Fiorentina haven’t had the easiest of summers; Paulo Sousa left after a drawn out and disappointing campaign to be replaced by Stefano Pioli. Turmoil has continued at a boardroom level with the Della Valle family ready to sell in response to pressure from supporters.
An apparent attempt to ‘Italianise’ the squad will see Federico Chiesa take on a key role after his excellent season last year, but it has been hindered by the sale of fellow young star Federico Bernardeschi to rivals Juventus and the ill-feeling generated by such an acrimonious transfer.
Further back on the pitch, the heartbeat of the midfield has been torn out by the sales of Borja Valero and Matias Vecino to Inter. Yet, with such an exodus of players, Fiorentina may be able to surprise some as they rebuild and place faith in less well-known figures.
Vitor Hugo is the man tasked with shoring up the defence and the 26-year-old Brazilian will have to hit the ground running in his first taste of European football.
The Tuscans appeared to be going through the motions for much of the 2016-17 season so a drastic shake-up may well be the ideal cure. Pioli had a brief impact at Inter and will look to galvanise a side that is counting on youth and his usual 4-2-3-1 formation brings a stable base.
Giovanni Simeone joined after a promising campaign with Genoa when he scored a number before hitting a plateau midway through the season. Ianis Hagi is another famous son who will be hoping to show what he can do, while the American Joshua Perez will be out to prove himself at the age of 19 after being involved with the Viola since 2013.
Marco Benassi appears to be a quality signing as the versatile midfielder has a great deal of Serie A experience at the age of just 22. A player who is involved in all aspects of play, he has captained both Torino and the Italy Under-21 side and he can expect to become a symbol for the Tuscans moving into the future.
It remains true that Fiorentina lost many of their stars, with front-man Nikola Kalinic expected to leave for AC Milan as well, but a shake-up was sorely needed. It’s a risk to place faith in youth but players like Chiesa have already shown they’re capable.
Fans enjoy seeing young players emerge from obscurity and becoming stars at their club, and Fiorentina need to create a sense of positivity and goodwill after all the anger that has been directed at the board. It won’t be easy, but the Viola can make small steps forward in 2017-18.