Three Players Juventus Should Sign in The Summer

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With Juventus on the brink of Champions League elimination after a number of unimpressive performances, it’s time for a squad overhaul. While Aaron Ramsey is a good start at addressing their woeful midfield, the Welshman alone will not be enough to propel the bianconeri to European glory. In defence, Juventus’ core is getting old with Leonardo Bonucci showing signs of wear and tear. Daniele Rugani, by contrast, has frankly not lived up to the hype and has proven to be nothing more than a luxury option off the bench. Up top, on the other hand, it’s time Juventus sign a young, link-up target man, as Dybala, Ronaldo and Mandzukic have been an awkward fit for one another. Here are three players Paratici should have at the top of his wish-list.

1) Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

Matthijs de Ligt needs no introduction and is without a doubt Europe’s top young defender at the moment. If you look up the definition of leader in the dictionary, the young Dutchman’s face will pop up. After having won the Golden Boy award in 2018, becoming the first defender to ever win the award, de Ligt has gone from strength to strength.

Right now, de Ligt is Ajax’s rock at the back, and is captaining the side deep into the Champions League, past European supergiants and reigning champions Real Madrid. Just last month, the 19-year-old became the youngest ever player to captain his side in a Champions League knockout clash, and has not looked one bit out of place.

While competition for the defender’s signature will be at an all-time high, Paratici and co. must go all out and sign de Ligt. If it takes 80 million euros, then so be it. With Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli on the wrong side of 30, it’s time to refresh their backline, and what better place to start than with de Ligt. Despite his age, the Dutchman is arguably already in the top ten defenders in the world, and must emerge as a priority for the bianconeri. Otherwise, Juventus’ elite defence of the past will become nothing but a distant memory.

2) Tanguy NDombele (Lyon)

For the past two seasons, Juventus’ midfield has held the side back in Europe’s elite competition and cannot be ignored come summertime. With Ramsey already on his way on a bosman transfer, Lyon’s Tanguy NDombele would be an ideal fit alongside Juventus’ current options.

NDombele is a one-man midfield, and has consistently proven he can cut it at the highest level, especially in Lyon’s most recent clash against Barcelona. Much like de Ligt,the Lyon midfielder does not let his inexperience seep into his play, and largely dominates proceedings as if he’s a seasoned veteran in the middle of the park.

Alongside Ramsey and Pjanic, the Frenchman would be able to express himself freely and offer some much needed creativity without sacrificing industry. Right now, Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can have looked out of place in Allegri’s setup, and have proven to be far too limited for elite football.

Considering Paratici will have to deal with notorious negotiator, Lyon president and French businessman Jean-Michel Aulas, it won’t be easy. In any case, NDombele is Juventus’ best option to rebuild their midfield, both in the short-term and in the long-run.

3) Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 

This one is a bit trickier for Paratici. Safe to say, Ronaldo hasn’t yet blended in with Mandzukic and Dybala, despite his impressive goalscoring record, and Juventus require an all-round support striker to get the best out of him. At Real Madrid, Benzema acted as the Portuguese superstar’s foil.

With Mandzukic showing signs of slowing down, it may be time for Juventus to start looking at younger options up top. Since making the switch to Germany, Jovic has improved all aspects of his game and has developed into a real force to be reckoned with, scoring 21 goals and registering five assists in all competitions.

With Jovic alongside Ronaldo and Dybala behind them, whoever’s at the helm of Juventus, could recreate Zidane’s blueprint at Real Madrid and get the side scoring freely again. While it may not be an immediate need, Juventus will not have Ronaldo forever and must make the most of his presence while he’s in Turin. Jovic would go a long way in this respect.

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Lautaro showing signs of promise despite cutting an isolated figure

Lautaro-Martinez

“I’m happy because I’m scoring regularly, but now we need to continue to work with our heads down and try to win our next match. I feel like I’m an important part of this group, but not because I’m playing now: when I was sitting on the bench I was helping the team. My job is to help the team to get the results that we deserve. I now need to stay focused because I’m playing from the first minute more frequently. Just one game away from suspension? I always take to the pitch with a sense of calm. Given what we’re going through at the moment, I need to be careful.” Continue reading

Four Talking Points Ahead of Napoli’s Clash with Juventus

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Stars collide on Sunday in Naples at the Stadio San Paolo as Juventus and Napoli will author another chapter in their heated rivalry.

