Juventus Transfer Analysis: What Is the Bianconeri Squad Missing?
In today's transfer market, too many football clubs go out to buy the hottest new talent or most in-form striker without thinking about their squad's overall needs or how said player will fit in the squad.
As such, teams waste tons of money year after year purchasing and discarding unfit players. With a little more research, though, such money can be saved to improve the club's financial position or allow it to save for a huge-sum purchase.
Here, we'll do the research for Juventus. We'll take a look at the needs of each element of the squad and suggest a couple of names that would be an ideal fit for the position.
Last season, Juve's defense was a huge reason why they were able to go undefeated the entire season. Simply put, Antonio Conte organized Juve's defense to such an extent that it was practically an impenetrable wall, and with Gianluigi Buffon in goal, he had an excellent line of defense.
This season, Conte has retained the bulk of his defenders, but he's also wisely made some additions to the team.
First off, holding onto Reto Ziegler was a wise move by Conte. Paolo De Ceglie showed us over and over again last year that he is not good enough to start for a Champions League club, let alone the Serie A champions. Giorgio Chiellini often started at left-back for Juve too last season, but he is much stronger at centre-back and isn't equipped with the ideal skill set of a left-back.
At right-back, the club secured the signature of Martin Caceres, who was terrific on loan, much improved from his loan spell with the club roughly two years ago. Caceres provides solid depth on the right for Juve, and he will surely compete with Lichtsteiner constantly for starts.
Finally, at centre-back, Lucio's addition was a very wise move by Juventus, adding experience and leadership to a backline that is already very dependable. Lucio knows that he will not start game in, game out for Juve and is prepared for a smaller role in Turin. Nevertheless, he'll surely prove a terrific substitute and backup whenever called upon by his manager.
I can't think of a team that's better prepared it's defense for the new season. 10/10; I only have praise for the way Juve have gone about improving their defense.
Quietly, Juventus have gone about improving their already remarkable midfield. In 2011-12, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal were the beastly triumvirate who tore through anyone who stood in their way. Now, they'll have plenty more help in doing so.
Kwadwo Asamoah from Udinese will provide talented depth in central midfield, a legitimate backup option when one of the three starters for Juve are injured, and in a season or two, he could be the man to step up and take Pirlo's spot in Juve's midfield.
Out wide, Mauricio Isla finally provides Juventus with a skilled right winger. Simone Pepe isn't a bad player, but he's a poor man's Dirk Kuyt: lots and lots of hustle and bustle, but not enough skill. He recorded only two assists from the wings last season; Isla should be able to provide significantly more while scoring roughly the same amount of goals as Pepe in fewer attempts on goals.
The only position with recruits I don't approve of is left midfield. Simone Padoin and Emanuele Giaccherini have both had decent careers, but they definitely aren't Bianconeri quality in my book. I rate both of them as weaker wingers than Pepe, and I don't rate Pepe too highly in the first place.
It's a shame Conte never approved of Eljero Elia; otherwise, he could've been the answer to Juve's need at left wing. Mirko Vucunic has been and will likely continue to be the start at left wing, but his game isn't quite as great in terms of pace and crossing as guys like Elia.
Juventus have gotten great value on Elia despite sitting him on the bench for a full year. However, Milos Krasic remains with the club, and the club's left midfielders do not inspire confidence. 9/10 for Juve on this one; their choices on the left side of midfield could be better, but again, they've retained their best players and brought on some excellent new ones for very reasonable prices.
On the left wing, normally, I'd recommend recruiting one of Ibrahim Afellay or Clint Dempsey to play there. But with Giaccherini just signed this summer to play there, Juve would have an overload of players competing for the spot. If Vucunic struggles to replicate his form last year and Giaccherini does not prove to be a decent backup, either player might still prove cheap and useful in the January transfer window.
It seems that the attack is always the last part of the squad to be set and ready to go for the new season. This of course makes sense; quality strikers are extremely hard to find, and usually, it will take a month or more of internal and external negotiations for a good striker to join a new club.
Nevertheless, Juventus made a solid move re-signing Sebastian Giovinco for €11 million this summer. The Atomic Ant has had a long on-again off-again relationship with the Old Lady, and one hopes that this reunion will finally be a successful one for both sides.
They've also invested in their future with a rather steep €4 million for 19-year-old Ghanian prodigy Richmond Boakye from Genoa. Looking at his goals last year in Serie B, though, he looks like he can prove to be a solid investment in a couple of seasons, or even less.
However, whereas Boakye has the build of a good centre-forward in the making (6'1", 173.5 lbs), Giovinco is, as his nickname would imply, rather tiny (5'5", 136.7 lbs). Giovinco may provide Juventus with another option on the left wing (not an ideal option, mind you), but unless Conte changes Juve's formation to accomodate a second striker, he won't be starting in Juve's traditional 4-3-3.
That means that Juve's biggest need in the final month of the transfer window is centre-forward. This of course is not a huge need, since Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella are not bad centre-forward options, and Vucunic himself is a servicable centre-forward at times.
Robin van Persie looked like a potential transfer candidate for Juve earlier this summer, but those rumors have died away as of late, with Manchester City and United being vetted as his primary potential destinations. If Arsenal decide to play hard-ball with him and allow him to only move outside the EPL, Juventus will definitely look like an attractive destination for the Dutchman.
Edin Dzeko is another quality striker whose position at Man City has become increasingly insecure, and City could allow him to leave if a good offer comes in or they are able to sign RVP. Juventus have been linked with Dzeko by the Mirror.
Stevan Jovetic and Luis Suarez have also been intermittently linked with Juventus, but with the club's current options, the pair just aren't needed. The Jovetic rumors are pretty strong though, with Goal.com recently revealing that Jovetic will put in a transfer request to push through a move to the Old Lady.
It's hard to give Juventus a rating here with work still to be done, but if they were to not recruit anyone and stick with Matri, I'd give them an 8/10. If they manage to get a good fee for Matri and replace him with Dzeko, I'd give a 9/10, and if they manage the almost-impossible and sign RVP, 10/10.
Long-gone are the days when Juventus' management made stupid mistake after stupid mistake in the transfer market, buying poor players and leaving the squad overloaded in certain areas and weak in others.
This Juve squad looks incredible in defense, very impressive in midfield and is one signing away from being remarkable in offense. If they can make that key signing up front, they'll be ready to take on literally any team in the world.
What is particularly admirable about this Juventus squad is the attention that they are now giving to their youth players, and players produced by the club's academy.
Nicola Leali (GK), Richmond Boakye (CF) and Alberto Masi (CB) are three signings with great talent brought in at a young age, and Giovinco is a returning youth system product, as we've already said. Claudio Marchisio, Luca Marrone and Paolo De Ceglie are three youth players who've been well-integrated into the first team, even if the latter two serve back-up roles at the moment.
Add to that the intelligent and cost-effective purchases made in every part of the squad this summer, and Juventus have had one of the best summers of any major club in world football.
In a football era dominated by reckless spending and financial disregard by football's biggest clubs, it's good to see at least one club (outside the Bundesliga) achieving top honors in its domestic league with a prudent financial plan.
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