Mauro Icardi to Juventus: The Pros and the Cons

Recently it’s been reported that Juventus are heavily interested in Inter forward Mauro Icardi and will turn their attention to the Argentine forward after wrapping up their deal for Matthijs de Ligt. The 26-year-old has fallen out with the nerrazzurri, and is no longer in Antonio Conte’s plans for the upcoming season.

Inter sporting director Giuseppe Marotta recently went as far as proclaiming this in the media. In an interview, Marotta said: “When building a project, you have to find the right profiles. Both players (Icardi and Nainggolan) know full well they are not part of our plans.” 

While these comments may drop the striker’s valuation, it indicates one thing: Inter are prioritizing the squad over individuals. However, these claims do open up an avenue for a bargain for Juventus; but is Icardi worth it?

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On one hand, Icardi is one of the most lethal strikers in the world and can hurt the opposition with limited touches. Much like Cristiano Ronaldo, the Argentine doesn’t need many opportunities to score, and is proven at the European level as well. In this sense, pairing him with Ronaldo could prove to be a masterstroke, especially with Paulo Dybala pulling the strings behind them.

If Sarri plans on alternating between a 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2, two formations he’s used throughout his managerial career, the move for Icardi makes plenty of sense. However, if the former Chelsea tactician plans on going with one striker, Icardi’s arrival will undoubtedly stunt the growth of Moise Kean; something Juventus can ill afford. Kean is one of the peninsula’s most highly-rated forwards and the bianconeri will be looking to make him a centrepiece of the side for years to come.

In a two-striker formation, however, there will be plenty of time to go around for Ronaldo, Icardi and Kean. Meanwhile, Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey are all capable of playing behind them as the side’s trequartista. As a whole, that’s an elite front-line, which unlike this past season, compliments each other.

On the other side of the debate, Icardi has typically been a negative locker room influence, and resorts to off-field antics when things don’t go his way. When he was stripped of the Inter captaincy, the Argentine sidelined himself with many dubious injuries and refused to train. Then, of course, there’s his agent and wife, Wanda Nara. Nara’s influence on Icardi over the years has only grown and she has shown no regard for Inter this past season.

Much like Icardi, Nara is quick to voice her discontent in public and often plays games on social media. The main fear is that this divisive duo may disrupt the harmony in Juventus’ locker room. With that being said, Icardi has never been part of a team with real leaders, and in Torino, he will have to answer to Gianluigi Buffon, Cristiano Ronaldo and Giorgio Chiellini among others. Rather than being tasked with leading the team like he was at Inter, Icardi’s sole focus will be on scoring goals.

The move to Juventus will also represent much more for Icardi. As Inter’s fiercest rivals, the former Sampdoria man will be joining the bianconeri with a point to prove. It’s not every day that one of the best strikers in the world is outcasted from a new coach’s plans. This chip on his shoulder will undoubtedly spur him to new heights and let’s not forget, Juventus have a decent track record with difficult characters. See: Carlos Tevez.

While Icardi has zero goals in open play in 2019, a red flag of its own, a lot of his poor form can be attributed to the fallout between him and Inter. Once he makes the switch, expect to see an eager and refreshed Icardi.

In terms of price, Inter are reportedly looking for 70 million euros for their star striker. However, due to Marotta’s recent comments, Juventus are confident they can close the deal for much less. If reports are to be believed, the Italian champions will soon table a bid in and around the 40-45 million euro range, and will look to close the deal closer to that mark than Inter’s valuation.

Considering the situation and Icardi’s willingness to join Juventus, the bianconeri would be foolish not to make a move. The Argentine is available cheaply, and is an elite number nine that could propel them to the next level. When presented with this type of opportunity on the mercato, you take it. Ronaldo has shown no signs of slowing down, but he won’t be able to lead the Juventus front-line forever either while the 26-year-old is frankly in his prime. Icardi’s arrival, in this sense, works both in the long-run and in the short-term. There’s a reason these rumours have emerged as much more than pure conjuncture. With the ball firmly in their court, Juventus are a few sales away from making Icardi to Juve a reality.

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Are Juventus simply going to steamroll Serie A once again?

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The Serie A season will be starting next month and it is hard to look past Juventus in winning the league yet again. The Old Lady have won it 8 times in a row starting in 2012 and their dominance has been quite bewildering.

In that time Napoli who have not won the competition since 1990 and the days of Diego Maradona have come runners up 4 times and 3 of those of those have been in the last four seasons.

