Welcome to the Football Manager team guide to Fiorentina on FM19.
I’m currently into my third season with this fantastic club, and cannot express how much I’m enjoying it.
Plenty of talented youngsters, not exactly swimming in cash, and a nice history if not an overwhelming one.
To me, this translates as a club with huge potential that doesn’t have the weight of too much history or big shoes to fill (there’s no Fergie or Wenger to follow here).
Fiorentina Club History
Fiorentina were founded in 1926, and then refounded in 2002 following bankruptcy, and impressively have played the 5th-most number of seasons in Serie A.
The club has two Scudettos – won in ‘56 and ‘69 – six Coppa Italias; one Italia Supercoppa, and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
La Viola also finished as runners up in the European Cup in ‘57, and in the UEFA Cup in ‘90. This makes them one of fourteen clubs to have played in all three major European finals.
In real life, Fiorentina finished season 2018-19 placed 16th in Serie A and semi-finalists of Coppa Italia.
Their average attendance at Stadio Artemio Franchi was 31,135, and manager Stefan Pioli was replaced by Vincenzo Montella in April (but you’re going to beat that mark).
Fiorentina has had many famous players pass through their ranks, most notably stars such as Roberto Baggio, Rui Costa, Gabriel Batistuta, and Enrico Chiesa (father of the wonderkid who’s about to carry your team: Federico Chiesa. More on him later).
Now that we’re a bit more familiar with our surroundings; let’s have a look at what you’ll be working with.
There is absolutely no reason Alban Lafont can’t be your number 1.
Top shot-stopper with a bright future, he can only get better. He’s 19 and already has some superb attributes for a non-Champions League club.
Alban will be a mainstay of your team for years to come, so get him in your goal from day 1.
These are his starting attributes:
And this is how his first season under my management played out:
As a backup, there’s no reason Terracciano can’t warm the bench for you.
If you like to play your second keeper in cups, he’ll do the job when called upon, but Lafont should have no problems playing the whole season.
In your u20s, but out on loan, is Bartlomiej Dragowski.
Another promising young keeper, with a slightly lower ceiling than Lafont, Dragowski can develop into a convenient keeper, and worth keeping around from season 2 onward.
Unfortunately (for you), he’ll eventually grow bored of watching from the bench, and with Lafont becoming a star player, you’ll be struggling to squeeze him into games.
But if you can keep him happy, there are far worse options to have as your second-choice keeper moving forward.
I like a back four with attacking full-backs, and this may be an area where you first feel the need to delve into the transfer market.
At left-back, Cristiano Biraghi is your first choice, with 17 crossing, 15 work rate, 15 pace, and 16 stamina; Biraghi has all the attributes I’m looking for in a full-back who needs to cover his entire side of the pitch, and at 25 is about to start playing his very best football.
David Hancko also has decent attributes for crossing and stamina, and at 20 has plenty of time to work on improving his game. For now, he’s a capable understudy to Biraghi.
Luca Ranieri and Fabio Ponsi are also at the club in the u20s and u18s respectively – Ranieri starts on loan – and have high potential, so by the time Biraghi starts to decline you’ll have a number of options as his successor.
At right-back, you have Vincent Laurini, whose attributes are comparable to Biraghi’s. If you don’t want to invest in this area, Laurini will be a perfectly suitable choice for the starting spot.
However, backup is where we start to face difficulties.
Lorenzo Venuti is out on loan, and while Gabriele Ferrarini in your u20s turns into a very useful squad player – who ended up playing from January of my second season until reinforcements arrived in June, and didn’t look out of place – he’s nowhere near ready to see Serie A action.
If you’re determined not to strengthen, Milenkovic can be used at right-back to cover.
Hold up, did that just say Milenkovic as cover??
Yes. At right back.
Because he should be playing a lot of games at centre-back for you. He’s 6’5, strong, aggressive, determined, phenomenal in the air, and only 20 years old.
He’s absolutely wasted at right-back when he has world-class potential in the heart of your defence.
This is how he looks at the start of the game, with attributes for a no-nonsense centre-back highlighted.
