Fiorentina: 5 Reasons Why They Can Be a Serious Force in Serie A Next Season
Whilst Fiorentina may have finished 17 points behind eventual champions Juventus in last season's pulsating title race, followers of La Viola are confident the chasm will be greatly reduced in the upcoming campaign.
There is even a growing sense of belief in Tuscany that Turin's title will be Florence-bound this time next year.
Possessing one of Europe's most in-demand strikers, a coach who simply exudes a profound knowledge of Serie A, the European qualification to attract top talent—as well as the required ambitious owners, the Della Valle brothers—all the ingredients are there to end the 46-year wait for a league title.
But how real are these ambitions? Over the next few slides, we'll look at why the boys in purple can make their black-and-white counterparts go red.
A World-Class Striker Looks Certain to Sign for La Viola
Victor Fraile/Getty Images
In Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina have a player who, at 23, is now beginning to look like a cerebral and meticulous striker.
Having consecutively scored over 12 league goals for the last two seasons—in addition to his 10 goals in 27 caps for his native Montenegro—he is displaying the pedigree that is attracting Europe's top clubs.
Although the Daily Telegraph's Luke Edwards interjects that new Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has cited wantaway Liverpool striker Luis Suarez as his No. 1 target, Jovetic would be a cheaper—and less divisive—addition to Los Blancos.
If Jovetic does depart, there are a host of other names, similarly prolific, who the hierarchy at Fiorentina look set to parachute in.
One of those is Mario Gomez of Bayern Munich. Fresh from winning the treble, he now looks primed to move on: Nadia Carminati of Sky Sports writing that Fiorentina are keen on the German striker and vice versa.
Whilst Juve's purchase of Manchester City's Carlos Tevez seemingly ends rumours of their interest in Gomez, it may mean Fiorentina have to battle cash-rich City for the man who could replace Gomez at the Etihad, as vocalised by Ian Herbert in The Independent.
In addition, Barcelona's David Villa—known to want to leave the Nou Camp as to further his international credentials for next year's World Cup—is also on the hit list: As The Mirror reports, the player's agent confirmed this whilst labelng Fiorentina "a fascinating project."
The Arrival of Massimo Ambrosini Augments the Midfield
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Eyebrows were raised when AC Milan parted ways with their loyal servant of 18 years, Massimo Ambrosini.
Having won four league titles and two Champions League winners' medals in almost 500 appearances for the Rossoneri, the midfielder regularly submitted virtuoso performances.
Mentioned in the same breath as once-teammates Andrea Pirlo, Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf, the tenacious and crafty lynchpin was part of a formidable set of Milan players.
With that generation having dissipated around the same time Carlo Ancelotti left the San Siro in 2009, Ambrosini and Milan did not take up the option to extend the 36-year-old's contract when it expired at the culmination of this season.
Now free to join a new club, the race has heated up in the last few days for a player who, as exemplified by the renaissance Pirlo is experiencing at Juve, brings a "winning" mentality.
However, the player's agent, Moreno Roggi, told Lady Radio this week (as reported by Yahoo!'s Mark Doyle) that Fiorentina are the favourites to sign the long-locked midfielder: Having been apparently impressed by the players they are targeting, Roggi said that Ambrosini was expected to complete the "home stretch" of his move to Tuscany this week.
With his guile and intelligence, La Viola's midfield will be a fearsome spectacle.
Slotting in alongside the Chilean pairing of David Pizarro and Matias Fernandez, the Italian will additionally complement his compatriot and fellow midfield enforcer, the mercurial Alberto Aquilani: With seven goals in 25 appearances last season, the former Roma and Liverpool player will undoubtedly benefit from the elder's calm head.
In addition, Ambrosini's repertoire of wide-ranging passes and his ability to pick out teammates will be a huge asset; prodigious Serbian youngster Adem Ljajic can expect to build upon his 11 goals last season when being aided by such a veritable supplier.
Second Season Sees Montella's Stock Soar
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Nobody expected Vincenzo Montella to make such a seamless transition from player to coach.
Having scored almost a double century of goals in 385 apperances for a host of clubs including Roma, Sampdoria and Fulham, Montella had proven ability as a player: His 14 goals were a principal contribution to Roma's title win of 2000-01.
Following his decision to hang up his boots at the end of the 2007-08 season at the age of 34, it was evident that this player who thrived as an "intelligent" and opportunistic striker still had lots to contribute to the footballing world.
Nobody expected he would make quite an impact so soon, and in such a short space of time.
Returning to Roma, he took on low-key roles with their youth team. However, after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri in February 2011, Montella was tasked with steering the Giallorossi back to stable waters.
Despite a sixth-place finish, the incoming owners deemed his services no longer necessary. His heroics had not gone unnoticed, though: Catania took him on, and he repaid them with a full year's work and a rare finish above local rivals Palermo.
Then last summer came the move to Tuscany, which catapulted Montella into consideration alongside Europe's other young and pioneering managers: Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham's Andre Villas-Boas.
Nobody expected him to reject the overtures of his hometown club, Napoli, when they recently sought a replacement for Walter Mazzarri.
It speaks volumes of his decision to stay at the Artemio Franchi. His current team has vast amounts of potential, and he is the man to fulfil it.
Opulent Mix of Youth and Experience
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Last season, Fiorentina's standout performers were the compelling 23-year-old Jovetic, the reliable hands of 28-year-old Borja Valero, the prodigious 22-year-old Stefan Savic and the intimidating 29-year-old Gonzalo Rodriguez.
When you add talented 21-year-old Adem Ljajic into the equation, Fiorentina have a solid spine of players, from front to back, who not only entertain but also produce results.
In this upcoming season, Montella will be meticulous with new additions: Whilst he will want to add to this spine, it is inevitable he will be mindful of disrupting such harmony.
One striker who will certainly augment the Stadio Artemi Franchi setup is Italian front man Giuseppe Rossi.
Having a made a nigh-on miraculous recovery from a double cruciate ligament injury, the former Manchester United and Villarreal player will be roaring to open his account for his new club.
At 26, he typifies the balance that Fiorentina need to strike between prodigious potential and tested talent.
Serie A Is in Transition
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
One has to cast the mind back many years to remember the last time Inter Milan finished outside the top four.
The hierarchy at the Nerazzurri have moved quickly to remedy this: Having disposed of Andrea Stramaccioni as coach, the more experienced Walter Mazzarri arrives, fresh from leading Napoli to runners-up.
Upheaval isn't just restricted to Milan, however.
It is widely expected that last season's league top scorer, Edinson Cavani, will depart Napoli—having been so instrumental in aiding Mazzarri's charge up the table—for another European destination. By bidding for the Uruguayan front man on Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain joined Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for the in-demand striker, as John Drayton of the Daily Mail reports.
If he does leave, Napoli will need to replace him immediately. Having been recently installed at the helm, former Chelsea and Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will be expected to utilise his credentials—garnered by winning the Europa League last season—to attract a high-calibre poacher.
If they can't replicate his goals, one could imagine they will not emulate their runners-up finish.
It is also paramount to take the Rome clubs into consideration: Roma and Lazio, historically a threat, have disappointed in recent seasons.
Fiorentina can exploit all of this uncertainty and steal a march on their rivals.