Juventus don’t just turn up and win of course and they have simply been brilliant over this decade, playing great football and working hard for their wins. But they have not faced a great challenge as the 2010′s have been a real struggle for Italian teams.

In the Champions League the decade started off brightly as Inter Milan won the competition in 2010, but that has been Italy’s only success. Juventus did make the final in 2015 and 2017 only to be beaten by Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

But this Juventus side going into the 2019/20 season look superior in every way shape and form to any of their rivals and a 9th title in a row looks odds on.

They have Cristiano Ronaldo of course, who in his debut season scored 21 goals in 31 league games and 28 goals overall. He ages of course and is now 34, but this Ronaldo, super fit and super determined and he will be an integral part of the first team in the new season.

What is brand new is their coach in Maurizio Sarri, known as the coach that keeps on failing and smoking Sarri had a brilliant debut season for Chelsea in the Premier League and won the club the Europa League and came 3rd in the league. But Sarri and Chelsea never really got on and Sarri now returns to his home country with the best team.

Juventus are after Matthijs de Ligt and are the favourites to sign the Ajax defender. It almost looks certain he will join the side, then again this is football and you never know, but if Juve can secure his services that will be major.

Juventus have also dipped into getting a British player, this is rare for the side and in comes Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, his style of holding play is thought to be perfect for Juventus. The problem for Ramsey is he was secured under a different coach and now he will have to impress Sarri to play regular games.

Gianluigi Buffon was a surprise return to the team. He will play as back up goal keeper no doubt with a future role as a goal keeping coach more or less secured within the ranks of the club. The legend is coming home and that is good enough for the fans. And Adrien Rabiot who when given a chance for PSG always seemed to be a threat has joined from them. Initially it is on a free, but with performance the forward could end up costing Juventus around 10m euros.

All in all Juventus have spent close to 50m euros,well within their budget and if de Ligt does come that would raise their spending to around 115m euros, fairly ok for such a huge team. Now it is over to Napoli and Roma and perhaps even the Milan teams, just who will be able to challenge Juventus this season?

Juventus hire new youth coaches plus various tidbits

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On top of replacing Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus also moved on from the coaches of the U23 and the U19 team, Mauro Zironelli and Francesco Baldini, and filled those spots in the last seven days.

Fabio Pecchia was appointed as the boss of the Serie C squad: as a player, he spent a year at Juventus in 1997/1998, while after retiring he managed Gubbio and Latina and then became Rafa Benitez’s lead assistant at Napoli, Real Madrid and Newcastle, before re-assuming the top position at Hellas Verona, where he got promoted to Serie A and then relegated in back-to-back campaigns. He was in Japan at Avispa Fukuoka last season. Continue reading

Juventus considering bringing back Buffon

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Yesterday night, few outlets broke the news about Gianluigi Buffon possibly coming back to Juventus a year after his departure and his agent Silvano Martina promptly addressed the matter to Sportmediaset: “It would be nice if such opportunity materialized. It is possible that the Bianconeri have considered him if Mattia Perin left. He is 42 but he is still fine physically, he likes to play and challenge himself. If there will be this opportunity, I am sure he will evaluate it with pleasure. We have not reached any agreement yet. It is just a thought, we would have never believed it could be in the cards. I have heard that he would be the second highest paid player behind Cristiano Ronaldo, but that it is nonsense. It would be a pleasant operation if it went through, but it is only at its preliminary stages.” Continue reading

Bernardeschi opens up and Buffon weighs in on Juventus matters

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Federico Bernardeschi continues to be one of the most talkative players and his interview to Fashion Illustrated was published yesterday: “I became a man at Juventus, one that tries to learn and improve every day. The passion for football is innate. I was told that I was already chasing after the ball at three, it was love at first sight and I can consider myself lucky now since my job is my greatest passion and enjoyment. I am interested in fashion and music too.”

On his career: “When I was eight, I commuted almost every day to practice in the Empoli’s youth academy. My parents and I made big sacrifices. I saw it as something entertaining, but it was a lot of travel. Continue reading

Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Alphonse Areola

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At the start of the season PSG’s number 1 goalkeeper Alphonse Areola would have taken a look around and gulped nervously a little when he saw that his club had just brought in Gianluigi Buffon from Juventus. While Buffon was 40 years old he is still regarded as a goalkeeping legend and as it turned out Areola had every right to be worried.

