Maurizio Sarri was right to substitute Ronaldo and the Portuguese legend must understand that

The big clash in Serie A at the weekend was against Juventus and AC Milan, which in truth meant a lot more 15 years ago and it was a game that Juventus would narrowly win 1-0. But the result was not the talking point, indeed it was all over a substitution.

In world football there are two players who, if they get subbed, can make headlines. One is Lionel Messi and the other is Cristiano Ronaldo and at the weekend for the second consecutive game in a row, the Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri substituted CR7 a.k.a Cristiano Ronaldo.

When it happened in the 55th minute the game was 0-0 and Ronaldo was none too pleased. He trundled off in what appeared to be a huge mood and then reportedly make the bizarre decision to leave the stadium before the end of the game. If this is true he has completely undermined Sarri. Sarri himself tried to play the incident down, saying in a nutshell that it was normal for Ronaldo to be upset and that he would be worried taking off a player that didn’t show emotion. It was nothing more than a textbook response, and Sarri should be boiling inside at Ronaldo’s actions.

On the face of it there has been a falling out and Sarri has no fears about making the decision that most coaches would fear in bringing off Ronaldo. But there is more than meets the eye and it seems that the Portuguese player has been suffering with a niggling knee problem the past few weeks.

It was also reported that before his substitution he had looked at his knee, hobbled a little and looked at the bench. However if true why would he be so angry at coming off? There is a competitiveness but there is also a danger of taking that too far and picking up a much worse injury in the long run.

Ronaldo is a total professional most of the time and nearing 35 next year is still scoring the goals and performing in games. However he got it wrong this time and Sarri was simply trying to protect his player. Maybe he was listening to recent comments too where Ronaldo admitted that he would only want to play in the very important games and Champions League ones.

The game ended with a Pablo Dybala goal, and to rub the salt into Ronaldo’s wounds, Dybala was the player who replaced Ronaldo.

Let’s hope Juventus and Sarri has the courage to fine Ronaldo for his actions, could you imagine a younger player doing the same and getting away with it?

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Bentancur adapting to life under Maurizio Sarri

When Maurizio Sarri was first appointed as Juventus boss, many expected Rodrigo Bentancur to benefit greatly. After all, the Uruguayan international is slick in possession and is a classic regista, a position Sarri greatly values. In many ways, he epitomizes everything the veteran manager looks for in a midfielder. However, life under the former Napoli tactician didn’t get off to a great start as Sarri regularly fielded Sami Khedira and Blaise Mautidi alongside Miralem Pjanic, relegating the 22-year-old to the bench. With limited minutes, Bentancur was constrained solely to cameo appearances.

In recent weeks, however, Bentancur has seen his playing time increase and has played the full ninety minutes in consecutive games. Rather than play as the side’s deepest midfielder, Sarri has used the former Boca Junior man as a mezz’ala on the right-hand side of Pjanic. This is a new position for the player as he’s typically used to playing as a number six. In this role, Bentancur often filters in centrally as a regista, giving the Bosnian international the license to roam forward. While on paper he’s fielded as a mezz’ala, Pjanic and Bentancur’s understanding of space means he occupies both positions at times.

Against Lokomotiv Moscow, at first, Bentancur was used as an attacking midfielder behind Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo. When that didn’t work, the Uruguayan international was quickly shifted deeper into midfield, once again, alongside Pjanic.

From a more familiar position, Bentancur regained control and looked way better in possession. Before the season started it seemed it was either Pjanic or Bentancur, however, Sarri has demonstrated he’s willing to use them together given their ability to interchange positions at will.

Tomorrow, Bentancur is expected to start at the heart of midfield against Genoa, after Pjanic picked up a knock in Juventus’ most recent draw against Lecce. As the side’s regista, expect the 22-year-old to dictate play and link the midfield to attack. It will be interesting to see how Bentancur performs in Pjanic’s absence as it will be the first time he plays without the Bosnian this season. Thus far, the duo have formed an unlikely partnership and give Juventus’ midfield some much-needed technique and directness.

With Pjanic on the pitch, Bentancur takes on a more subdued role as opposing defences are focused on the former Roma man. From a wider position in midfield, Bentancur filters in between the lines and is able to carve out space for himself in dangerous areas. Take the Inter game, for example. As Marcelo Brozovic was marking Pjanic for most of the game, Sarri introduced Bentancur to create a numerical advantage in the middle of the park.

Despite playing as a mezz’ala, the Uruguayan midfielder was often in central positions and played a crucial role in Gonzalo Higuain’s winner, providing the assist. With Pjanic in a deeper position, Bentancur played in an advanced role behind the strikers. As Dybala moved freely around the pitch, Inter’s defence struggled to keep track of the bianconeri’s midfielders, leaving Bentancur time and space to find Higuain on the winner.

