A winning cycle must come to an end. Even a highly successful management team makes mistakes. Modern football puts emphasis on having at least a couple of elite midfielders and having quality fullbacks to achieve success on the big stage. All three statements above are accurate.
The same statements above are also applicable to Juventus in one way or another, yet our focus today is not on the statements above but rather on what can be done to halt this decline by Juve.
Before discussing some of the ways to address Juve’s problems, have a look at a sample of the fine products and designs by https://twitter.com/Striped_Hearts.
What can be done (realistically & in general) to fix Juve’s problems:
1. Offload the players who are injury prone:
For a club of Juve’s stature, the medical staff is either poor or management has turned a blind eye on the medical history of a number of players. Aaron Ramsey, Mattia De Sciglio and Douglas Costa are injury prone players and have often had fitness problems. They must be moved whether via simple sale or as part of a deal to get a better player.
France’s Lyon could be a club interested in one or more of the players above, and Juve have shown interest in signing Lyon’s Houssem Aouar. Aouar fits the criteria the Bianconeri are desperately looking for: he is still only 22 years old, he has experience in the Champions League and he has shown potential whenever he played in Europe.
For those claiming he has little experience, Houssem has already played as a regular for Lyon for almost four seasons now. Still, on his own Aouar would not be enough to rejuvenate the squad.
2. Sell the players who are underperforming:
That is a tricky one because Juve have several players who are either not performing well or have been far too inconsistent to be trusted with playing against the bigger sides in Serie A or to compete in a match in the Champions League. This list includes the likes of Rodrigo Bentancur, Adrien Rabiot, Alex Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci and so forth. Bonucci will likely remain with the club and Giorgio Chiellini is not included in this list because he will likely retire this summer or the next one as a Juve player.
3. Begin again the search for Bargain deals:
Juve’s current successful cycle was based on a solid foundation with smart financial moves and bargain signings- whether on a free transfer or for a relatively low fee. Juve went away from that approach from the moment they signed Gonzalo Higuain in their desperate quest to establish themselves as a force in Europe. Higuain could not deliver the Champions League but that was always going to be a difficult task when the club was losing quality players almost every summer and the midfield issues were often given less attention than required.
The club’s best midfield signing in the last four to five years- Miralem Pjanic- is no longer with the club yet even the Bosnian midfielder struggled during his last season with the club before being traded for Barcelona’s Arthur. Otherwise most off the signings range from the poor to the mediocre at best when assessing their quality and influence- Hernanes, Stefano Sturaro, Mario Lemina and Roberto Pereyra just to name a few.
4. Reality must prevail & a thorough plan must be applied
It is very easy to sit down and pretend the likes of Ramsey and Douglas Costa can demand a decent fee because it is well established that both players have had a number of fitness problems and they are already over 30-years-old.
What management must do is to sit down and carefully assess the profile of every squad member- the benefits of keeping such a player as opposed to selling him or loaning him out. Under the current economic climate, greatly affected by Covid-19, this will make matters even more difficult for the club.
Juve must strengthen the midfield with two quality signings- players who can retain possession but also pass forward and create as opposed to just passing sideways and backwards. In addition, Juve must sign on elite full-back. Danilo as a full-back was disappointing last season yet this campaign- under Andrea Pirlo- he has been consistent. The issue is Danilo is not playing as a full-back hence that could partially explain why he has become more consistent.
Juan Cuadrado has been deployed as a right-back but he turns 33 before the end of this season. The fact Cuadrado has been the club’s best full-back is a testimony to how mediocre Juve’s full-backs are. De Sciglio is on loan at Lyon, Danilo has been used more centrally and Alex Sandro has been in and out of the squad due to injury but he does seem like a player who is worn-out. Gianluca Frabotta is just 21-years-old and has the desire to improve but he is still far from a consistent or proven entity.
If this happens to be Fantasy Serie A football then one can surely offload Alex Sandro, Bonucci, Rabiot, Ramsey, Bentancur, Rugani, Douglas Costa and De Sciglio but reality says otherwise. It will not be easy to sell some of the names mentioned above.
Of course many Juve fans would also like to see Federico Bernardeschi gone; however, what the fans desire is not always something easy to implement. He is the perfect example of a player who has lost his way and seems to be playing without any confidence. The last match worthy of note for Bernardeschi happens to be the famous 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid when CR7 registered his emphatic hat-trick after being taunted in Madrid.
This summer will be a decisive one and most certainly some of the names mentioned above must be shown the exit door.