Juventus are two key signings away from being serious UEFA Champions League contenders.
Paolo De Ceglie will not be as bad as Cristian Molinaro but the 25-year-old’s upside is limited, so a left-back must be signed in the summer transfer window.
Antonio Conte will be looking for an attacking left-back to play wing-back in a 3-5-2—a formation he used in 34 percent of Juve’s Serie A games.
A centre-forward capable of scoring 25 goals or more per season could turn Conte’s side into a dynasty. Alessandro Matri did not play with a sense of urgency. Mirko Vučinić’s finishing was abhorrent. Marco Borriello cared more about his hair than scoring goals. Fabio Quagliarella has never scored 25 goals in one season.
Transfer needs: attacking left-back and centre-forward. This article will break up the targets into three different signings: Italian, foreign and U-23.
Palermo, Age: 30, Italian
Federico Balzaretti fell way short of the lofty standards he set after a monumental 2010-11 season.
Juventus would be signing Balzaretti on the assumption that he would make the transition into becoming an elite left-back. Based on this season's form, it is unlikely because it seems he maxed out during the 2010-11 season.
Schalke, Age: 26, Austrian
Christian Fuchs would be the prototypical wing-back because he is energetic, he whips in crosses, he is efficient in the attacking half, and he can tackle.
Even though he only scored two free-kicks this season, he enjoys proven success in dead-ball situations and will punish opposing teams if given the chance.
Fuchs or Paolo De Ceglie? Fuchs every day of the week. Yes, De Ceglie is a more accurate crosser, but he sent in 100 less crosses than Fuchs.
|League Only||Fuchs||De Ceglie|
|Tackles Per Game||3||1.6|
|Tackles Per Foul||3.2||1.7|
|Interceptions Per Game||2.9||1.5|
Vitesse, Age: 23, Dutch
When Voetbal International asked their readers to vote for the Team of the Year, there were only two players who accumulated 80-plus percent of votes in their position.
Jan Vertonghen and Alexander Büttner.
It's a travesty that the Eredivisie's best left-back did not make Bert van Marwijk's Euro 2012 squad.
Büttner is a constant menace down the left flank. He is a relatively decent tackler, but his positioning still needs refining. He used to play as a forward, and once started behind Bas Dost in a 1-0 loss to Argentina at the 2009 Toulon Tournament.
Genoa, Age: 21, Italian
Mattia Destro raised eyebrows on loan at Siena, when he scored five goals and provided an assist across a six-game stretch.
He managed to score 12 league goals when Siena's primary providers were Alessandro Gazzi and Franco Brienza, who were modest professionals.
Aside from the goals, what stood out was Destro's tenacity in chasing down opposing players. It was great attitude from a youngster who showed his selflessness.
Saint-Étienne, Age: 22, Gabonese
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can win a game by himself. Just ask the Évian players, who watched Aubameyang create and score a goal in the space of five minutes, which allowed Saint-Étienne to come back from 1-0 down to win 2-1.
In a 4-2 win over Lorient, he showed his class by scoring a hat trick.
He was inspirational for Gabon during the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Twente, Age: 21, Dutch
Luuk de Jong is strong in the air, he is solid in possession, he shields the ball well, and he consistently scores.
This season, he scored 32 goals and provided 18 assists in 54 games.
Marc Janko has become an afterthought because if not for Janko moving to Porto, De Jong would still be playing out wide.
In 2004, Juventus took a calculated gamble in signing Zlatan Ibrahimović. Due to Calciopoli, the Swede was never able to develop into a world-class forward for Juve. Look at him now.
De Jong's potential for greatness outweighs the risk of becoming the next Bidone d'oro recipient.
Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.