Serie A Previews: Fiorentina On The Rise?

FLORENCE, ITALY - AUGUST 19: Fiorentina head coach Vincenzo Montella gestures during the pre-season friendly match between AC Fiorentina and Novara Calcio at Artemio Franchi on August 19, 2012 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

The Viola struggled through much of last season, with only a bit of luck allowing them to end in 13th. But with new signings and Vincenzo Montella at the helm, could we see Fiorentina rise again?

Our Fiorentina preview comes from new contributor Shaun Best, an England-based Lazio supporter who has previously contributed at You can find him on Twitter at Shaun_Best.

Last Season

The Viola went through three different tacticians, staged their own WrestleMania moment in the dugout between Delio Rossi and Adem Ljajic, but ultimately dug their heels in to avoid relegation and finish in a lucky 13th position.

Who's Gone

Riccardo Montolivo - Ever since his refusal to sign a new contract at the end of the 2010-11 season, Montolivo's departure has been one of the worst kept secrets in Florence and he's joined Milan on a free transfer.

Valon Behrami - The Swiss utility player has made Napoli his fifth Italian club, after spending 18 months in Florence. Joining him in Naples is defender Alessando Gamberini, who departs the club after seven seasons. A combined deal in the region of 8.5 million euros has been reported.

Lorenzo De Silvestri - Another defensive departure. The reliable right-back has been loaned to Sampdoria with a view to a permanent deal next summer.

Alessio Cerci - A co-ownership deal has been struck with Torino for the former Roma attacker, who struggled for form at the Artemio Franchi last season. It's reported that Torino have put down 2.5 million euros for a 50% stake and an option to buy Cerci outright next summer.

Amauri - The much travelled Italian citizen struggled in Florence and only managed a solitary goal during his short stay last season. He'll be hoping for more luck at Parma, where he enjoyed a successful loan spell in 2011, netting an impressive 7 goals in 11 appearances.

Amidu Salifa - A fringe player. The Ghanaian midfielder has joined Catania on loan.

Who's In

Vincenzo Montella - L'Aeroplanino (the little Airplane) jetted into Florence over the summer to take over the reigns from caretaker boss Vincenzo Guerini. Still somewhat of a rookie tactician at the age of 38, Montella impressed club officials last term as he guided Catania to a mid-table finish. This will be his third managerial role, with fans hoping for a return to happier times.

Emiliano Viviano - A product of the club's youth team and also Florence born and bred, Viviano has been loaned to the club by Palermo. Now fully recovered from a serious cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in 2011, Viviano will be pushing for a recall to the Italian national side. Veteran stopper Cristiano Lupatelli has also joined from Genoa on a free and will serve as backup.

Juan Cuadrado - The Colombian is no stranger to Serie A, having spent three years at Udinese. The right sided wingback arrives fresh from a loan spell at Lecce, where he contributed three goals.

Facundo Roncaglia - Another South American, this time of Argentinean descent, joins the club on a free transfer from Boca Juniors. Playing in the centre of defense, the 25-year-old is seen as a younger replacement for Gamberini.

21-year-old Egyptian full-back Ahmed Hegazy also joins for 1.5 million euros after a deal was initially struck with his club Ismaily last December.

Gonzalo Javier Rodriguez and Borja Valero join the club from Villarreal after the Yellow Submarines sunk into the Spanish Segunda Division. Both arrive with Champions League experience from last season. Rodriguez is an established Argentinean centre half, while Valero will be looking to pull the strings in the centre of midfield.

Alberto Aquilani - Unlucky with injuries and unloved at Liverpool, the forgotten man of Italian football will be looking to re-ignite his career in Florence. After loan spells at Juventus and Milan failed to materialise into full-time moves, the former Roma man will be looking to repay some of the 7million euro fee on the pitch.

David Pizarro - Another former Roman and stalwart of Italian Football, who's had successful Serie A stints at Udinese and Inter. The former Chilean international arrives on a two-year deal after a loan spell at Manchester City failed to materialise into anything. A confident passer and dribbler of the ball, the 32-year-old's experience in central midfield will be invaluable.

Matias Fernandez - Extra Chile has now arrived to make the Viola's midfield that little bit hotter. The exciting playmaker jets in from Sporting Lisbon where he spent three seasons. He'll be hoping to re-create a partnership with former international teammate Pizarro and will battle it out with Aquilani over set pieces. The 26-year-old is a former South American Player of the Year (2006.) Italian, Francesco Della Rocca also arrives in the middle of the park on a loan deal from Palermo.

Mounir El Hamdaoui - A Dutch turned Moroccan striker. After unsuccessful stints at Derby and Tottenham, he returned to his roots and enjoyed a prolific stint at Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar, netting 50 goals in 80 appearances. Financial issues at AZ resulted in El Hamdaoui moving to Ajax, but a falling-out with manager Frank de Boer ended with the Moroccan being frozen out for the whole of last season. Now has a new lease of life and the Number 10 shirt. The fans will expect goals.

Keep An Eye On

Stevan Jovetic - If Fiorentina want to have a successful season, a lot hinges on whether they can keep hold of their star man. After netting 14 goals in 27 games last season, the 22-year-old Montenegran has caught the eye of Juventus and Manchester City. If the man with the Sideshow Bob hairstyle stays put in Florence, the club could have the last laugh, especially if Jo-Jo can repeat last season's form.

Predicted Finish

Mid- Table

The higher ups have shuffled the deck and gambled on a heavy influx of South Americans along with a talented quartet of attacking midfielders. Pizarro and Aquilani will have points to prove in the hole, but fans will be concerned over gaps left by established stars such as Gamberini, Behrami and Montolivo. These defensive aspects of the team will need to be addressed, with the hope that the new signings can bed in quite quickly. If the club keeps hold of Jovetic, a Europa League place isn't out of the question. If he goes, and a suitable replacement isn't brought in, then the club could struggle once again.

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