Juventus Transfers: 5 Positions That Antonio Conte Must Shore Up This Summer
OK ... so they're top of Serie A and cruising in the Champions League. Juventus aren't doing too badly with what they've got, admittedly. But while another Scudetto seems likely on its way to Turin, the 2013-14 campaign could be a very different story.
After a slow start, AC Milan have now shown their true quality and will challenge for honours next term. Inter, too, seem unlikely to spend the next season the sort of trouble they've been in recently. Lazio and Napoli—should they hold on to the players they've got and perhaps make one or two wise additions—will be problematic, and after a disastrous year, the American-owned AS Roma project must surely deliver on all its promise.
On top of all that, there'll be the UCL to think about, so the Bianconeri will have some transfer business to do this summer if they want to stay on top of it all.
But what are the most pressing requirements?
Another Top-Class Centreback Would Make Them Impenetrable
Leonardo Bonucci & Co. have been coping without the talismanic Giorgio Chiellini, who of course will soon be back in action, but the vice-captain's absence has highlighted how much they rely on him.
At key points this season, whenever Juve looked a little fragile you always got the impression Chiellini would have shored them up and spurred them on.
For most sides, Chiellini, Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Martin Caceres would represent an embarrassment of defensive riches, but if they continue to challenge for multiple honours while still playing three at the back, another top class defender would certainly help.
Juve Need Another Left Back
Federico Peluso's loan from Atalanta certainly seems like a shrewd one, and Juve fans will be hoping that the Roman's move is made permanent in the summer.
He's known for his versatility, and some have suggested that in the future he might serve Juventus better as a centre back. Even with him in his current position, the Bianconeri could do with back-up, but if he shifts into the middle he leaves Paolo De Ceglie as the only long-term solution on the left.
Simone Padoin is 28 and uninspiring, and while he perhaps has a future in the squad, he's not a name many would associate with a Champions League-winning side.
Of course, Kwadwo Asamoah plays on the left, sometimes admirably. But he's a midfielder at heart.The fact that he can jump between No.10 and left back for Ghana is a useful attribute, but at the highest level Juve will still need a truly natural left-sided player to shine.
... and Some Cover on the Right
As wing-backs go, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Mauricio Isla are not bad names to have on your team sheet. But the Swiss is more of a defensive full-back and the Chilean, a more natural player farther up the pitch.
The Emilia-Romagna side have an option to buy 50 percent of the player in the summer, but he's struggling even at that level, so his future remains uncertain. One thing is clear, however: he has no business being in the Juve shirt if Conte really wants a world-beating squad.
Another player at Bologna with links to Turin is the young Frederik Sorensen, who could perhaps play a role in the future of Juve. But at just 20, the Dane might just be too young for Conte to put his trust in.
A Plan-B for Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo is still a world-class player and is showing no signs of fading any time soon. But he'll be 34 in May, and at this stage of his career a serious injury could be disastrous.
Since he joined the Bianconeri from Milan, Pirlo has been reborn and proven himself to be one of the game's all-time greats. Whenever he's been absent, Juve have proved just how good he is—by looking lifeless and often one-dimensional.
Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba have class, but the former Rossonero's vision, passing range, calmness under pressure and ability to dictate the pace of play are probably without equal. So, if the Agnelli family want to spend some money in the summer, they could do a lot worse than finding an understudy for the peerless Pirlo.
Would Paris Saint-Germain let Marco Verratti go, perhaps?
Strikers, Strikers and More Strikers
Nicklas Bendtner is too little and Nicolas Anelka is too late.
If the Dane was half the player he thinks he is, Juventus would have no problems making his loan from Arsenal permanent, but considering that he's yet to score for them, it seems likely that the 25-year-old will be heading back to London at the end of the season.
Anelka, meanwhile, might have been world-class a few seasons ago—but he was let go by Chelsea for a good reason. At 33, the Frenchman is past his best and while his move to Shanghai Shenhua might have been nice for his bank balance, it was as good as a confession that his days as a striker on the biggest European stage were finished.
Fabio Quagliarella is fine and Alessandro Matri is developing into more of a goal threat as his Juve career continues, but for the Bianconeri to be truly complete, they need a truly world-class finisher.
In the league, Quagliarella and Matri combined have scored fewer goals than Stephan El Shaarawy, Edinson Cavani or Antonio Di Natale.
This season, Juventus' strength has been in the unit, with goals coming from across the pitch. But with no player in the league's top 20 scorers, there's an obvious weakness in the box.
Elsewhere in attack, Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic are both excellent players, but to unlock their full potential, they need a point man.