Gennaro Gattuso, Fiorentina and the Deal That Wasn't

Informed that the team was no longer prepared to negotiate for any of the three players on Gattuso’s list because of their links to Mende...


Informed that the team was no longer prepared to negotiate for any of the three players on Gattuso’s list because of their links to Mendes, the coach informed Fiorentina that he no longer felt wanted. The sides negotiated his exit before he had met the players. All that remains from his 23-day tenure is bad blood and hard questions.

The episode represents another failure in the eyes of Fiorentina fans angry about Commisso’s inability to build a team to compete with rivals in the higher reaches of Italy’s top division, Serie A, or to follow through on promises to modernize the club’s Artemio Franchi stadium. The owners, meanwhile, are bewildered by the criticism, feeling that their achievements have not been taken into account. Serie A’s management, for instance, recently credited Commisso, a telecommunications billionaire, with helping broker its new television contract in the United States.

For Mendes, the events in Florence were a rare setback. His rise from small-market player to market maker can be traced to 2004, when he brought his client José Mourinho to Chelsea and helped him stock the London team with a clutch of players from his stable.

As Mendes’s reputation grew — Mendes has also guided the career of Cristiano Ronaldo — so did his reach. Chinese soccer, for instance, turned to Mendes for counsel and players when it wanted to improve its top league. One Chinese conglomerate, Fosun International, was so impressed with his work that it bought a stake in Mendes’s agency, Gestifute.

That relationship deepened when Fosun bought the English team Wolverhampton Wanderers. A group of Mendes players acquired to bolster the roster helped the team win promotion to the Premier League, and newer, costlier additions have allowed it to maintain that status. When the team parted ways with the Mendes client who had overseen its rise, Nuno Espírito Santo, his replacement, Bruno Lage, was another Portuguese coach handpicked by the agent.

Wolves even played a minor role in the events in Florence. Fiorentina had not yet signed its contract with Gattuso, and Wolves had not yet announced Lage as its coach, when Mendes indicated that Gattuso was also an option he had in mind for the Premier League team.

Mendes told Fiorentina he wanted to insert a 2 million euro buyout clause in Gattuso’s contract, a fee that could be paid at any time and would allow him to move on should a better coaching offer emerge. Fiorentina balked, saying it did not make sense to commit millions of dollars for players signed to suit Gattuso’s playing style if it was at risk of losing him at any time for such a low fee. A compromise figure of 10 million euros was agreed upon, but the contract was never signed.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Gennaro Gattuso, Fiorentina and the Deal That Wasn't
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