Back in late September, the Partenopei, led by Carlo Ancelotti, leapt out of the gates early with a Dries Mertens strike 10 minutes into proceedings in Turin. From there on however, ‘the Old Lady’ established dominance once again over their league rivals, as Mario Mandžukić equalized then grabbed the lead before Leonardo Bonucci put the bow on the victory with Juve’s third in the final quarter-hour.

Entering this tie, the Bianconeri hold a firm grasp of first place with a 13 point advantage over Napoli and sit in pole position to make it eight straight Serie A titles. Despite that, Ancelotti men will press on and look to exact revenge from earlier in the season against a Juventus side hoping to catch fire again after a rough patch of form.

Here are four talking points ahead of Napoli vs Juventus: Continue reading

New Contract, Rejuvenated Alex Sandro

Earlier this week, Juventus reported that Brazilian fullback Alex Sandro signed a new and improved contract tying him down to the club until 2023. Until that point, Alex Sandro had been a shade of his former self and struggled for consistency down the left-hand side, with his teammate Joao Cancelo stealing much of the spotlight on the opposing wing.

There was also strong rumours coming from England linking the player with a move to the Premier League, with both Manchester clubs interested. Today against Roma, the 27-year-old put the rumours to bed and gave the Juventus faithful a glimpse of what they’ve been missing for the past season or so, marauding the left flank with ease.

With much of the focus on Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, Alex Sandro got forward to devastating effect and had the first real chance of the game. However, Roma keeper Robin Olsen got down nicely to parry it to safety from in close. The former Porto man would not stop there and continued his impressive performance by dribbling past the Roma midfield on another occasion. Sandro would carve out just enough space for himself inside the box to fire a powerful shot destined for the top corner. Again, however, Olsen proved to be a worthy match. Powering his way through the opposing defence it was clear Sandro was back to his very best.

Continue reading

Spalletti: “The PSV match is the most important one since I’ve been here”

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Earlier this afternoon, Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference at the Suning Training Centre ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial UEFA Champions League group stage match against reigning Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven. Here is what the 59-year-old Tuscan said to the journalists in attendance: “This match is the most important one since I’ve been here and it represents the next step that follows on from Lazio vs. Inter on 20 May. Since I’ve been here, we’ve got the points and put in the performances that we needed. Now, we’re here to play for a spot in the last 16 on the final day of the group stage. Continue reading

Spalletti deserves criticism for handing initiative to Juventus in Derby d’Italia

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“It’s unfortunate that we lost, but we were the team that had the bigger chances during the game. But this is Juventus’s strength: we more than matched them, but they know how to fully capitalise on their opportunities. We didn’t manage to find the back of the net, however. We could have got a better result tonight, but we’ll try to take good heart from the good things we did tonight: on Tuesday evening, we have to win at San Siro in front of our fans, who are always fantastic.” Continue reading

Spalletti: “We did well for long spells, but we’re still too careless at times”

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Luciano Spalletti was understandably frustrated by the manner in which his Inter side were defeated 1-0 by Juventus in tonight’s showpiece Derby d’Italia at Allianz Stadium in Turin. Indeed, the 59-year-old Tuscan made it perfectly clear to the media after the match that he was not satisfied with the way his players handled themselves during the crucial moments, particularly during the second half. Here is what he said: “We did quite well in the game, the team played some great football but we got things wrong at certain times which cannot happen against Juventus. Continue reading

Spalletti: “We’ll face Juventus with courage and determination”

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Ahead of tonight’s Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter, Nerazzurri coach Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference yesterday afternoon. The 59-year-old Tuscan was full of praise for the Bianconeri and the way in which they have continually strengthened their squad over the course of the past few years. Here is what he had to say to the gathered journalists at the Suning Training Centre: Continue reading

Why Inter must take a proactive approach against Juventus on Friday night

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“I would absolutely not be content with a point at the Juventus Stadium. We go there to play it without fear, as that must be the mentality of a sportsman.” Those were the words of Inter captain Mauro Icardi in response to a question about the Nerazzurri’s plan of attack ahead of Friday night’s crucial Derby d’Italia against the Bianconeri. Continue reading

Khedira’s extension is latest sign of Allegri’s power at Juventus

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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.