Juventus Transfer Rumours: 6 Alternatives to Verratti as Pirlo's Heir
It has been well documented that Juventus were highly interested in signing Marco Verratti this summer, but ultimately blundered the transfer and allowed the former Pescara rising star to join PSG, who gladly paid €12 million for the Azzurrini international.
Andrea Pirlo has been sensational for the Bianconeri since signing from Milan on a free transfer 18 months ago, but the Azzurri legend is 33 years old and the Old Lady will be looking to find a successor to their number 21 in the not-too-distant future.
Here are six possible replacements that Juve might consider to inherit the role of the deepest centre-midfielder in Antonio Conte's preferred 3-5-2. This does not necessarily mean that a replacement needs to be of the same ilk as Pirlo, as Juve will surely know that finding a direct replacement will almost be impossible.
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Paul Pogba signed for the Bianconeri under controversial circumstances after leaving Manchester United on bad terms with his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, evidently annoyed that the Red Devils had allowed a supreme talent to slip through their hands.
The Frenchman is an all-action midfielder who Simone Pepe recently compared to Patrick Vieira. Pogba slotted into the midfield in place of Andrea Pirlo against Chievo recently.
Pogba seems to be the favourite to inherit Pirlo's role in the Juve team as the Bianconeri tracked him for many years, eventually convincing the former Le Havre star to join the Juve revolution this summer.
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Luca Marrone is another potential replacement for Pirlo who is already with the club, having risen through the academy of the Old Lady.
Marrone has recently been utilised as a centre-back, flourishing in this role, but his best position is as a centre-midfielder.
The 22-year-old has been an integral part to Denis Mangia's Azzurrini, playing 25 times already, which clearly demonstrates his huge potential.
Ezequiel Cirigliano, River Plate
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Ezequiel Cirigliano is flourishing for newly-promoted River Plate in Argentina's Primera Division.
The Argentine is compared to his compatriots Fernando Gago and Ever Banega, players who are not too dissimilar to Pirlo. It is inevitable that Los Millonarios will sell the highly coveted teenager and Juve would surely consider a move for the highly-rated midfielder.
The Old Lady have previously shown an interest in Cirigliano and it is quite possible that they will return for the Argentine under-20 international at a later date.
Casemiro, Sao Paulo
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Brazilian midfielder Casemiro is another potential acquisition for the Bianconeri.
The Seleção international has received rave reviews for his performances for São Paulo in the Brasileirão, with a string of tough-tackling displays which have inspired the Tricolor Paulista.
Casemiro is a more destructive defensive-midfielder than Pirlo, but can also drive forward in transition, similar to Arturo Vidal.
Juve monitored Casemiro just over a year ago and will not have forgotten the 20-year-old as he continues to fulfill his potential ahead of an inevitable move to Europe.
Radja Nainggolan, Cagliari
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Radja Nainggolan has been one of Serie A's premier central-midfielders for the past two years at Cagliari and this has not gone unnoticed by the biggest clubs in Europe.
The Belgian provides a mixture of tenacious tackling and snappy passing in the middle of the pitch, regularly inspiring the Isolani despite the dearth of talent capable of helping him.
When asked recently about his future and the possibly of joining Juventus, Nainggolan said, "Everything is ready."
The transfer failed to materialise but it is certainly possible that the Bianconeri will return for the 24-year-old, who is capable of anchoring a midfield trio.
Beñat Etxebarria, Real Betis
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Beñat Etxebarria has impressed for Real Betis this season and his form in the Primera Liga has not gone unnoticed at Juventus.
Spanish newspaper AS reported that Juve have registered an interest in the Spain international, who would be available for approximately €10 million.
The Bianconeri would face stiff competition from other Serie A rivals, Fiorentina and Inter Milan, as well as Barcelona, with the Verdiblancos looking to sell their star due to only having 18 months left on his contract.