Operation Departures: Paratici’s Dilemma

After securing the signing of Matthijs de Ligt, many lauded Juventus’ mercato and showered their sporting director, Fabio Paratici, with praise. After all, they had just signed one of Europe’s elite young defenders, fighting off Barcelona and a host of other clubs in the process.

However, in recent weeks, in an effort to balance the books, Juventus have looked to offload their high-prized assets on the cheap. First, Moise Kean left for Everton with no buy-back clause inserted in the deal. Then, Joao Cancelo was off to Manchester City for 30 million euros and Danilo, after just a season in Turin. Now, the bianconeri’s top brass are actively listening to offers for their jewel, Paulo Dybala. 

With Financial Fair Play restrictions in place, clubs, at the very least, must show they are spending as much as they’re making; generally speaking. Following the signature of Cristiano Ronaldo and de Ligt, sales were always going to be necessary.

Factor in that Juventus haven’t progressed deep into the Champions League since making the final in 2017 missing out on crucial revenue, it’s clear players were going to be sold. Let’s not forget, the Turin-based giants also reported a significant financial operating loss in their last fiscal year. Fabio Paratici is the man largely responsible with dealing with this, largely through high-profile sales. 

While, in an ideal world, Paratici would find buyers for Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others, reality is a different beast altogether. Currently, all of these players are on the wrong side of 30 and are on massive wages in comparison to their output.

Many of them have got a host of offers, but have regularly refused to leave the club. And why should they? Most, if not all, of the offers received for the bianconeri’s wantaways include lower salaries at less prestigious clubs. This has forced Paratici’s hand in his first mercato at the helm and has dictated which players he can and cannot sell. Simply put, there’s a bigger buying market for Dybala than there is for Higuain, for example.

Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri recently alluded to this in a press conference.

As I said before, I can talk to Dybala all I like, but the market goes in a certain direction and my opinion counts for zero. We have to cut six players, that’s all there is to it,” said the former Napoli boss, as reported by Football Italia.

When thinking about Sarriball, you would expect Dybala to be one of the first names of the team-sheet. After a season in Massimiliano Allegri’s rigid setup, the Argentine could explode in a false-nine role. In Sarri’s first press conference at the club, the veteran tactician mentioned La Joya alongside Douglas Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo as players he was hoping to count on.

If Juventus are forced to sell Dybala this summer to balance the books, they will undoubtedly regret their decisions to hand Mandzukic and Khedira extensions while failing to definitively offload Higuain. Quite frankly, neither of these three players fit into Sarri’s tactics as well as Dybala does.

Sarri elaborated on this situation further and lashed out against Juventus’ current state.

It puts me in a difficult position. The last 20 days of the market will be difficult for us, it’s an embarrassing situation, because we risk having to leave out players of a very high level,” said Sarri.

It has also affected his pre-season preparation. Given the uncertainty surrounding the transfer window, Sarri has largely rotated between Higuain, Mandzukic and Dybala. Rather than sticking with one preferred front-line and implementing his mechanisms with them, Sarri has been forced to adapt. As a result, it may be long before we see Sarriball fully introduced in Turin.

With just over two weeks left to the mercato, it will be interesting to see who Juventus decide to move. Reports suggest Higuain will join Roma while Mandzukic favours a Bundesliga move. However, as we’ve seen, there are no guarantees and we can just as easily see, fan favourite, Dybala on his way out. Whether you like it or not, buckle your seat-belts Juventus fans, you’re in for a bumpy end to the summer transfer window.

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Douglas Costa wants to get back on track

Douglas Costa was interviewed by few outlets after the positive pre-season debut against Atletico Madrid: “I want to show my worth since several injuries prevented me from doing that last season. I am sure it will be a different campaign. I am a lot more careful about what I do off the pitch too: I am doing a lot of rehab because I want to be at 100 percent at all times. I think that there are all the premises for the marriage between me and Juventus to be successful.”

On Maurizio Sarri: “I am a very offensive player and his style is perfect for me. His plan is very stimulating for us forwards, since staying closer to the goal helps up perform better. We are tight and whoever deserves it the most will get playing time.”

On the new coaching style: “Sarri insists a lot on the intensity and on a high pressure. He is different from Massimiliano Allegri, with whom we had a lower center of gravity. He is changing the culture and we have been following him obediently. I have played under Pep Guardiola, who was very offensive-minded, then under Allegri, more conservative, and finally I am discovering Sarri now. Everything I learned before has to re-adapted to his football. He and Guardiola are similar in their core ideas, like the pressure, a high back-line, few and quick touches. However, Sarri is more focused on the defensive phase. They are different managers that have a similar philosophy.”

