5 Replacements If Arturo Vidal Is Sold by Juventus
Arturo Vidal has been Juventus' best player the last three years. Under the tutelage of Antonio Conte the Chilean international has developed into the best box-to-box midfielder in the world—and I would argue the best player, period.
No player in the world has Vidal's combination of defensive, passing and finishing ability.
A player of his caliber will naturally generate a mountain of transfer buzz. Vidal has continually brushed off rumors that he could be headed to one of the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid or Barcelona. Club director Giuseppe Marotta has repeatedly asserted that Juve does not consider themselves a selling club—a position reasserted in April to Sky Sports (h/t Football Italia).
Given Marotta's insistence that Juve will keep their stars and Vidal's close relationship with Conte, it's hard to see him leaving. That said, if an offer came that was so indecent it was impossible to refuse, it can never be 100 percent counted out.
If the unthinkable were to happen and Il Guerriero (The Warrior) left the club, how would Juve replace him? Let's take a look at a quintet of candidates that might be asked to fill Vidal's massive cleats.
Koke has been playing first-team minutes for Atletico Madrid for so long that that it's difficult to remember that he's only 22.
Statistically, he was absolutely brilliant this season. WhoScored.com clocked him at seven goals and 15 assists between La Liga and the Champions League, while he also chipped in 2.8 tackles, a good number given the role he plays.
Like Diego Costa, Koke is a candidate to leave Atletico after their excellent season. Jason Burt of The Telegraph pegged him as a major Chelsea target, but with Cesc Fabregas now in the fold at Stamford Bridge it's unlikely that he'll be wearing blue next season.
There have been no real rumblings of Juve throwing their hat in the ring for the Spanish international, but they could become contenders, especially if Vidal (or Paul Pogba) were to depart Turin.
Still, this is likely to be mere wishful thinking unless something else happens in the transfer market.
An internal option, Fausto Rossi spent the year on loan at Real Valladolid. He was catapulted into the spotlight momentarily when he scored the lone goal in a massive 1-0 upset of Barcelona but couldn't keep the club in Spain's top flight.
Rossi was a key cog in the Italy U21 team that made the final of the U21 European Championships last summer and is a good defensive player. As a passer he hasn't been hugely impressive at club level, although he completed 87.3 percent of his passes in Israel last summer, per WhoScored.
In March he told Rai Sport (h/t Football Italia) that he would like to "make life a bit difficult for the Juventus directors." He could very well be an important depth piece this year—and if any openings come up in Juve's midfield he could have the chance to step up and take the opportunity.
He has much to prove, but also much to gain.
Chelsea has an insane amount of attacking midfielders on their squad. There's no way that they can sustain that kind of logjam. Someone will eventually have to go. Whether or not Vidal leaves, it would behoove Juve to keep an eye on who will shake loose from that traffic jam.
Willian might be the player to go. Eden Hazard and Oscar will be far more difficult to move, and Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah only just arrived at Stamford Bridge this winter.
This isn't just a stab in the dark. TuttoMercatoWeb.com reported in March that Juve had sent scouts to watch Chelsea's Champions League match against Galatasaray, apparently with Willian and Oscar the chief targets.
Oscar would likely be out of Juve's price range (as well as unavailable) but his fellow Brazilian is far closer to reach.
WhoScored clocked Willian at four goals and two assists last year, but he only appeared in 25 league games (18 of them starts) and didn't have a closely defined role, playing at least five different positions.
In Antonio Conte's system he would likely be starting regularly and in a well-defined position. Compared with Vidal there is an obvious defensive trade-off, but as an attacking player he would thrive in Turin.
Atalanta's Giacomo Bonaventura has been gradually emerging over the last few years.
An attacking midfielder, the youngster first garnered attention in Serie B in 2010-11, scoring nine times in 31 games. After scoring twice in 29 appearances in his first top-flight season he broke out in 2012-13 with seven strikes and two assists. He followed that with five goals and three more helpers this past season, per WhoScored.
While he doesn't offer the defensive attributes Vidal is so rightly celebrated for, he did average 2.3 tackles per match this season—respectable for a player who usually lives in an advanced position.
Bonaventura has admitted to being a Juventus fan growing up, and this past August Football Italia cited a report from local paper L'Eco di Bergamo that Bonaventura was keen on pushing through a switch to Juve that summer.
If such rumors are true, the player is clearly open to a switch. While he wouldn't provide the Bianconeri with the same kind of defense that Vidal does, he would be an admirable replacement to the Chilean's attacking contribution. With the quality surrounding him at Juventus Stadium he could be a candidate for 10 goals a season.
A true workhorse, the Brazilian has played in 69 games over the last two seasons for Udinese since arriving from Brazilian side Vasco da Gama. In those two years he has notched seven assists from his holding midfield role and completed an efficient 83.4 percent of his passes.
The most defensive option on this list, Allan is nowhere close to Vidal when it comes to attacking. Should he be put into the Chilean's place Juve would become much more reliant on Paul Pogba or Claudio Marchisio for a goalscoring threat from midfield.
That said, his defensive abilities set him apart from a lot of Serie A's other mids, and he would be a valuable man to have in the team regardless of whether Vidal is sold.
There are currently no rumors connecting him with Turin, but if Vidal were to leave the Bianconeri would be considering a lot more options.