Analysing what lies ahead in the summer transfer market for Juventus is, still four months before the window opens, extremely difficult. Recent seasons have seen the Turin giants make a number of surprising moves that would have been tough to predict in advance.
From the brilliant free-agent signing of Milan legend Andrea Pirlo, to the wonderfully timed capture of Arturo Vidal, Beppe Marotta has completed some incredible transfer business. He has also sealed deals for Nicklas Bendtner and Marco Borriello, players it would have been equally difficult to imagine in the famous Bianconeri shirts for very different reasons.
Over the following pages we take a look at what needs the two-time defending Champions may have once June arrives, as well as which players could possibly fill them.
The first step in entering the transfer market is to understand just how the team will play in the following season. While Antonio Conte initially showed much tactical flexibility, the past 18 months have seen him employ the 3-5-2 formation almost exclusively.
Having experimented with a number of other tactical frameworks, the coach has clearly decided that is the one best suited to his squad. Domestically speaking, it is impossible to argue with results but European competition—particularly the Champions League—has perhaps highlighted its limitations.
Heavy losses to Bayern Munich in last season’s quarter-finals appeared to have shown Conte that change was essential, and resulted in a switch against Real Madrid earlier this term. Two excellent performances against the Spanish side showed how effective the 4-3-3 can be, but that would certainly require one or two big additions.
Despite boasting an excellent defensive record, a move to utilising a four-man defence would almost certainly require a new signing at the back. Of the current squad, Giorgio Chiellini is perhaps best suited to the role, but moving the team’s best central defender out wide would clearly be a mistake.
Angelo Ogbonna or Kwadwo Asamoah could also fill in there, as could Martin Caceres or Federico Peluso, but any of the four would be a compromise. To truly compete at the highest level, a specialist would be essential.
While Turin daily paper TuttoSport has spoken of a move for the out-of-contract Patrice Evra, the fact he will be 33 by the summer would almost certainly rule him out. Recently linked with Milan (h/t ForzaItalianFootball), Davide Santon is an ideal option.
The Newcastle full-back has been impressive this season, averaging 1.7 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game according to stats site WhoScored. Still only 23, the former Inter man fits both the playing style and approach of the Bianconeri.
The other issue caused by a change in formation would be the core of attacking players at the club. While blame for the collapsed exchange of Mirko Vucinic and Fredy Guarin was placed solely with Inter, it showed the Montenegrin striker’s days in Turin are coming to a close.
The same can also be said of Fabio Quagliarella, who has been left out of Juve’s squad for the Europa League (via official club website). With him likely headed to Lazio (h/t FootballItalia), Pablo Osvaldo has arrived to replace the out-of-favour duo.
Yet if those two players depart, even making his deal permanent would only leave Conte with four strikers. Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente have formed a formidable partnership, but more attacking talent would be needed.
Director General Beppe Marotta has done some excellent business in securing some of Italy’s best youngsters, and this could present the perfect opportunity to field one or two of them.
Juventus youth product Ciro Immobile is enjoying an impressive campaign with cross-town rivals Torino, and that move would perhaps make it tough for the 23-year-old to return home. Yet his form makes him impossible to ignore as he trails only Giuseppe Rossi in terms of goals, with 13 to his name already this season.
However, he would also not provide the tactical flexibility required, helping make constant links to Manchester United’s Nani despite Juve’s lack of interest (h/t MirrorSport). The same cannot be said of the co-owned Manolo Gabbiadini who can play out wide, but it is the acquisition of Domenico Berardi this past summer which now seems like a masterstroke.
Fielded largely as a winger by Sassuolo, the 19-year-old has taken Serie A by storm, netting 12 times and capturing the attention of some much bigger clubs. Juventus already own 50 per cent of the player, making it almost impossible for anyone else to now sign him, and are likely to have a cost-effective way of buying out the newly promoted side's share.
His talent—analysed in great detail here by JuventiKnows—is undeniable and he would be the perfect player to compliment a new formation.