Badelj: "Back to win over the fans again." Prade and Barone hail "key signing!



Milan Badelj is back. Back in Florence and back in Viola. Back with pride, experience and a sense of belonging. And the desire to win over the fans.

Those were the key concepts when Joe Barone and Daniele Prade unveiled the Croatia international at a media conference on Monday afternoon

“This is an important day for Fiorentina's growth.” Barone began. “After a month and a half, this new ownership has managed to bring Milan Badelj back home.”  

What's the ultimate objective of this club, starting again after a 16th-place finish last season?

“We're working on a daily basis. Our first objective is the training ground. Then little by little we'll build Fiorentina up to the same level as the city. We have to be a bit patient and we need everyone's help if we're to be successful.”

Is Federico Chiesa's future still at Fiorentina?

“In the changing room after the game against Livorno, Federico said to me, 'Joe, did you see that goal? It was a great goal!' I told him not to worry and to keep doing the same things. Federico is our player and he will play alongside Milan Badelj.”

Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade also expressed his satisfaction at finally getting his man.

“This is the most important day since I returned to the club. I've been thinking about bringing Milan back since 1 July. We've said since the start how important it is to rebuild a Fiorentina identity and sense of belonging, and there could be no one better than Badelj. Without taking anything away from the other players who have joined or who are yet to join us, I believe Badelj will be the most important signing I'll make this year.

“He's come back to Fiorentina and Fiorentina is the same but the people are different. When Rocco Commisso asked me what sort of team I'd build, I told him that first of all I'd put together a team of players who wear the Viola shirt with pride – and the first name was Milan Badelj's.”

What are your targets on the pitch this season?

“We haven't set ourselves any targets in terms of results because we're starting afresh. We want a team that plays good football and that in time will be able to compete with the best. President Commisso is very competitive and he wants to win silverware. We mustn't make him wait too long.”

How is it different working for Rocco Commisso's Fiorentina compared to the Della Valles' Fiorentina?

“My own working methods are the same. Barone is right beside me and we agree on every deal. I feel a great sense of responsibility towards the club and the fans, but at the same time I'm very calm because sharing ideas is fundamental. If we do well, it will be thanks to me. And if we do less well, it will be Joe Barone's fault!”

Badelj is playmaker Fiorentina were looking for. Are you still interested in the other midfielders you've been linked with?

“Badelj's arrival doesn't rule out other players. Badelj allows us to play in various formations. He's an intelligent player who allows us to do lots of things. He'll be the man pulling the strings in our team.

Badelj also fielded questions from the media.

Why did you decide to come back to Fiorentina?

“When I took the decision to leave Fiorentina it was for sporting ambition – because I wanted to try a different experience. I've come back because of the bond I feel with Florence and Fiorentina. I've never stopped loving this city. I'm happy to start again with the people who brought me here years ago.”
Did you get the impression Fiorentina wanted to keep you at all costs last year?

“I don't know, perhaps not entirely, but at the end of the day the final decision was mine. It hurts to read certain things – like it was all about the money.”

What dreams do you have?

“I'd like to rediscover peace and joy in a family that has given me all that. I have to do everything I can to repay people for their faith in me. A part of me never left Florence.”

What didn't work out for you at Lazio? You were captain here after the Davide Astori tragedy. Do you expect to be named captain again?

“Not at all. We already have a captain – and deservedly so.

“It was mainly my fault that things didn't work out at Lazio. There were things which prevented me from expressing my full potential. I can only thank Lazio. Unfortunately, at the decisive moments I wasn't ready.”

What sort of season are you expecting at Fiorentina?

“I'll try to get back to the level I was at when I was last in Florence. I'll do everything I can to help my young team-mates and help the team grow by bringing my experience.”  

What did Rocco Commisso say to you?

“He welcomed me and said we'd meet in a few weeks' time.”

How did you feel when Prade called you to bring you back to Florence?

“At the start I didn't even think it was possible. I couldn't believe it. But here I am. I'll accept whatever role I'm given.”

Did the memory of Davide Astori have any bearing on your decision to come back to Florence?

“Yes, the memory of Davide did influence my thinking, but it wasn't just for that.”

Is your aim now to end your career in Florence?

My aim, besides winning over the fans, is to always give 100%. I've learnt that there are few guarantees in life, so it's right to fuel your dreams.”

Do you not feel the fans have the same confidence in you that they used to?
“No, but it's totally normal that the fans should feel that way and that they might have doubts about a player who left the club and didn't do well elsewhere. That's why I said I want to win the fans over again.”

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