Late in the summer of 2006, Italy’s World Cup was quickly consigned to history as Juventus were relegated to Serie B following the end of the Calciopoli trials. As a result, they lost a number of first-team regulars, as star players fled Turin amid concerns about just how badly the Bianconeri would be punished.
Unsure of when they would see their beloved side back among the elite of European football, the club’s fans consoled themselves with the fact the team would finally be filled with their promising home-grown players. Turned out year after year by one of the country's most successful youth team setups, they were previously destined to spend their years being loaned around the league or used as leverage in deals for players who could help win trophies in now rather than later.
Even with Luciano Moggi and others gone, Claudio Marchisio still had to fight for his place with a number of more famous imports, as Juve sought to quickly return to glory. He rose to the challenge, eventually becoming a first-team regular despite the presence of names like Tiago, Momo Sissoko and Christian Poulsen.
Winning goals, like the one against Inter in the Derby d'Italia, saw his stock rise significantly, earning a place in the Italy squad and regularly drawing praise as one of his nation’s finest midfielders. Marchisio, however, was not without his critics, often accused of inconsistent or indifferent performances and described as "invisible" on a number of occasions.
Yet to people who see past the match highlights and scoresheet, the midfielder became vital in many different ways, and the arrival of Antonio Conte saw him raise his game further still. No longer asked to play out of position, he netted nine goals and added four assists as the club secured their first title since that enforced relegation.
Last season, he continued in his role alongside Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo, helping the Old Lady to repeat her 2011-12 Scudetto victory with ease. This summer, however, the 28-year-old would be shifted to the bench, sacrificed in order to allow Paul Pogba to thrive as the young Frenchman began to realise the immense potential first recognised by Manchester United.
That led to speculation the Turin native would be sold, with David Moyes famously scouting him on a trip to Cagliari, per ESPN, as the discussion turned to whether Juventus should cash in on a player who had now become a reserve. That prompted Beppe Marotta to refute the idea he was for sale, the club’s director general telling Radio Rai (h/t ESPN):
There is no problem with Marchisio. Claudio is a player who grew up in the Juventus youth teams and he loves the shirt. During a busy season it is inevitable that every player will have their lows, but everything is normal.
Since then, the player so beloved by his fans has gone from strength to strength, filling in superbly for Vidal and Pirlo, and his performances in place of the latter were particularly excellent. His newly rediscovered importance to the team was evident in his performance on Monday night against Sassuolo, netting the vital second goal as Juventus overturned a surprising early deficit.
His intelligence and positional awareness allow him to play all those roles equally well, and he has averaged 2.3 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game this term, according to WhoScored.com. His passing has been notably improved this term, completing 86.6 percent of all attempts, according to the same source. That constantly keeps the attack flowing for La Madama.
He has now made 19 starts this term, much more than it was felt he would in the early part of the season, and he has once more established his place in the starting XI. There are more eye-catching names in the Bianconeri lineup, many who grab more headlines and attention, but few players mean as much to Juventus as Claudio Marchisio.