On the transfer market: “I have a nice relationship with Cristiano, I want to play next to him and help him score even more. I think there are a lot of top players here that could feature in any team. It is up to Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved to decide if somebody has to leave. If everybody stayed, we would give our best for the good of Juventus. It is a great club that always aims at winning every competition it partakes to.”

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Sarri admits some exits will be necessary

Coach Maurizio Sarri held the usual post-game presser after the 1-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the final International Champions Cup yesterday: “I leave rather satisfied, we have played a first half with a good level of technique, while it was hard to keep some order in the second one with all the substitutions, but I liked the attitude despite the different level of conditioning compared to the opponents. We are reintroduced Sami Khedira and Douglas Costa after five months. It is a work in progress, clearly the newcomers are a little behind in some reads. We should never concede a goal like the second one, but it is part of the job.” Continue reading

Cristiano returns, Traorè to Sassuolo and corporate news

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Blaise Matuidi have joined the rest of the squad in Turin after the extended vacation due to national team duties. The team will head to Asia next week for two International Champions Cup games, against Tottenham in Singapore on July 21st, versus Inter in Nanjing three days later, and then will face a K-League all-star in Seoul on July 26th. The press reported that Douglas Costa and Aaron Ramsey are not expected to take part to the tour to recover properly from a calf and thigh injury respectively.

Empoli president Fabrizio Corsi announced in mid-June that he had reached agreement with Juventus for the sale of Hamed Traorè, but the player will instead go immediately to Sassuolo on a two-year loan with obligation to buy from the Azzurri, skipping the middleman, meaning the formal purchase by the Bianconeri. The Neroverdi will pay €15M in 2021 and will receive some compensation if the Madama confirms the decision to acquire him then, which is pretty much how the Merih Demiral deal went down.  Continue reading

Three Juventus Players Set to Be Reborn Under Sarri

With the Massimiliano Allegri era officially over, the Juventus brass identified Maurizio Sarri as the man to lead the revolution at the club. While the past five seasons under Allegri were largely successful, there were clear signs of stagnation, especially amongst some of the side’s key performers. With the former Chelsea boss now at the helm, however, expect a rebirth of sorts for many of these players. Here are three Juventus men that are worth keeping an eye on going into the new season.

Alex Sandro (left back)  

When the Brazilian first joined the bianconeri, he was regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the world, and lived up to the hype early on offering some much needed offensive enterprise and flair from the left. However, over the course of the last two seasons, Alex Sandro’s progression has come to a screeching halt, and the former Porto man has looked a shade of his former self.

Luckily for the for the 28-year-old, Sarri tends to get the most out of his offensive fullbacks. At Napoli, Sarri’s tactical setup meant Faouzi Ghoulam played an important role in the final third, and reached a new level under the veteran tactician. Through the use of offensive overloads, Sarri’s fullbacks see plenty of the ball in the opposition’s half, and are seen as much more than mere defenders; a luxury that was not afforded to the Brazilian under Allegri.

At Chelsea, it was much of the same. Whether it was Marcos Alonso or Emerson, both defenders played an integral role in the final third, and progressed as players. Under Sarri, expect Alex Sandro to put his recent woes behind him and re-emerge as one of football’s elite left backs.

Paulo Dybala (attacking-midfielder)

Last season, the Argentine looked out of sorts whenever called upon, and regularly failed to impact proceedings under Allegri. Whether he was playing as the side’s main striker or on the wing, Dybala never fully looked like himself and had his worst season yet in bianconero, netting five goals in Serie A action. Much of this falls on Allegri’s pragmatic outlook, however, la Joya must assume some responsibility and soldier on in the upcoming season.

In Sarri’s first press conference, he quickly outlined that Dybala, alongside Ronaldo and Douglas Costa, will play a key role for him in the final third. At Napoli, the tactician got the best out of Lorenzo Insigne, Callejon and Higuain and turned them into the league’s most feared offensive trios. If his exploits with Insigne are anything to go by, a Napoli player most similar to Dybala, expect the Argentine international to have a big season in Turin.

