiesole to show their gratitude for the great strides made in recent years.
This has been an unusually hectic week in Florence with forward Adrian Mutu hearing of the potential ban he could be facing as CONI recommended a one-year suspension for his substance misuse. Mutu had twice failed a test for illegal substances and was consequently under a temporary ban which has deprived Fiorentina of his services in recent months. According to his agent Giovanni Becali, the Romanian would like to stay in Florence provided his suspension does not exceed a six-month period. However, CONI is recommending a 12-month ban which means Mutu might well leave Italy, but at this stage there are no certainties regarding the situation.
Mutu’s various issues have been an unwelcome distraction this season whilst his teammates have been busy aiming to impress on the European stage. Becali admitted his client’s absence did damage Fiorentina’s chances in Europe, but it is unlikely that la Viola would panic if Mutu were to leave, with Jovetic a ready-made replacement. The Montenegrin has been a revelation this season, firing the club to an impressive group stage run of five wins in a row, the architect behind the dismantling of Liverpool and the star performer against a strong Bayern Munich side in Florence.
On the transfer front, Fiorentina’s campaign appears unaffected despite the apparent changes in the hierarchy, with former Palermo and current Wolfsburg defender Andrea Barzagli being strongly linked with the club. The World Cup winner is reportedly seeking a return to the peninsula and the Gigliati look favourites to secure his signature. Fiorentina are aware they have yet to replace Dario Dainelli, whilst the injury prone Alessandro Gamberini has missed a considerable chunk of the season, turning la Viola’s usually reliable defensive line porous.
Early in the season, with Dainelli (now with Genoa) and Gamberini at centre-half, the club did not concede goals with ease and formed one of Serie A’s better defensive units. However, Dainelli was inexplicably offloaded in January, whilst Gamberini has had to deal with two major injuries which have kept him off the pitch, therefore depriving the Gigliati of his services. The signing of Barzagli might prove inspired, provided Prandelli can revive the player’s career which has taken something of a nose dive since his departure from Sicily.