New faces boost Parma for Fiorentina clash

Parma director Pietro Leonardi believes the club have emerged from the transfer window in good shape despite a number of high-profile departures.

McDonald Mariga, Parma

Defensive lynchpin and World Cup winner Cristian Zaccardo joined AC Milan and midfielder Afriyie Acquah moved to Hoffenheim, while striker Dorlan Pabon was allowed to spend the rest of the season with Monterrey.

The Gialloblu moved quickly to draft in reinforcements, taking Djamel Mesbah and Rodney Strasser from Milan, defender Andrea Coda from Udinese and midfielder MacDonald Mariga on loan from Palermo.

Leonardi admitted fending off interest for a host of star names on transfer deadline day, though, as Parma prepared to face Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

"Many teams were interested in (Ishak) Belfodil in January," he told "But since we were under no pressure we decided to keep him, as well as (Gabriel) Paletta, who was wanted by Hoffenheim,

"We gave president (Tommaso) Ghirardi a clear signal, that we didn't want to weaken the team.

"That applies to the players as well as to the coach, because we could see that there were big teams interested in him.

"We replaced Zaccardo with Coda, Acquah with Strasser and Mariga, and without letting anyone else go we took Mesbah. I am satisfied".

Parma lost at home to Napoli last time out, surrendering an unbeaten record at the Tardini that had stretched back almost 11 months, and Florence has not been a happy hunting ground for the Gialloblu.

A 3-0 defeat in September 2011 followed a 2-0 loss in September 2010 but Parma claimed a rare 3-2 win at the Franchi on their return to Serie A in 2009.

Fiorentina head coach Vincenzo Montella, meanwhile, remains focused on guiding his side into Europe.

Catania handed La Viola a third defeat in four games last weekend, but Montella said: "Our ambition hasn't changed.

"We are still planning to qualify for Europe, that's our main aim even if it's a long-term target.

"We certainly need to change something about our style of football, but our targets and convictions will spur us on."

Former Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko has arrived on loan from Paris St Germain to bolster a team that is missing Alberto Aquilani for two matches through suspension.

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