At this point, it’s one of Serie A’s worst-kept secrets that Fiorentina is heading towards a complete rebuild. Vincenzo Italiano is leaving at the end of the season, removing the stability of 3 years in charge. That’s the 5th-longest current tenure in the league (behind Gian Piero Gasperini, Max Allegri, Stefano Pioli, and Simone Inzaghi) and the longest the Viola have had since Vincenzo Montella’s first tenure from 2012 to 2015.

Stability at the managerial position is important and the league table helps prove it: the top 3 sides in the standings have all had their head coaches for over 3 years, while Atalanta in 6th remains the gold standard for overachievement. Blowing it all up is a dangerous proposition, but that’s exactly what Rocco Commisso is about to do.

Part of the danger comes from the new manager, but the upcoming roster turnover is just as significant. Of the 23 players to play over 200 Serie A minutes, 7 are likely to move on, and another still counts as a major departure. While that does open the door for a lot of upgrades, it’s very rare to see a team change out a third of its squad; that’s the sort of drastic step you associate more with relegation than with a team currently competing on 3 fronts and aiming for its first silverware since 2001.

Let’s run down the list of players who are either confirmed or likely to depart in the summer. Once we’re done, we’ll see if we can draw any conclusions.

Andrea Belotti

The Dejection of the Rooster was one of Oprah’s book club picks in 2013.

Il Gallo is here on a dry loan so there’s no way to make the deal permanent. There may be some brief discussion with AS Roma about extending the deal or buying him, but his struggles in front of goal and massive salary make an agreement very unlikely. Ultimately, he’ll join the likes of Krzysztof Piątek, Luka Jović, and M’Bala Nzola as guys we briefly hoped might replace Dušan Vlahović and ultimately failed.

Giacomo Bonaventura

The oldest guy on the roster is also its joint-leading scorer and enjoying a national team revival. It sounds like the 1-year extension in his current contract (which otherwise expires this summer) is based on minutes played and he won’t hit that mark. He wants to re-sign at the same salary but the club, wary of overpaying a 34-year-old, has demurred. It makes sense to avoid spending on old players, but Jack’s still very effective and is one of the team’s leaders. It’s an unfortunate situation and one that’s been mishandled, but he’s almost certainly leaving on a free come June.

Gaetano Castrovilli

We’ve covered this previously at length and so don’t need to go too in-depth here. Castrovilli’s departure still muddies the waters for next year, as he’s been a part of Fiorentina’s identity for several years despite some injury issues, and losing him opens another empty space in midfield for next year.

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan celebrates his goal against AC Milan.

Perfect timing to announce that he’s on his way out, you know, right after he scored a thunderbastard against Milan.
Photo by Andrea Martini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fiorentina has an option to extend the do-it-all midfielder’s contract for another year but it sounds like the brass is ready to let him walk. It’s a mystifying decision, considering how good he’s been this year as a partner to Arthur and his general versatility; you’d think he could probably fit under any of the coaches who may replace Italiano, but for whatever reason he’s never really gotten a fair shake in Florence despite being a productive player and consummate professional. I’ll miss him.

Davide Faraoni

Like Belotti, Faraoni was brought in to fill a short-term need. With Dodô recovered from his cruciate injury and Michael Kayode blossoming into a quality Serie A player in his first senior season, the Hellas Verona loanee is clearly the odd man out. It’s too bad, as he’s been steady for Fiorentina, but he’ll head back to Verona before being sold elsewhere this summer.

Christian Kouamé

Much like Duncan, Kouamé’s got an option for another year that the club reportedly won’t pick up. While he’s never become the star we envisioned when he joined from Genoa, he’s a competent and useful squad option whose versatility, intelligence, and non-stop running make him functional at worst. He’s not just a water carrier masquerading as a winger, either; remember when he led the Conference League in assists last year? At just 26, he’s clearly got plenty to offer, but he’ll try his luck elsewhere.

Maxime Lopez

We all thought he was a great signing: a midfielder whose greatest strength was in building up from deep in a 4-2-3-1, had produced a solid body of work in Serie A, and whose cost was fairly low for a guy entering his physical prime. Instead, he’s mostly been glued to the bench and underwhelmed on those few occasions when he’s made the XI. The €1 million loan fee is gone but there’s no way Daniele Pradè is going to sink another €8 million into making the deal permanent.

Arthur Melo

Arthur Melo of Acf Fiorentina looks on during the Serie A...

Saw the train coming a mile away and still hoped it would jump the tracks instead of hitting us.
Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

We all kind of knew it but his agent Federico Pastorello confirmed last month that the Juventus loanee won’t stick around past the end of the year. Arthur clearly saw this as a temporary move to play a bunch of minutes and prove that he’s still got it, and he’s succeeded admirably. His astronomical salary and Champions League aspirations meant he was always on his way out, and to his credit, he never pretended otherwise.

Conclusions

The most obvious thing here is that we’re witnessing a midfield exodus that will leave Rolando Mandragora as the last man standing. There’s a minuscule chance that Sofyan Amrabat decides to stick around following his failure at Manchester United, but the likeliest scenario is that Fiorentina has to procure an entirely new starting midfield this summer. On the plus side, that’ll allow the new coach to help build the team to spec, but it’ll also make it hard to hit the ground running as players figure out how to work together. Don’t be surprised if there’s a rocky start to 2024-2025.

Beyond that, losing Belotti and Kouamé emphasizes the need for a striker and a winger to start opposite Nico González, but we’ve known about those shortfalls for the past couple of years and they don’t really change anything. We’ll likely see a couple more halfhearted swings at those positions in hopes of striking gold, but the focus will likely be the engine room.

But hey, at least the club’s broken a quarter century of futility at rightback. Right? Guys? Guys? Where’d everyone go?

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