Against Genoa, however, Bentancur is expected to play the regista role on his own; a challenge he’ll surely welcome. Despite his positive performances in recent weeks, he’s yet to prove he can handle the midfield workload on his own and has struggled in the past when tasked with dictating play.

If Bentancur impresses tomorrow, it will pose Sarri with quite the selection headache moving forward. Either continue using the Uruguayan from a mezz’ala role in tandem with Pjanic, or keep an in-form player on the bench. Remember, there’s also Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot to account for. In any case, Bentancur’s progress this season is something Juventus will welcome, especially considering their midfield woes.

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An ideal breakup- Sarri off to a perfect start at Juventus while Chelsea are better off without him

Sometimes a breakup ends up benefitting all involved. While last season Maurizio Sarri ended up hitting all of his objectives at Chelsea, his departure from the Blues opened up the door to Frank Lampard leading the club’s impressive youth movement- something the former Napoli manager wouldn’t have had the patience to see through. 

Sarri ended up landing on his feet at Juventus, a club desperate to play a more attractive style of football and one that would ensure they get the most out of their impressive offensive weapons. But while Sarri’s hire was quite controversial and his debut on Juventus’ bench in an official match was delayed because of a bout of pneumonia, that even led to some wild conspiracy theories, the start to his tenure at Juventus couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.

During the recent pre match press conference for the Champions League showdown against Lokomotiv Moscow, Cristiano Ronaldo praised his new manager for implementing a more offensive style than his predecessor- certainly an important endorsement. While Juventus playing a more attractive style has appeased not just Ronaldo but also all the fans who were fed up with Max Allegri, had Sarri also not achieved so many wins in his first 11 matches, he would be under a lot of criticism.

After all Juventus’ motto is “vincere e’ l’unica cosa che conta” (winning is the only thing that matters) so more shots on goal would not spare a manager from heavy criticism or potentially losing their jobs. That is what happened to Gigi Maifredi in the early 90s, he was supposed to be Juventus’ answer to Arrigo Sacchi and the prophet who would move them out of the catenaccio they were known for, but because the results simply weren’t there, he was gone after a year.

Sarri got a truly signature win under his belt before the last international break at San Siro against arch rivals Inter. He has also saved his team’s best performances for the Champions League, the competition he will ultimately be judged upon- Juventus hired him because they believe his style is what works in the competition, and finally winning it would make him into a legend with the club’s fan base.

In addition to obtaining excellent results so far, Sarri has rejuvenated many of Juventus’ players. During his introductory press conference, he mentioned he was intrigued by the idea of working with Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala. The Brazilian winger looked to be on his way out following some off field issues during the previous season, but prior to his injury, he looked like someone who could even exceed Insigne and Callejon’s impressive performances in the same role at Napoli.

Dybala being on the market last summer was never denied by Juventus- they never hid fact they thought he was more valuable as a plusvalenza because they had doubts on his fit with Ronaldo. But the Argentine international ended up winning the award for Juventus’ best player in the month of September and then scored the two decisive goals in the match against Lokomotiv.

The player that Dybala is competing for playing time with is having a much more improbable revival. Once he returned to Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain couldn’t even get number 9 back despite it being vacant since the bianconeri were hoping to give it to either Romelu Lukaku or Mauro Icardi. While at Chelsea he looked like a completely finished player and someone who was just a financial albatross because of his massive wages, Higuain has been excellent since returning to Turin.

But while with Higuain there was a history with Sarri that could have led an optimistic person to assume this would happen, Juan Cuadrado’s narrative this season has been nothing short of spectacular. Rightfully many Juventus’ fans were very concerned when Joao Cancelo was sold to Manchester City- after all he was often the most creative player on Allegri’s team, was essentially the player the bianconeri thought they signed with Dani Alves and played arguably the scarcest position on the transfer market. While De Sciglio and Danilo wouldn’t be able to come close to matching Cancelo’s production, Cuadrado has been even better than the Portiguese international so far because he hasn’t made so many obvious defensive mistakes. 

In addition to Cuadrado, there have been substantial improvements with Miralem Pjanic and Alex Sandro who had been in a funk for the past two seasons. Sarri has also shown more tactical flexibility at Juventus than in his previous stops, he has alternated between the 4 3 3 formation he’s used in last few years with the two strikers in front of a trequartista formation he used at Empoli and at the very beginning of his time at Empoli to get the most of Aaron Ramsey.

In Italy there’s a great saying “Il buongiorno si vede dal mattino”, which translates to “you can tell it will be a good day from the morning”- Sarri has certainly had a great start even though his former club is better off without him, certainly not an easy feat. 