Although he can play central defender and ball-playing defender with ease, so he’ll suit almost any system at centre-back.
At the end of season one, Barca came calling, and I sold him for £55m.
He wanted to leave, and tbh I could do with the money. Plus there are other centre-backs out there who can perform just as well so don’t be too devastated if he wants to leave.
If you can convince him to stay, you may well have the best CB in the world in a few years. If not, you’ll get the funds to replace him properly.
Partner Milenkovic with German Pezzalla, and back them up with Vitor Hugo and Federico Ceccherini.
As Hugo is currently using up one of your non-EU slots, you may choose to off-load him pretty quickly.
Neither Hugo nor Ceccherini are bad options to have as backups, but the non-EU rules can be pretty tricky to navigate in Italy, so if he’s not crucial: get rid.
This was another factor in moving Milenkovic on, though with how crucial he can be to your defence if you let him, he’s worth using a spot for.
Biraghi, Pezzalla, Milenkovic, and Laurini is a very capable back line, and won’t concede many goals – especially from crosses with the monsters you have at CB.
Biraghi is also a massive weapon in the final third, so don’t be afraid to get him forward.
There’s talent here.
Marco Benassi is a great weapon to have as a BBM, and Gerson as a play-maker LOVES a killer through-ball for your strikers and has an excellent eye for goal.
You also have Jordan Veretout who’s a very capable play-maker – if lacking Gerson’s goal threat – but can provide great coverage as a DM if that’s your style.
Christian Norgaard falls under the same category as Veretout and put in some exceptional performances as a DM for me.
On-loan Edmilson Fernandes is a great back up for Benassi as a BBM, although I’ll admit I sold Bryan Dabo before seeing what he was capable of in competitive action.
So with so many options, who do you turn to?
Well, Benassi should be the first choice, played as a DM. In my first season, he had an average rating of 6.95 and watching matches it felt like he was all over the park.
Back him up with Fernandes, and you’re good to go.
The rest is up to you and your style.
If you – like me – prefer a 4-3-3, I’d recommend Veretout as the DM and Gerson as the MC in an advanced play-maker role. Norgaard is a very good back up to both, although you may choose to look to the transfer market to strengthen this area.
Out on loan is Hamed Junior Traore, and I’d definitely recommend taking a closer look at him. When Fernandes returns to his parent club, Traore is more than capable of returning as a backup option to Benassi and WILL start pushing for first-team football before the end of season two.
When Benassi’s value skyrockets, it might be worth considering putting your faith in Traore, but as he starts the game at 18 years of age compared to Benassi’s 23.
You can hang onto both and get the best years of Benassi’s career before moving him on as Traore comes into his prime.
Kevin Ackermann and Erald Lakti are also great prospects. Getting them the right loan is vital as both can have a role to play if you develop them correctly.
You’ve got Federico Chiesa. You’re going to be playing with wingers.
Play him. Play him a lot. He’s the first name on your team sheet. His value goes through the roof, and he can easily provide you with 20 goals and 15 assists in a season.
He starts the game with concerns about the size of the club and whether he should be considering moving on, so you’ll need to address that pretty quickly.
On the pitch, you’ll probably be looking to play him on the right-wing. Mainly due to the strength of other options on the left, but I wholeheartedly recommend playing him on the left as an inside forward.
Your other options include Kevin Mirallas and Tofol Montiel on the right; and Marko Pjaca and Simone Minelli on the left.
Montiel is a decent prospect but not ready for this level.
Mirallas is okay as a backup, and Pjaca is a good option to have. If you’re not looking to invest in this area, you should be playing Chiesa on the right as a winger, and Pjaca on the left as an inside forward.
When it comes to strikers, Giovanni Simeone is the best at the club.
However, there’s interest, and his head is turned. Great if you can keep him, but I chose to cash in for £21m.
Luis Muriel is on loan from Sevilla, and he’s suitable for 12-15 goals a season.
I didn’t miss Simeone, but I’d imagine my team could’ve scored a frightening amount of goals with his finishing and – considering we’re playing with a ridiculously talented wide man – 17 for heading.
