Nedved confident on the team and vigilant on the market

Pavel Nedved talked to the press today filling in for Maurizio Sarri: “As you know, the coach is recovering from pneumonia, but we felt it was fair for you to have somebody who can field some questions. He will return after the break. It was an issue that needed to be tackled seriously and we had to take certain steps. He is a worker and would have liked to be on the pitch and in his office all day long. He is feeling better though. There have been some difficulties, it is obviously better to always have the coach on the bench, but we have gone through something similar in 2012/2013 with Antonio Conte.” Continue reading

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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Paratici keeps it close to the vest on the transfer market

Juventus main official Fabio Paratici talked to Sky Sport after the usual intra-squad friendly at Villar Perosa: “There are a lot of talks in these days of negotiations, but then not a lot of business really gets made. We are serene and confident. It is a great day to be here with our people, this is the Juventus equivalent of Christmas.”

On some players potentially on their way out: “The Champions League list has precise parameters and neither the coach or I can change that. We have just one local player this year compared to the previous ones, so we will have to let somebody go to have a 22-man squad. Marko Pjaca and Mattia Perin are unlikely to leave because of their long-term injuries, while Luca Pellegrini is headed to Cagliari.” Continue reading

Opinion: Juventus could still use Higuain’s services

After addressing the midfield and the centre-back positions in the first month of the transfer market, Juventus management will now shift focus to untangling the logjam in the attack. Coach Maurizio Sarri has carried on with 4-3-3 and, with Cristiano Ronaldo pegged as left winger, there are four men who can play as centre-forward on the roster. So inevitably at least one of the centre-forwards will have to head elsewhere.

The pairing of Paulo Dybala and Moise Kean would be the ideal landing spot after all the maneuvering, mainly due to age and potential-related reasons. Continue reading

Sarri, Bernardeschi and Rabiot react to the Tottenham friendly

juvetottenham

Maurizio Sarri gave multiple soundbites to Sportitalia and Sky after the friendly against Tottenham: “It was a difficult game for us, against a team that has had the same group for years and that has a different level of physical preparation right now. They looked faster and more explosive in the second half, but it is normal at this stage. If we want to play our football, we have to improve in defending higher on the pitch, because in the first 30 minutes we tracked back too much and therefore counter-attacking was complicated. We moved the ball better after the break, we had 20 quality minutes, scoring twice. We were naïve on some lost balls, which generated the goals.” Continue reading

Serie A Weekly Transfer Market Recap and Ended Loans

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The last week prior to the official start of the transfer market was understandably quiet: Sampdoria pulled off the most interesting move by adding another talented youngster, Gonzalo Maroni from Boca Juniors, who can feature in few positions up front and has the potential to be electric. Genoa made a sizeable investment to have Andrea Pinamonti from Inter, who had a very promising rookie season in Frosinone and is set to be their featured guy up front moving forward. Fiorentina are giving the keys to their goal to Barlomiej Dragowki, who blossomed in Empoli last season, and thus sent Alban Lafont to Nantes on a two-year loan. Sassuolo permanently signed left back Rogerio from Juventus after the 18-month loan, Brescia did the same with Ales Mateju, who belonged to Brighton.

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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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Juventus announce Sarri as their new coach

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It took longer than anticipated, but Juventus finally have their new coach: former Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, who has reportedly penned a three-year, €18M contract. Sarri is coming off a third-placed finish with the Blues and recently won the first trophy of his career by beating Arsenal in the Europa League final. It took a small financial compensation in order to release him from his deal with the English club. Despite the relative success of his tenure, Sarri butted heads with the players and the management and was never embraced by the fans during his time in London and at some point was at risk of being axed mid-season. Continue reading

Matthaus links Rodriguez to Juventus and Higuain’s future update

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Lothar Matthaus revealed in an interview to AS Colombia that he believes James Rodriguez will move to Old Lady after chatting with the player: “I met him during the celebration for the last Bayern title and talked about everything, from Colombia to the history of football. I think he will join Juventus: he is very close with Cristiano Ronaldo, they are in touch and the Portuguese would like to bring him to Turin. James is a great assist man and they do brilliant things together.” Rodriguez will leave Bundesliga as the club did not pick the €45M option to buy him, so it will be up to Real Madrid to decide his future. He has often been linked to the Madama in the past, but in recent weeks he appeared way closer to Napoli, which is helmed by his former coach Carlo Ancelotti. He scored 15 times and provided 20 helpers in 67 apperances in the last two years in Germany. Continue reading

Gonzalo Higuain’s Chelsea struggles continue with limp display against Manchester United

In the end, it was a good result for Chelsea. A 1-1 draw against Manchester United keeps the Blues three points ahead of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in sixth spot, while they also hold a two-point advantage over Arsenal in fifth.

With two games left to play, Chelsea know that their Champions League fate is in their own hands. Victories over Watford on Sunday and Leicester City on the final day of the campaign would guarantee a top-four finish, and a return of four points from those two encounters could also be enough given their superior goal difference.

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