 

 

Big Week Ahead For Sarri and Juventus

With Juventus set to take on Bayer Leverkusen and Inter this week, it’s the bianconeri’s first real tests of the season since the Napoli clash. In recent weeks, the Italian champions have impressed and have begun showing positive signs that Sarriball is well and truly on its way.

However, Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL aren’t exactly the fiercest of challengers and will likely all be near the relegation zone come the season’s end. As a result, the following week will act as the all-important litmus test: Are Juventus real Champions League contenders under Maurizio Sarri and can they keep their Serie A crown?

After going with the 4-3-3 for the early goings of the Serie A season, Sarri went back to his roots and has deployed the more narrow 4-3-1-2 over Juventus’ last three games. This is a formation that the former Chelsea boss used throughout his time with Empoli with great success. In the absence of Douglas Costa, the bianconeri lack wide players capable of beating their men in the final third. While Juan Cuadrado has been a pleasant surprise since returning to the fold, Federico Bernardeschi has disappointed.

The former Fiorentina man frankly lacks the pace to be an out-and-out winger and has looked poor in the early stages of this season. Sarri has even claimed in a recent press conference that Bernardeschi’s future is arguably from a deeper, more central role in midfield as a mezz’ala. 

The formation change has also coincided with Paulo Dybala’s return to form. Since switching to the ‘Christmas Tree’ formation, the former Palermo man has played an integral role in the buildup and has looked incredibly dangerous between the lines. Linking up with either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gonzalo Higuain, la Joya is not far off his brilliant best.

Outside of Dybala’s return to form, this formation also suits new arrival Aaron Ramsey. Playing in an advanced role, the Welsh international is able to infiltrate the opposition’s defence with late runs into the box. Since returning from injury, Ramsey has been in sensational form and is establishing himself as a key piece to Sarriball.

Equally capable of running behind the defence as he is playing neat touches in tight spaces, Ramsey is the missing piece in Juventus’ eleven. With Miralem Pjanic, Adrien Rabiot and Sami Khedira behind him, the Turin-based giants are now capable of fielding a blend of skill and tenacity in the middle of the park.

Defensively, Juventus are showing improvements, as Matthijs de Ligt is growing every week alongside Leonardo Bonucci. While their fullback crisis is worrying, Alex Sandro has had a phenomenal start to the season and will look to continue that this week.

With Leverkusen and a top-of-the-table clash against Inter on the horizon, Juventus are going to need to continue familiarizing themselves with their new formation and manager’s playing philosophy. As their performances keep improving, it’s clear Sarriball is well on its way. With Juventus’ new arrivals blending in nicely with Ronaldo and co. it’s only a matter of time before free-flowing football is the norm in Turin.

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It’s Time for the New Signings

With Juventus taking on Hellas Verona tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any for Maurizio Sarri to rotate his eleven and give the bianconeri’s new arrivals some much-needed playing time.

As the Italian champions debuted with a tough schedule that saw them take on Napoli, Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid in succession, the former Chelsea tactician opted not to ruffle any feathers and stick with Juventus veterans such as Sami Khedira and Blaise Matuidi among others.

Now with Juventus taking on Hellas Verona, Brescia and SPAL in the coming weeks, Sarri would be wise to rest his starters and look to integrate the new signings. While Matuidi and Khedira haven’t had bad starts to the season by any stretch, they are limited and are currently holding back ‘Sarriball’ from being in full flow.

New arrivals Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are far more suited to free-flowing football and will benefit from increased playing time in the coming games.

Uruguayan international Rodrigo Bentancur is also expected to feature and has looked impressive in brief cameos thus far. Outside of a revamped midfield, hard-nosed defender Merih Demiral is rumoured to start alongside Leonardo Bonucci.

The Turkish international has patiently waited in the wings and appears more than ready to seize the opportunity. With Giorgio Chiellini out for the foreseeable future, Demiral’s aggression is an asset this Juventus defence desperately craves – as highlighted by their most recent collapse against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Reports also suggest that Gonzalo Higuain will make way out of the lineup for Paulo Dybala. After a summer linking la Joya away from the club, the former Palermo man opted to stay, rejecting a move to Manchester United. Now with Sarri looking to rotate, it’s time for Dybala to prove himself and demonstrate he has what it takes to play as an outright number nine in the former Napoli tactician’s system.

At Napoli, Dries Mertens played this role to perfection and has a similar skill-set to the Argentine. While the Belgian is arguably a better finisher than Dybala, there’s no reason the Juventus forward can’t get into similar positions as Mertens. While the 25-year-old will be eager to play in more important games, proving himself against Hellas Verona will be a good start after an indifferent season under Allegri. Factor in Higuain’s good form, and it’s clear Dybala has to have a good performance against the newly-promoted side to keep up with his compatriot.