As further back up, Dusan Vlahovic and Martin Graiciar are 18 and 19 respectively and have bright futures.
Vlahovic especially came off the bench to provide some important strikes in my first season.
Before any transfer business is done, you have a strong starting XI of Lafont, Laurini, Milenkovic, Pezzella, Biraghi, Veretout, Benassi, Gerson, Chiesa, Pjaca, and Simeone.
In your second choice XI; Muriel, Fernandes, Vitor Hugo, Mirallas and Norgaard are all very capable backups, and your squad has a promising blend of experience and youth. Not to mention two wonderkids.
You start with at least £13m to spend – dependent on expectations – but not much wiggle room in the wage budget. The wage budget is a problem, but a fairly easily solved one.
Serie A transfer and wage budgets in Football Manager 2019
There is SO. MUCH. DEADWOOD. In this club.
You need to trim the fat to free up some wage budget.
I’d recommend anyone around the club older than 22 who isn’t among your first or second choice XIs should be straight on the transfer list.
Don’t be too precious about fees, your existing budget isn’t bad at all, and Simeone can raise revenue if you need it, but you’re paying too much in wages to players who don’t need to be there.
I like a DM, and I like them to play half back.
Neither Veretout nor Norgaard have the heading ability for this, so I brought in Tomas Soucek for £5m.
Soucek’s average rating was 7.14, and he chipped in with 3 goals. But most importantly, he gave my backline some stability to allow my full-backs to get forward. He’s an absolute beast in this role, and a steal at £5m if you get in early. He’s regularly my first transfer on any save, and he should be yours too if you’re taking over at Fiorentina.
Next was Cristian Pavon from Boca Juniors for £3.5m.
Honestly, I couldn’t believe how good he could be for me. I brought him in to start on my right-wing, so I could move Chiesa to the left as an inside forward.
I could write more about what a talent he is and how crucial he is to this save, but I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:
Not bad for £3.5m.
The best bit about this was the £55m I got for him, which went a very very long way towards setting the club up in a much better financial situation.
Meaning we could now start to make bigger waves in the transfer market and grow the club again.
He’s a great talent and an even better investment, so he should be high on your list of targets.
My final first summer transfer target was Kevin Mbabu.
As good as Laurini is, who can turn down a chance at Kevin Mbabu??
He cost £12.25m, but he gave me 10 assists in his season-and-a-half with La Viola before moving to Man Utd for over £30m in profit.
Again, this was business that put the club in a much healthier situation than I found it, which you’ll be keen to address when you look at the finances.
Other useful players to look at are John Souttar from Hearts, Ivan Gomez from Estudiantes, Gianluca Mancini from Atalanta (home-grown at Fiorentina as well, very handy for Europe), and Tomas Chancalay from Colon.
I found great success with a Klopp-inspired 4-3-3.
In Serie A, you’ll come across a lot of defensively-minded teams, so I found when you try to take the game to them and recover the ball high up the pitch, you can force mistakes from teams set up to minimise mistakes.
I chose slightly shorter passing, playing out of defence, more expressive, and a high-tempo to directly combat the more conservative approach traditionally found in Italy.
And by focusing play down the wings with overlapping full-backs, you can exploit the brilliance of Chiesa.
A high defensive line and a higher line of engagement makes the playing area absolutely tiny for the opponent when they have the ball. And extremely urgent pressing is absolutely key to forcing mistakes.
I add “get stuck in” to up the intensity, although you may want to reconsider that if you find you’re losing your best players to suspension.
The key to this formation is the half back, for which Tomas Soucek is perfectly suited and MUST be top of your shopping list.
The halfback allows your full-backs forward and turns your back two into a back three, meaning that when your opponent recovers possession you’ve got 3 players back and ready to stop the counter.
When you do come across a side happy to counter-press, the halfback is a great option to recycle possession and take the pressure of your ball-playing defenders.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and are looking forward to starting a new save with Fiorentina.
This club has absolutely huge potential, and I’m sure you’ll have hours of fun bringing glory to La Viola!