Juventus and the Summer Transfer Window: Still Plenty of Work To Be Done
Juventus manager Ciro Ferrara said he wanted to have his team's summer transfer business wrapped up when they meet for summer training the second week of July.
After spending €24.5 million on Brazilian playmaker Diego and securing the free transfer of Fabio Cannavaro, many thought that sporting director Alessio Secco was going to have things done in a hurry. If he could get the Diego deal done so quickly, any other potential deal would be cake.
Well, that was until negotiations with certain players have taken twists and turns resulting in them going longer than most expected.
Now with just a few short days to go before training begins in Pinzolo, no moves have been made since and, as a result, there is still plenty of work to be done to consider Juve a serious threat to Inter's Scudetto reign.
The name that has gotten the most attention in recent weeks is Udinese midfielder Gaetano D'Agostino, a player who would certainly add so much to not only the midfield, but also the entire team, aiding both sides of the ball.
However, with Udinese playing hardball and keeping firm ground on their asking price, a deal doesn't seem likely at this point. Juventus seem to be set on the price they want to pay for D'Agostino, as well, so if the two teams want to do business, somebody is going to have to budge.
The deal stalling has led the media to link the Old Lady with up-and-coming Fiorentina midfielder Felipe Melo, but D'Agostino should remain Secco's No. 1 priority.
And after failing to land Xabi Alonso last season, Secco can't afford to let the chance to get a big-time center midfielder fall through.
Still, even if D'Agostino is brought to Turin, there's still the defense that needs improving.
After the inconsistent way they played in the second half of the season, there are serious concerns over how to improve it.
The answer isn't and shouldn't just be the signing of Cannavaro.
Cannavaro's so-so showing at the Confederations Cup didn't do anything to put whispers to rest that he is the solution to Juve's defensive questions. He'll be 36 once the season begins and didn't do much in his three seasons in Spain to show that he still has a lot left in the tank.
It's a legitimate concern, isn't it?
Adding to the confusion of what Secco's plan of attack to bolster the defense, he sold veteran defender Olof Mellberg to Greek club Olympiakos for €2.5 million just one year after he arrived on a free transfer. He wasn't the best defender to play week-after-week, but he was certainly a very good person to have off the bench and fill-in if he needed to.
So, in comes Cannavaro and out goes Mellberg — that means there's still a hole to be filled in the center of the defense and another option to play out wide heading out the door.
Secco could promote 19-year-old youth product Lorenzo Ariaudo to be a full-time member of the senior team, but if he wants to hit the market for another option, he isn't going to a better one than Mellberg for the price he sold him for.
With Ferrara likely switching to a 4-3-1-2 formation, the fullbacks being used won't have to be only sound defensively, but also offensively. They will have to be able to serve up quality crosses to the strikers, something that wasn't consistent a year ago.
Most of the talk has been to improve the left back position. The starter for the past two years, Cristian Molinaro, has improved but still isn't a top-notch player that Juve have had in the past.
The ideal pick for next season's left back spot would be Domenico Criscito, who has impressed in his year-and-a-half on loan at Genoa. He did state that he would like to return to Turin, but Genoa have taken advantage of a deal in the loan deal to buy half of Criscito's contract for €5.5 million.
So, where does that leave Secco?
The name that seems the most likely to come to Turin to play on the left is Lyon's Fabio Grosso. The 32-year-old Italian may not be playing at the same kind of level that he was three years ago at the World Cup in Germany, but he is still a viable option, and a relatively cheap one at that.
The money that Secco would save bringing Grosso could be used to reel in D'Agostino from Udinese. With Juve having a fixed transfer budget, having a few extra euros is always a good thing.
Most of the attention improving the defense has been centered of finding a left; however, there is the need to improve the right back position.
The level of Zdenek Grygera played last year was nowhere close to how he played his first season in Turin. He looked tired, didn't add much offensively, and struggled on the defensive side of the ball, as well.
However, with Secco seemingly solely concentrated on improving the left, few options have been discussed to bring in to play on the right wing. Napoli's Fabiano Santacroce has been a name linked to Juve recently, but nothing seems to be happening at this time.
No matter who the Italian press links them to, Juventus still have to improve both in the middle of the park and their defense. It's not a secret that when they were winning, their defense was playing on equal terms as the offense.
But at this time, upgrades are needed and the board knows it.
Ferrara says there are still deals to be made on the market, so it's just a matter of when a move will happen and who will be coming aboard.
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