While it’s still unclear where exactly Dybala will feature given Ronaldo’s presence, he will undoubtedly play a key role in Sarri’s progressive setup, and could finally focus on putting his creativity to use to open up opposition’s defences rather than tracking back. Big season ahead for Juventus’ crown jewel.

Douglas Costa (winger)

The Brazilian, much like Dybala, had a tumultuous season under Allegri riddled by injury problems, and disciplinary concerns. While it was recently reported that the former Bayern man is of interest to French giants PSG, Sarri quickly quashed those rumours and indicated the winger is someone he’s extremely keen on working with.

Given his electric nature, Douglas Costa will fit like a glove in Sarri’s 4-3-3 and will offer some much needed pace and unpredictability in the final third. However, there’s one concern: Sarri’s tactical scheme is one of rigidity and repetition, which may pose an issue to a mercurial player like Douglas Costa.

In any case, if Sarri is able to bridge that gap and demonstrate to him the merits of his setup, expect Douglas Costa to be on his A game next year and torment defences.

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Douglas Costa wants to stay and Emerson quashes Juventus rumours

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Douglas Costa gave a video interview today and seemed quite sure he will stick around despite the transfer market rumours: “I do not know Maurizio Sarri personally but I have seen him work in Naples. He had a fantastic season my first hear in Italy, I think we will do great things with him. I am not super familiar with Aaron Ramsey either because I follow Serie A way more than Premier League, but he must be a great player if Juventus decided to sign him. The management does not sign average footballers. I have three years left on my contract and I am convinced I will stay. Now everything is new after the coaching change, so I will stay.” Continue reading

Allegri addresses the media before the Inter tilt

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Massimiliano Allegri held the traditional pre-game presser today: “We do not feel scrutinized. We had a good game in Ferrara, Juventus-Inter is always important. We will play in front of 70k people in a marvelous stadium, we will try to do our best to come away with a satisfying result. We can not have gaffes, we are Juventus, we aim to make more points and have some stimulating fixtures coming up.”

On the meeting with Andrea Agnelli: “Our motivation will be the same as previous years. We will plan to create new goals growing-wise for everybody involved and to be as competitive as we should be. We will analyze what went well and what poorly. You need to evaluate the seasons properly in order to lay the foundations to be successful in the future. We have not set a date, there have been some holidays after the Fiorentina game. We are already ahead of schedule since we usually sat down in June.” Continue reading

Juve’s UCL elimination financial ramifications & injury updates

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As expected, the ever-fluctuating stock exchange did not take lightly to Juventus’ early elimination from the Champions League: yesterday, after opening down by 25%, the stocks have closed with a 17,63% dip and the club lost €300M of capitalization, which is now at €1.41B. They crashed down from the historical high registered on Monday, €1.7 per share, to €1.39. They are still losing value today, but at a slower rate.

The team will bring in €94M from the Champions League prize pool, which is larger than in previous seasons, but missed out on at least €16M more in case they advanced to the semifinals (€10-12M from UEFA, €5-6M of ticket earnings) and about double that if they made all the way to the final. However, it still represents the second richest haul in the club’s history after the 2016/2017 record. The overall revenue will take a hit too and, while still projected to grow, they are unlikely to reach the €500M-mark and should stop a €455M. Continue reading

Allegri previews Juventus v SPAL

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Massimiliano Allegri met the journalists earlier today, giving few hints about the lineup: “I will evaluate after today’s practice, but I think many of the starters will rest. Some others need to play and this will be the right game for them. Some may not even be called up. Few youngsters will have the opportunity to be with us. We have an all-important game on Tuesday that will close this current cycle and could allow us to advance to the semifinals.”

On Ferrara: “It would be nice to celebrate there, they are moving towards their second straight successful campaign in Serie A. They renovated the stadium and it is a beautiful city where you breath history, passion and enthusiasm. Whoever ends up playing will have to do well in order to grab one or three points because they are good at home.” Continue reading

Juventus Top Performers – UCL quarterfinal first leg

Ajax v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg

A rather uninspiring Juventus display in Amsterdam still led to a positive result ahead of the second leg.

Daniele Rugani: something close to a coming out party for the young defender, who did not shake in his boots in his first Champions League elimination game and was very precise in most of his reads despite adversaries putting the back-line under intense pressure. It is always recommendable to have Giorgio Chiellini in any kind of scenario, but this is not the worst match-up for Rugani’s skillset. Leonardo Bonucci had a pretty clean performance too, but that is what is expected from him. Continue reading