Ramsey & Juventus, is a good deal always the right deal?

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“It’s hard to find ways to improve when you have such a strong squad, but we’ll be vigilant when it comes to opportunities on the market’ is what you often heard from Beppe Marotta when he was asked about Juventus’ plans when a transfer window opened. Not surprisingly this mantra was continued, almost word for word, when Fabio Paratici was asked the same question recently.

This quote was one of the two things that came to mind when I first heard that Juventus was set to reach an agreement with Aaron Ramsey on a Bosman transfer, the other was the frequent misconception of the true cost of these types of signings. But let’s go in order and back to the quote on how difficult it is to improve a club that has won as much as Juventus recently- just because a deal is good, does it make the right deal?

When evaluating transfer moves, its’ very easy to look at things in the vacuum of the team that is welcoming a new player. It’s certainly a positive when you can say that new player X improves a team at a certain position, but ultimately a transfer move truly makes an impact when it bridges the gap with your competitors. 

As an example in the summer of 2017 I constantly praised Milan’s new directors Fassone and MIrabelli for many of their acquisitions because I was looking at the moves through a limited lens. Sure Rodriguez, Kessie, Biglia, Conti, Andre Silva and company were upgrades over what Galliani was able to put together with loans and options to buy, but how many of these players could have been starters on the teams Milan was trying to catch up to in Serie A? The only one was definitely Bonucci since he was a starter on the top team prior to his arrival.

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So while praising Juventus for signing Emre Can first and now almost certainly Aaron Ramsey on a “free transfer” (more on that inaccurate notion in a second) is a correct sentiment when you consider that they both better long term options than Sami Khedira, the better question is are they good enough to start for the top teams in Europe that Juventus are competing with for the Champions League- the trophy that now seems to matter the most to the club and certainly to their fan base.

Now I don’t watch enough of the Premier League to know the answer to that question, but I suggest to those who do to think of it in these terms. While Ramsey was linked to Barcelona and Paris St Germain and Manchester City pursued Emre Can in addition to Liverpool trying to keep him, would those clubs have asked them to play as an important role for them as Juventus is asking them to do in the next few years?

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While I’ll let those who know Ramsey and Can much better than I answer for them, there’s no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo’s addition is resounding Yes when we ask if he helps Juventus against Europe’s best. You can also make the case that while Miralem Pjanic and even Gonzalo Higuain aren’t as impactful players as Ronaldo, their acquisitions also came with the advantage of weakening Juve’s main rivals in Serie A at the time- on the bright side for Juve you can make a great case Joao Cancelo not only weakened Inter, he can genuinely bridge the gap with the Real Madrids of the world if he keeps playing like he has since arriving in Turin.

While a player’s ability is a subjective matter, the true cost of a Bosman signing isn’t. In Economics 101 they teach you that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”- meaning how the cost of the “free“ piece of candy you get at the bank, or the promotional item you get for attending a seminar is ultimately added on to the consumer. This is also true with football, sure with a Bosman signing you aren’t paying a transfer fee but you are paying elevated commissions to the player’s agent (who essentially plays the role of the selling club on a non Bosman transfer) and an inflated salary to the player to get him to pick your team.

This was spelled out in black and white (no pun intended) on the press release for Juventus’ acquisition of Emre Can. Because the current Serie A champions are a publicly traded company, they have to be transparent with their expenses and with Can they indicated he would cost 16 million over two years in agent commission- which impact Juventus’ balance sheets in almost exactly the same way as a transfer fee.

Now 16 million is certainly below market value for a midfielder who is entering his prime and whom Liverpool wants to keep and Manchester City has to sign, but he’s far from “free”. But there’s also another thing to consider, signing a Bosman player to an inflated salary has a domino effect to the rest of the squad- because they see a new player who is less established, it’s easy for the agents of the other players to demand a raise- we saw this with both Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira, and while the first extension was greeted with many positive reviews, the same cannot be said for the second.

Juventus deserves a lot of credit for going from a transient club where the likes of Pogba and Vidal increased their value only to be sold for big profits to being a destination club for sought after Bosman signing and super stars like Ronaldo, but to get to being a consistent Champions League contender, the bianconeri should also look to go beyond the good moves.

Juventus Top Performers – Round 17

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Juventus withstood Roma’s second half push and came away with yet another win mostly built thanks to a dominant first half, even though they were unable to seal the game.

