Can Juventus land Barcelona pair?


The news which broke last week came as a shock. Fresh from winning their second consecutive double double thanks to Alvaro Morata’s Coppa Italia winner, Juventus were on the transfer prowl. Their target? Barcelona. Rumoured with a switch to Turin are Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano.

Juventus have already spoken of their collective desire to advance in the Champions League next season. And they have identified the areas required to strengthen to assist that desire.

The club has already spoken about the summer plans. There won’t be a revolution, but an evolution of the squad. They are set to lose Juan Cuadrado, only on loan from Chelsea. A long-time favourite of Antonio Conte, the Colombian is expected to be utilised by the incoming Chelsea boss at Stamford Bridge. That leaves Juve needing a player on the right flank. Meanwhile, Claudio Marchisio’s injury ensures Juve are on the hunt for another central midfielder capable of controlling the play.

In midfield, Roma’s Miralem Pjanic is a target. But there’s a focus on Spain, where Valencia’s Andre Gomes has been linked and the talk surrounding Mascherano – and Alves – has created a stir. Securing the Argentine’s signature is the more complicated deal. Barca are said to want upwards of €20m to budge on a player they aren’t exactly willing to let go, but who may want a move. If Juve were to land Mascherano they would have in their possession one of European football’s most intelligent players and an already formidable midfield would turn up a notch.

Alves is a different scenario. Should he sign before June 5, it can be done on a free transfer thanks to a clause in the 33-year-old’s contract. Juventus have Stephan Lichtsteiner, but without Cuadrado will need another body on the right-hand side. And there’s few better than the Brazilian. He is a vastly experienced player and three-time Champions League winner. What could be hard to match is the x-factor Cuadrado provided, as one of the few in the Juve squad who could create a game-changing moment from very little. Yet Alves has proved himself over a number of years.

Signing one, or both Barcelona players, would be shrewd working from the Bianconeri. A side which has shown it can compete on the continent during the past two seasons, this would help them take the next step.

Juventus would be complementing an already strong squad – littered with younger talents – with experienced heads still capable of competing at the top level. That would only make facing Juve a scarier prospect.

Could Barcelona manager Luis Enrique deploy Javier Mascherano in midfield for Real Madrid clash?

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Barcelona travel to the Santiago Bernabeu to face fierce rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish La Liga this weekend, and manager Luis Enrique could look to the returning Javier Mascherano to play at the heart of the side to nullify the threat of the opposition. As the travelling side, Barcelona could well settle for a share of the spoils against Real Madrid in order to maintain their top spot in the table, so could Mascherano be brought in to grind out a result?

Currently three points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid in the Spanish La Liga table, Barcelona will finish the weekend at the summit if they can avoid defeat at the Bernabeu, and manager Luis Enrique won’t be too complacent to assume his side can get all three points in Real’s backyard. Barcelona have started the new season very strongly, and boast the most potent attack in Europe, but would rather maintain their lead over Real rather than lose to their rivals by trying to win. Barcelona are being tipped by many to win this weekend‘s El Clasico, but Enrique knows these fixtures can be catastrophic to lose.

And with a very unfit Lionel Messi potentially in line to start in the Barcelona attack, the Spanish giants may look to Mascherano to provide protection at the heart of the midfield. The Argentine is one of the best holding midfielders in the world, and is a real combative threat to any opposing player. He was at his best in the 2014 World Cup, playing a key role in an Argentina side that kept five clean sheets as they reached the final. Enrique has an out-of-form and not-match-fit Ivan Rakitic and inconsistent Sergio Roberto as other options, which is also why the experienced and trusty Mascherano might get the nod.

Last season, Barcelona lost to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, but have won three of their last four league meetings. With the Catalans having lost to Real in this fixture back in 2014/15, coupled with a new-found defensive stability under manager Rafael Benitez, Real are a force to be reckoned with. Many still have their qualms over their playing style, but Enrique knows his counterpart would likely settle for a draw as he would. Supporters want an entertaining spectacle, and it’s worth noting that only two of the last 16 meetings have ended as a stalemate, so the fans might not welcome a draw.

So could Barcelona manager Luis Enrique look to Javier Mascherano in the midfield for this weekend’s Real Madrid clash?