Three Players Juventus Should Sign in The Summer


With Juventus on the brink of Champions League elimination after a number of unimpressive performances, it’s time for a squad overhaul. While Aaron Ramsey is a good start at addressing their woeful midfield, the Welshman alone will not be enough to propel the bianconeri to European glory. In defence, Juventus’ core is getting old with Leonardo Bonucci showing signs of wear and tear. Daniele Rugani, by contrast, has frankly not lived up to the hype and has proven to be nothing more than a luxury option off the bench. Up top, on the other hand, it’s time Juventus sign a young, link-up target man, as Dybala, Ronaldo and Mandzukic have been an awkward fit for one another. Here are three players Paratici should have at the top of his wish-list.

1) Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

Matthijs de Ligt needs no introduction and is without a doubt Europe’s top young defender at the moment. If you look up the definition of leader in the dictionary, the young Dutchman’s face will pop up. After having won the Golden Boy award in 2018, becoming the first defender to ever win the award, de Ligt has gone from strength to strength.

Right now, de Ligt is Ajax’s rock at the back, and is captaining the side deep into the Champions League, past European supergiants and reigning champions Real Madrid. Just last month, the 19-year-old became the youngest ever player to captain his side in a Champions League knockout clash, and has not looked one bit out of place.

While competition for the defender’s signature will be at an all-time high, Paratici and co. must go all out and sign de Ligt. If it takes 80 million euros, then so be it. With Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli on the wrong side of 30, it’s time to refresh their backline, and what better place to start than with de Ligt. Despite his age, the Dutchman is arguably already in the top ten defenders in the world, and must emerge as a priority for the bianconeri. Otherwise, Juventus’ elite defence of the past will become nothing but a distant memory.

2) Tanguy NDombele (Lyon)

For the past two seasons, Juventus’ midfield has held the side back in Europe’s elite competition and cannot be ignored come summertime. With Ramsey already on his way on a bosman transfer, Lyon’s Tanguy NDombele would be an ideal fit alongside Juventus’ current options.

NDombele is a one-man midfield, and has consistently proven he can cut it at the highest level, especially in Lyon’s most recent clash against Barcelona. Much like de Ligt,the Lyon midfielder does not let his inexperience seep into his play, and largely dominates proceedings as if he’s a seasoned veteran in the middle of the park.

Alongside Ramsey and Pjanic, the Frenchman would be able to express himself freely and offer some much needed creativity without sacrificing industry. Right now, Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can have looked out of place in Allegri’s setup, and have proven to be far too limited for elite football.

Considering Paratici will have to deal with notorious negotiator, Lyon president and French businessman Jean-Michel Aulas, it won’t be easy. In any case, NDombele is Juventus’ best option to rebuild their midfield, both in the short-term and in the long-run.

3) Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 

This one is a bit trickier for Paratici. Safe to say, Ronaldo hasn’t yet blended in with Mandzukic and Dybala, despite his impressive goalscoring record, and Juventus require an all-round support striker to get the best out of him. At Real Madrid, Benzema acted as the Portuguese superstar’s foil.

With Mandzukic showing signs of slowing down, it may be time for Juventus to start looking at younger options up top. Since making the switch to Germany, Jovic has improved all aspects of his game and has developed into a real force to be reckoned with, scoring 21 goals and registering five assists in all competitions.

With Jovic alongside Ronaldo and Dybala behind them, whoever’s at the helm of Juventus, could recreate Zidane’s blueprint at Real Madrid and get the side scoring freely again. While it may not be an immediate need, Juventus will not have Ronaldo forever and must make the most of his presence while he’s in Turin. Jovic would go a long way in this respect.

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Rakitic and Modric can take Croatia all the way

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Croatia last qualified from the group stages of a World Cup tournament.

Back then, the 1998 vintage consisted of Davor Suker, Igor Stimac, Slaven Bilic, Robert Prosinecki, Zvonimir Boban and others, and they’d go all the way to the semi-finals before narrowly losing 2-1 to hosts, and eventual winners, France.

Fast forward to 2018, and it’s the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Dejan Lovren, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic that have picked up the baton and written another piece of Croatian history. Continue reading

Mandzukic, da bidone a pedina insostituibile


Il fascino del calcio è che, nel bene o nel male tutto può cambiare velocemente. Era stato già bollato come un bidone Mario Mandzukic, attaccante croato arrivato un po’ a sorpresa quest’estate dall’Atletico Madrid con l’ingrato compito di sostituire Tevez.  I tifosi  e gli addetti ai lavori storcevano il naso e proprio non si capacitavano come Allegri potesse preferire questo lungagnone e dinoccolato croato alla classe e fantasia di Morata.  Poi come spesso capita, il campo ha messo tutti d’accordo: prima il gol decisivo con il Manchester City in Champions League, poi quello in campionato che ha sbloccato la partita con il Palermo.  I suoi numeri non sono altisonanti, ma  ha il merito di segnare tutti gol importanti: in 15 presenze ha realizzato 6 reti, ma quasi tutti pesanti. Il primo con la Lazio in Supercoppa, poi nell’esordio in Champions League ha bucato il City a Manchester, quindi 1 gol all’Atalanta, 1 all’Empoli,  1 ancora al City, 1 al Palermo. Virtualmente, ha dato alla sua squadra 12 punti e un trofeo, la Supercoppa appunto.

Allegri difficilmente rinuncia a lui apprezzandone in particolare il lavoro di sacrificio per la squadra. Mandzukic non si risparmia mai ed è sempre il primo giocatore a pressare sul portatore di palla avversario. Grazie alla sua fisicità e alla sua generosità è diventato un titolare inamovibile, sono Dybala e Morata a doversi contendere il posto da titolare a suo fianco.  “Mario non è un fuoriclasse – ha detto con grande onestà il tecnico della Juventus –, ma in rosa non abbiamo un altro giocatore con quelle caratteristiche”. Traduzione: quando sta bene, Mandzukic gioca.

A spezzare un’ulteriore lancia in suo favore è intervenuto il suo connazionale Alen Boksic, anche lui dal passato juventino: “Mario è uno che dà tutto per i  compagni, ma ha bisogno della squadra per rendere al massimo. D’altronde stiamo parlando di uno dei migliori colpitori di testa a livello europeo. Se sta bene, può arrivare a 20 reti. Quando è in forma, un gol lo fa sempre. E di solito sono timbri pesanti”.

L’inizio di stagione burrascoso sembra essere alle spalle, Mario come tutta la Juventus ha preso il volo e non vuole più fermarsi.  I tifosi della Juventus hanno iniziato ad apprezzarlo, il brutto anatroccolo si è trasformato in un cigno.