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Inter Milan: The Rise of Nerazzurri Defender Juan Jesus

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentOctober 18, 2012

Inter Milan: The Rise of Nerazzurri Defender Juan Jesus

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    When Massimo Moratti signed Juan Jesus from Internacional during last season's January transfer window, naturally there were some awkward questions from Inter supporters like: "Juan…who?"

    Unlike the Iván Córdoba and Andrea Ranocchia signings, Juan didn’t carry a significant transfer fee, nor did he have the same reputation as Vasco da Gama's Dedé—who is rated by many Brazilian football aficionados as the nation's next great centre-back. 

    This season, Juan has been world-class for Inter Milan, and this article will detail the rise of the Nerazzurri’s up-and-coming Brazilian centre-back. 

Questions Raised over Juan Jesus' Ability After Olympic Debacle

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    Mano Menezes had arguably the most loaded squad in Olympic football history.

    To give you an idea of how great this Brazilian team was on paper, in the gold-medal match against Mexico, he had the likes of Hulk, Alexandre Pato, Lucas, Ganso and Danilo warming the benches. 

    After Brazil's ignominious loss to Mexico, BBC South American football correspondent Tim Vickery was miffed with Menezes' selection of Juan Jesus:

    But a big part of the problem was the presence in front of the keeper of centre-back Juan, who at this stage of his career is not ready for such a challenge—and since he is nowhere in the running for a 2014 place, it was not a selection that made any sense.

    This wasn't the first negative headline that Juan attracted, because he and Rafael were involved in an altercation during the game:

    I had a fight with Rafael after he lost the ball and they [Mexico] scored from it. So we said some words to each other in the heat of the moment. But it is over now, and we have help to each other.

    Suffice to say, Juan's reputation took a severe hit.

    If you said he was going to be Inter's Brazilian answer to Nelson Rivas, it wouldn't have been an unpopular opinion at the time.  

Juan Jesus' Breakout Game Against Torino

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    In an alternate universe, Juan Jesus would be competing with Roger Carvalho, Mikael Antonsson, Nicolò Cherubin and Cesare Natali to start at the back for Bologna

    Leading into the summer transfer-window deadline, Rossoblu president Albano Guaraldi was keen to sign Juan on loan. 

    Inter Milan's management stuck to their guns, and Juan has come good for them. 

    Going into the game against Torino, I was keen to see if Angelo Ogbonna was the real deal.

    When referee Luca Banti whistled for full-time, it wasn't Ogbonna that had impressed me, it was Juan.

    He kept Rolando Bianchi at bay. Plus,the Brazilian also pacified Alessandro Sgrigna and easily dealt with Riccardo Meggiorini.  

    He had put in one of the most dominant performances you'll ever see at centre-back—97-percent pass-completion rate, with five successful tackles, eight intercepted passes and five headers won. 

    Andrea Ranocchia was immense, but how come you're not talking about him? Click next. 

Juan Jesus Has Resurrected Andrea Ranocchia's Career

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    Last season, Andrea Ranocchia was outfoxed by the audaciously gifted Fabrizio Miccoli, who was involved with all four Palermo goals during a 4-4 draw. 

    It was just one of several calamitous performance from Ranocchia.

    The main concern wasn't his being consistently caught out of position, it was the spiritless way he played the game, which gave him the impression of mental weakness. 

    With the dominant Juan Jesus by Ranocchia's side, the Italian has transformed into a stallion. 

The Future?

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    League Only Tackles Per Game Tackles Per Foul Interceptions Per Game Pass %
    Andrea Ranocchia 4.4 3.4 3.7 88.3
    Juan Jesus 3.6 3 3 87.2
    Vincent Kompany 2.8 1.4 1.8 89.6
    Sergio Ramos 2.1 0.8 1 82.3
    Thiago Silva 2.3 2.3 2.3 93.8

     

    WhoScored recently showed that Samir Handanović had saved 19 of 21 shots, which equates to an absurd 90-percent save ratio. 

    Handanović has two centre-backs in front of him that are playing at a world-class level in Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus. 

    Andrea Stramaccioni may have just launched the career of Inter Milan's next great centre-back, which in the process reversed the direction of Ranocchia's lackluster form at the club. 

    If you haven't watched Juan play yet, make sure you do so before the season ends. He is a marvel at the back. 

     

    Please read Inter's Gamble on Cassano Is Paying off in Spades

    Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com

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