As the season unfolds and Juventus get more comfortable with their new boss, expect to see more and more signs of Sarriball in Turin. Introducing the likes of Dybala, Rabiot and Ramsey – players who are more technical than their direct competitors in their position – will only help in this respect.

As a result, the following weeks are of paramount importance to Sarri and co. Not for the table, but for his playing philosophy. If Juventus wish to play free-flowing football in their coach’s image, the time to buy in is now. On Sarri’s end, it’s time to use Juventus’ deep roster and look for alternatives to the current starters. Starting, of course, with the game against Hellas Verona.

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Sarriball still loading in Turin

Despite replacing Massimiliano Allegri’s conservatism with Sarriball, Juventus still looked lethargic in attack and shaky at the back. At times, the bianconeri had all eleven players behind the ball, conceding the entire pitch to Parma. While Roberto D’Aversa’s men will prove hard to break down this season, they’re no Real Madrid and Juventus should have looked to remain on the front foot.

Juventus started the game with no new signings in the lineup and went with Douglas Costa, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Gonzalo Higuain up front. The trio did just enough to secure the three points, despite their Portuguese superstar proving wasteful.

Ronaldo’s inefficiency in front of goal was surprising, but Juve’s lack of movement was even more worrying. When Miralem Pjanic was in possession, the Bosnian international rarely had options and was typically forced to spread the ball wide.

Maurizio Sarri has identified the player as his regista, however, the former Roma midfielder doesn’t look suited to the role. Pjanic is the type of player that likes to dribble with the ball at his feet, while Sarri’s ideal regista takes a maximum of two touches before relinquishing it. Take Jorginho, for example. The Chelsea midfielder is constantly involved in his side’s buildup play and is regularly on the move out of possession.

Pjanic, by contrast, needs to be the one playing the final ball in the final third, otherwise, his creativity is wasted. The reality is, he couldn’t be more different than Jorginho. This is one crucial, fundamental difference between Sarri’s sides in the past and Juventus today. However, let’s be clear: Sarri will have an easier time instilling his philosophy when Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey become regulars.

In attack, Sarri will encounter further headaches. While Higuain or Dybala suffice as strikers, Ronaldo and Douglas Costa aren’t exactly ‘Sarriball’ wingers. Both like to take on the opposition and tend to drift around the pitch freely.

As it concerns Ronaldo, that shouldn’t be an issue as he will be handed carte blanche like Eden Hazard was at Chelsea. However, with Ronaldo moving positions at will, the other winger must be disciplined positionally. For all his strengths, that’s not the first quality you tend to associate with Douglas Costa. The Brazilian is electric in possession and is Juventus’ best one vs one winger, but usually floats around the pitch. At Napoli, Jose Callejon acted as this wide-man as Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens interchanged positions.

The Spaniard’s second-post runs were a crucial aspect to Sarriball and will be something the veteran tactician will be hoping to introduce via Douglas Costa. Otherwise, he will likely turn to Federico Bernardeschi on the bench.

Until the bianconeri’s attack are comfortable with the intricacies of Sarri’s system, the Juventus we see from week-to-week will be closer to their former boss than their current one. Sarri himself mentioned it would take him six months before his football is in full flow, and it’s clear to see why. While it’s still early days, the notable differences between Juventus’ roster and Sarri’s former sides are still a cause for concern. After all, as good as Pjanic and Douglas Costa are, he’s arguably a regista and a winger away from his ideal eleven.

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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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Sarri analyzes the Inter friendly

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Juventus beat Inter on penalties on Wednesday, with Matthijs De Ligt scoring an own goal and Cristiano Ronaldo finding the net on a free kick with the help of a deflection. Gianluigi Buffon then denied three opponents in the shout-out. Here is how Maurizio Sarri commented: “De Ligt was part of the portion of the game where we played worst and he has no responsibility in that, while Cristiano Ronaldo had the usual high-quality performance. I sense that we can improve a lot in the offensive plays, especially velocity-wise, which would enhance him even further.”

On the progress compared to the Tottenham outing: “All things considered, we had a similar display, since we had a subpar rhythm in the first half, where we struggled to defend with a high center of gravity and we tracked back. Continue reading

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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Juventus resumes training and Sarri’s staff finalized

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Juventus practiced yesterday for the first time under Maurizio Sarri and was almost at full force, as only Cristiano Ronaldo and Blaise Matuidi will join later since they went deep in Nations League. There were no healthy scratches, so no sale is really imminent and nobody has been frozen out. Few players had a differentiated program due to injuries: Mattia Perin, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, Wojciech Szczesny and Sami Khedira, who went under the knife for knee clean-ups, Marko Pjaca, who tore his ACL in March, Aaron Ramsey, who suffered a thigh strain late in the year at Arsenal, and Douglas Costa, whose issue is unclear. Only Perin and Pjaca are in danger of missing time at the beginning of next season. Continue reading