It took longer than anticipated, but Juventus finally have their new coach: former Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, who has reportedly penned a three-year, €18M contract. Sarri is coming off a third-placed finish with the Blues and recently won the first trophy of his career by beating Arsenal in the Europa League final. It took a small financial compensation in order to release him from his deal with the English club. Despite the relative success of his tenure, Sarri butted heads with the players and the management and was never embraced by the fans during his time in London and at some point was at risk of being axed mid-season.
Sarri’s Napoli was the opponent that pushed Juventus the most in recent years thanks to a record-campaign in 2017/2018, where they amassed 91 points and defeated the Bianconeri at the Stadium late in the season to cut the lead to the slimmest of margins, but the Old Lady managed to hold on and bested the Partenopei by four points. The manager then elected to leave Italy and was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti. He concluded in second and third position in the previous two years with the Azzurri.
The 60-year-old former banker cut his teeth in the lower leagues for 15 years before finally striking gold at Empoli in 2013, which he led to the promotion and then to a satisfying season in the top league, where they avoided relegation in comfortable manner. Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis was won over by his proactive brand of football and gave him the keys.
Sarri run a 4-3-1-2 in Tuscany, but then switched to a 4-3-3 with the Partenopei and that became his trademark ever since. It was the most used tactic by the Bianconeri this year, so the roster already apt and requires some adjustments only from a depth standpoint. The principles behind it will be pretty different and less conservative compared to when Massimiliano Allegri was at the helm.
Sarri worked with Daniele Rugani in Empoli and tried to poach him the following seasons. He got the best out of Gonzalo Higuain in 2016/2017 and the striker will indeed be back in Turin, but he is unlikely to stay. It will be interesting to see if the new coach will be able to replicate what he did with Dries Mertens, whom he turned into a fantastic false-nine, with Paulo Dybala, who is the player who suffered the most last season. However, he might be tempted to use Cristiano Ronaldo as centre-forward.
Sarri is the 47th coach in the history of Juventus: for a minute it looked a foreigner could sit on the bench for just the second time in the last 40 years, the other being Didier Deschamps in 2006, but in the end the executives stayed the course.
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