True Areola started the majority of games in the league for PSG but only just. Areola played 21 games to Buffon’s 17. Still the return was very good from Areola who produced 11 clean sheets from his 21 played.

In terms of a successful season, it can’t get much better as PSG won the league with ease, and in theory started to wrap up the title by the Christmas period. They finished on 91 points a cool 16 points in front of Lille and it would have been much more had the team not faltered towards the end once the league was wrapped up.

Areola’s value coming into this season was 6.5m and he finished 3rd in the European Fantasy League rankings for Ligue 1 goalkeepers, 29 points behind Nice’s Walter Benitez. Areola finished on 62 points and conceded 17 goals, his disciplinary was excellent with just 1 yellow card all season.

Areola did not start scoring points until his 3rd game of the season because PSG even though they won his first two games they kept conceding. His fortunes swiftly changed though and he went on a 5 game run without conceding a goal starting against Saint Etienne in mid September and running through until mid November. He earned a huge 35 points in that period where the bulk of his total points came from.

His worst game of the season was when PSG needed just 1 more win to secure the Ligue 1 title. Of course because of their massive lead in the league it was only a matter of time but it simply wasn’t coming. PSG had to play 2nd placed Lille away and Lille were up for a game that PSG didn’t really need to win, in the end and with full credit to Lille they inflicted PSG’s biggest loss of the season beating the champions 5-1. This in turn meant that Areola record -8 points for the game.

Just under 30% of his games ended where he didn’t score a point and his last game was the penultimate match of the season against Dijon where PSG ran out 4-0 winners and for that he got 7 points. He did not play in PSG’s final game of the season against Reims where Buffon was chosen instead, in a game that PSG eventually lost.

In the 2017/18 season Areola scored 103 points so this is a comedown for the goalkeeper although he will argue and rightly so that he wasn’t given enough games to prove his worth. Next season will be interesting. Will PSG stay with him in goal as their number 1 or will they opt to invest in another player?

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Four possible summer transfers for Barcelona

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There’s still three weeks to go before the summer transfer window officially opens, but that hasn’t stopped all of the major European clubs either announcing deals or positioning themselves to do so as soon as it hits midnight on June 30.

Barcelona have already secured Frenkie De Jong from Ajax, and after a string of world class performances since the announcement was made, it already looks like the Catalans are getting a bargain, and a player who is ready made for their midfield.

He won’t be the only new player to ply his trade at the Camp Nou next season, however, so let’s take a look at four more who are being rumoured to be wearing Blaugrana in 2019/20. Continue reading

Cancelo comments on injury and teammates, Buffon speaks and Juventus ten year challenge

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Joao Cancelo recently spoke about the injury and the surgery that sidelined him for a month to Sky Sport: “It was a tough moment, I was fine both physically and mentally, but I tried to stay engaged by working hard to recover as soon as possible to help my teammates.”

On Cristiano Ronaldo: “We are close, he is a true champions, the best in the world in my opinion. He certainly improved the level of Juventus. He gives us a big hand on the pitch and truly makes a difference, that is why they signed.” Continue reading

Scuffet Moves To Turkey To Revitalize Career

Once dubbed Gianluigi Buffon’s heir after breaking onto the scene as an unknown 17-year-old in 2014, Simone Scuffet now finds himself joining Turkish side Kasimpasa on loan until the end of the season. After a relatively rough start to the year as Udinese’s number one, the young goalkeeper was usurped by new arrival Juan Musso for the starting position, and has since been reduced to a bench role. In fact, Scuffet hasn’t featured for the Zebrette since a 3-0 loss to Napoli at the end of October.

With playing time hard to come by, Scuffet decided a change of scenery was needed and is now closing in on a loan move to regain some much needed match fitness and more importantly, confidence. While the keeper has demonstrated glimpses of his promise over the course of the last few seasons, continuity has been hard to come by thus far, and he will need to find consistency in Turkey if he is to deliver on the hype.

Continue reading

Buffon returns on his farewell and Bernardeschi discusses being at Juventus

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Gianluigi Buffon participated to the TV show Tiki Taka and added some tidbits about his departure from Juventus, confirming it was a mutual decision: “I miss it, I do not want to say that it was my whole life, but it was certainly an important part of it. I lived it for 20 years, spending every ounce of sweat for the cause. However, there are moments when it is right look each other in the eyes, realize that it is time for something new and hug it out.”

“I understood it was over while talking amicably with the president, after such a long and stressful period, because being a Juventus player and captain wears you down even though it is an honor. Continue reading