In the latest installment of our pre-season series, we are joined by Giancarlo Rinaldi to discuss the state of affairs at Fiorentina.
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TACTICAL CALCIO: Fiorentina recently sacked coach Vincenzo Montella due to the ambiguity of his comments regarding his future with the club. What did you make of this decision?
GIANCARLO RINALDI: I was a bit disappointed by the way things ended between the club and Vincenzo Montella but not entirely surprised. There had been hints earlier in the season – especially after the heavy first leg Europa League defeat by Sevilla – that maybe their cycle had come to an end. I think the club expected a bit more enthusiasm from Montella while he, in turn, maybe expected a greater commitment to bring in more resources to really aim for the top three.
TC: Montella’s replacement is Paulo Sousa. What tactical changes will his appointment bring about and do you think he’ll be able to take the club to new heights?
GR: Paulo Sousa has said he will continue Montella’s commitment to attacking football which would be welcome given the time and effort the team has put into that approach already. I believe he is more likely to bring through young players which would be welcome as Fiorentina have a strong Primavera set-up. Tactically, I understand he likes a 4-3-3 formation which is one the Viola have used in the past although he seems to be adaptable just like his predecessor. I hope he can take the club onto another level but it looks like other sides have strengthened a lot too so it won’t be easy to make the top three or reach a cup final.
TC: One of the major talking points about the Viola’s pre-season has been the Mohamed Salah transfer saga. As yet it’s unclear if he will be with Fiorentina next season. How important is it that the club renews his loan deal?
GR: Not many players brought in in January have made an impact like Salah did. He helped to give a vital spark to the Fiorentina attack which it was missing. It would be a real shame to lose him, especially since we thought we had an option for at least a loan for another season. However, if he is not committed to the cause – as it would seem – I’d be happier to see him move on and hope that we can use the money saved to bring in players who want to play for the club.
*Editor’s note – Salah reportedly vetoed an extended stay with Fiorentina. He is set to begin pre-season training with Chelsea.
TC: Mario Gomez has struggled to adapt to Serie A life since joining the club in 2013. How much longer can we expect to see him as Fiorentina’s first-choice frontman?
GR: I think the club would be happy to sell Mario Gomez if they can get a decent offer. He has suffered badly from injuries but, even when fit, he has struggled to fit into the Viola’s system of play. With hindsight, he perhaps was not the right signing for a team which likes an intricate passing style of play. I’d be surprised if he remained in Florence much longer.
TC: Giuseppe Rossi missed all of last season with injury but is now reportedly nearing full fitness. How big of a boost will it be to have him back and firing on all cylinders for the 2015-16 season?
GR: It would be a huge boost to have Rossi back to full fitness. There always have to be question marks and fears about a player who has suffered so many serious injuries. But, if he can avoid a recurrence, he can no doubt challenge for a place among Serie A’s top scorers once again. That, in turn, could elevate Fiorentina from a Europa League side to Champions League qualification contenders.
TC: Finally, where do you feel the team needs to be strengthened and who can Fiorentina realistically sign to achieve this?
GR: There are a few gaps in the squad, dependent on who leaves this summer. Right-back has been an area of concern for some time and a younger version of David Pizarro would be handy. If Salah is lost and Gomez is sold then another striker would also become a priority. Realistically if Sousa can match Montella’s achievements of last season I think he will have done pretty well.
Giancarlo Rinaldi is the author of 20 Great Italian Games I and II. He is a long-term contributor to Football Italia and also runs his own Italian football blog: Rinaldi’s Blog. Find him on Twitter @ginkers.