Whether Sami Khedire should have received an extension or not isn’t the subject of this article, but this event show how much Massimiliano Allegri‘s influence has grown at Juventus in the past few years.
When you think of all the skepticism surrounding the Tuscan manager when he was appointed to replace Antonio Conte back in the summer of 2014, it’s quite remarkable to think that you can make a great case that Juventus’ mantra when it comes to the squad has almost shifted from “the player’s will” to “what Allegri wants, Allegri gets”. Not bad for a manager that was greeted by rocks thrown at his car when he arrived at his first training session with the team.
But before we get to Khedira, let’s start with one of the two most shocking transfers in recent memory in Serie A involving the same player…
After Leonardo Bonucci was sent to the stands for an important Champions League match against Porto because of disciplinary reasons, Juventus sided with their manager rather than a player who was supposed to lead their back line after Buffon, Chiellini and Barzagli retired- the bianconeri’s management team didn’t even attempt to dissude Bonucci to stay when he indicated he was ready to move on to Milan mainly because he didn’t get along with his manager.
Once Bonucci realized he made a mistake embracing Milan’s uncertain project, he had to overcome one big hurdle before being able to return to Turin- he had to get back in Max Allegri’s good graces.
The rift between the two had started to heal the previous fall when he was included in the FIFA Football Award ceremony in London, Bonucci in fact told Allegri he was one of the reasons he was selected as one of the two center backs- the drama finally ended this summer after a conversation between the two, once Juventus’ management team felt comfortable Allegri would accept Bonucci back into the squad they pulled the trigger on the deal with Milan that also featured Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara.
After leading Juventus’ to four consecutive Serie A titles and two Champions League finals, Max Allegri’s reputation had improved so much that he was one of Florentine Perez’ first choices to replace Zinedine Zidane this summer- but Allegri decided to stay in Turin since he felt he had unfinished business.
This development had a significant impact on two players on the bianconeri’s squad who are often vilified by the club’s fans. Mario Mandzukic had received substantial interest from Chinese clubs as well as Manchester United, in addition his position at Juventus seemed even more precarious once the deal for Cristiano Ronaldo was completed.
Many Juventus fans were already dreaming of a trident featuring CR7, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa which made Mandzukic almost an after thought. But Max Allegri’s decision to stay in Turin made the Croatian striker once again a key player for the bianconeri, especially after the Tuscan manager had reinvented him as a winger- his new found versatility, in addition to his work rate, make him a very strong asset to Ronaldo as he’s getting acclimated to Serie A.
While Mandzukic‘ strong performances in the World Cup and undeniable “grinta”, a staple of Juventus’ brand, make him a bit more palatable to a segment of Juventus’ fanbase, the same cannot said about Sami Khedira.
In a world where so many rate players based on statistics and watch games on television where positioning and tactical sense are harder to appreciate, Khedira is about as popular as Joffrey in Game of Thrones- but to Max Allegri he’s an indispensable player in his midfield.
While many expected Khedira to leave Turin this summer especially after Emre Can arrived, the opposite happened- he signed an extension making him one of the highest paid players on the team.
If that weren’t enough, Allegri took a clear shot at those who criticize the German international during a recent pre match press conference by saying “Many only see football matches rather than actually watch them, there’s a reason Khedira has been a constant starter with all the managers in his career”- a few days later, Sami Khedira’s extension became official and he was even the team captain for match while Chiellni rested.
While few can argue with Allegri’s tactical acumen, with the match against Valencia being his latest masterpiece, the jury is still out on his player personnel decisions- but one thing is for certain, at the moment what Allegri wants, Allegri gets at Juventus.