Mattia De Sciglio (7 points): his growth has been visible, not only compared to his last days at Milan, when he looked lost, but also from last year. A real resurgence. At times in his two seasons at the club he was handpicked in some matches because he was a more defensive option than the alternatives, which is surely true, but, with Joao Cancelo out and the starting job on lockdown for the next few games, his confidence is skyrocketing and it shows when he attacks. In this one, he capped his recent satisfactory run with a majestic lefty cross for Mario Mandzukic, where he really looked like his Portuguese teammate. Continue reading

Alex Sandro extends contract with Juventus & Marchisio speaks out on farewell

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Alex Sandro and Juventus have agreed to a contract extension until 2023, the club announced on Thursday. The negotiation has been going on since the summer, when the Old Lady rebuffed some inquiries from PSG and Premier League giants, opting to keep the Brazilian left back on the roster. According to Sky Sport, he will earn €5M per year.

He commented to the official TV: “Today it is a very happy day for me, my family and my teammates. I can tell the fans that I will always give my 100 percent, like I have been doing so far, to get better and better. I learnt the mentality of the club over the last few years, we are always working to win and that will never change. Continue reading

Mendes & Nara tidbits and Nedved & Marotta make up

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Several personalities took part to the Golden Boy award yesterday and some Juventus-related topics were discussed on the stage. Jorge Mendes won as best agent and returned on the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: “The credit goes to Juventus, to their president Andrea Agnelli and to who made that call. Cristiano said to me in January that he would have liked to play there, I thought it would have been impossible and I told him that it was very difficult. However, they did manage to pull it off. Our first meeting was with Pavel Nedved and Fabio Paratici before the clash with Real Madrid, then with the president. When I spoke with Agnelli I went from considering it impossible to deeming it probable and the president sealed it. The negotiation lasted for two or three months.” Continue reading

Juventus will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League round of 16

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Despite grabbing the top spot in the group, the Nyon draw was not kind to Juventus and it paired Juve with the fiery Atletico Madrid for the round of 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be played in the Spanish Capital on February 20th, the second one in Turin on March 12th. The two teams played together just twice in their history, but the matches are recent and date back to the group stage of the 2014 edition: the Colchoneros won one-nothing at home and then the two sides shared the spoils in a nil-nil draw at the Juventus Stadium. Both teams advanced. Continue reading

Juventus injury update, milestone goal, memorabilia and Cancelo’s value

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Juventus’ defence, which has been the healthiest department so far, is suddenly short-handed as Medhi Benatia is dealing with some knee soreness, which will sideline him for the Young Boys contest and will likely require further exams. Andrea Barzagli recently suffered a quad strain and he is not expected to return before the end of the calendar year. After missing two and a half games with a thigh pull, Alex Sandro should be able to contribute, either on Wednesday or on Saturday, while Sami Khedira’s ankle still has not healed.

The Bianconeri will be looking to clinch the top spot of the group in Bern, which would allow them to avoid some dangerous teams in the first round of the knock-out stage. The next goal will be a milestone achievement, as it will be the 5000th scored in the history of the club. Continue reading

Ronaldo talks Juventus, Messi & the Ballon d’Or

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave an attention-grabbing interview to Gazzetta dello Sport: “I am happy to be here, the city is very pretty, the fans are nice and Juventus is a fantastic club with an extraordinary organization. The players are humble and work hard. The first impression has been wonderful.”

On the squad: “This is the best group I have played in, we are a team. In other clubs, some players felt like they were bigger than the teammates, while that is not the case here. They are aligned and they want to win. Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic are happy even if they do not score. I noticed the difference. Compared to Real Madrid, this is more like a family.” Continue reading

Supercoppa fully set, stock updates, financial outlook & Juventus Travel unveiled

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This week was full of interesting quotes and some of the off-the-field news were left out, so here is a rundown of what went down. The date, place and starting time for the Supercoppa Italiana has been set: Juventus vs Milan will be played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, with kick-off a 8.30 pm local time, 6.30 pm in Italy and half an hour after noon on the East Coast.

On December 27, in the Milan Stock Exchange, Juventus will enter the FTSE-Mib index, which is the group of the 40 most capitalized companies, joining the other assets of the Agnelli family: FCA, Ferrari and Exor. 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

Chiellini, Dybala, Paratici, Pjanic and Nedved speak at Gran Galà

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Monday was a day of awards, as the Ballon d’Or was handed to Luka Modric, with Cristiano Ronaldo finishing second and Mario Mandzukic 25th, and Serie A held its Gran Galà. Juventus triumphed as best team of last season, Massimiliano Allegri prevailed as best coach and four and a half Bianconeri got into the ideal XI: Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala, while Joao Cancelo was recognized for what he did last year at Inter.

Several personalities spoke to the journalists during the event. Continue reading