Juventus: How They've Attacked the Summer Transfer Window and Why
This summer has been a shocking one for Juventus fans. As the World Cup wound down they expected at least one big-name signing to help Antonio Conte finally reach the rarefied air of Europe's elite.
Now, the talismanic coach has left the team, while the biggest names Juve were linked with in the market—Alexis Sanchez and Juan Manuel Iturbe—have been gobbled up by other clubs. Juve have instead invested in longer-term projects and role players—and have suddenly found themselves fighting to keep their best players.
Who has come in? Who has been shown the door? Why have Juve conducted their transfer market the way they have thus far? Let's delve into it and find out.
Notable players leaving: ST Dani Osvaldo (Southampton, loan ended), LB/LWB Federico Peluso (Sassuolo, €4.5 million), ST Mirko Vucinic (Al Jazira, €6.3 million), ST Fabio Quagliarella (€3.5 million), ST Ciro Immobile (co-owned with Torino, sold to Borussia Dortmund, Juve receives €8 million), ST Simone Zaza (co-ownership resolution with Sassuolo, €7.5 million)
A lot of Juve's outgoing activity thus far has involved co-ownership renewals, loans out and simple housecleaning. The notable exceptions concern academy product Ciro Immobile and young striker Simone Zaza.
Immobile was last year's capocannoniere (Serie A's leading scorer) at Torino, and Juve fans were all for bringing him back to the fold. Immobile, however, had likely grown tired of waiting for the chance to break in with the Bianconeri and similarly wasn't likely to relish the idea of competing with Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez for playing time. Instead he moves to a good situation at Borussia Dortmund, where he will replace Robert Lewandowski in a system that looks perfect for him.
Zaza, on the other hand, is likely still very much in Juve's plans. Even though they sold their half of the striker to Sassuolo, the Bianconeri still control his destiny. Respected Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio reported when the transfer went down that the agreement included a €15 million buyback clause—although it's not clear what the window is for Juve to activate it.
Zaza scored nine times in 33 games last season after scoring 18 in Serie B with Ascoli in 2012-13. The Bianconeri were smart to keep a finger on him with the buyback clause. Last season Zaza developed good chemistry with phenom winger Domenico Berardi, another Juve project.
Juve renewed Berardi's co-ownership deal with Sassuolo for one more year, but the Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia) reported last week that a €14 million fee has already been fixed to finally bring the youngster to Turin next summer. If Juve can get the two of them together in their setup when fully developed, the result could be frightening.
Beyond those two, the people who have left the team are spare parts. Mirko Vucinic's Jekyll-and-Hyde form up front won't help the team move to the next level. Federico Peluso works hard and could have been a decent option as backup at the left-back position, but he's never going to be anything more than a squad player on a team as big as Juve.
Quagliarella is a sad case of what could have been. Brought in from Napoli four years ago, Quags hit the ground running with nine goals in the first half of the 2010-11 season but tore his right ACL in the first game back from the winter break. His injury saw Luigi Del Neri's team crumble and fall from second to seventh in the standings.
A hard worker who has always come through in big games and produced some fantastic bicycle-kick goals, Quagliarella will be missed in the hearts of fans, but on the field it was time for him to go.
Notable players arriving: ST Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid, €20 million), M Kingsley Coman (PSG, free), LB Patrice Evra (Manchester United, €1.2 million), M/W Roberto Pereyra (Udinese, loan with option, €1.5 million)
Juve's incoming transfers have mostly underwhelmed fans. After the World Cup, the biggest name on the target list was Chilean international Alexis Sanchez. It was reported by Football Italia that Sanchez's original preference was to return to Italy, where he had spent three successful seasons with Udinese. He was persuaded, however, to join Arsenal, thanks mostly to wage offers that were double what he got at Barcelona and far beyond Juve's ability to match.
The second option for that desperately needed wing player was Hellas Verona's Juan Manuel Iturbe. Juve was reported by Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia) to be in "decisive talks" for the player," but the departure of Antonio Conte saw the move crumble. The Argentine was sold to Roma a few days after Conte's surprise resignation.
Football Italia later relayed statements Verona director Sean Sogliano made to Sky Sport Italia concerning the breakdown of the Iturbe deal. The Bianconeri had wanted to use Fabio Quagliarella to reduce the monetary cost of the switch, but Verona couldn't afford to pay him what he wanted. During the impasse, Roma was able to swoop in. The same report alluded to rumors that Iturbe's agent wanted more control over the player than Juventus was willing to give him.
Juve has made one marquee buy in Spanish striker Alvaro Morata. The striker failed repeatedly to displace Karim Benzema in Real Madrid's regular starting XI, but he is absurdly talented.
Last summer he managed to win the Golden Boot at the U21 European Championships despite starting only two of Spain's five matches. He is currently on the shelf with a knee injury after a training-ground collision with third-string goalkeeper Rubinho, but when he is healthy and on the field Juve will have a potent weapon on their hands.
Other moves the team has made have given the team an element of flexibility that it lacked last season, but none are eye-popping.
Kingsley Coman and Roberto Pereyra have untapped potential that, if mined correctly, can turn into incredible buys—but that may not be realized immediately, if at all. Evra gives the team a viable left-back for the first time in years but is no more than a temporary option at the position.
The impending acquisition of Verona's Romulo—Sky Sport Italia (via Football Italia) reports the move is all but official—is also a lower-profile move that brings the team depth and versatility but not star power.
Why It's Been Done
Why has Giuseppe Marotta done what he's done this summer? Why has a transfer window that started out with such promise become so underwhelming?
The answer comes in several parts. The departure of Antonio Conte obviously changed things. His replacement, Massimiliano Allegri, likely does not inspire the confidence that Conte, one of the world's bright young coaching stars, does in a potential signing. The tactical tweaks Allegri may make probably make whatever list the team may have had obsolete. The coaching change forced the team to start from scratch.
Another ever-present factor is the Italian economic crisis.
Juventus has been insulated from the country's financial problems more than most clubs thanks to the Juventus Stadium. The palatial ground was Italy's first club-owned stadium, and the boost in matchday revenue and incomes from sources like the team's museum have certainly helped the team through the tough times.
But that doesn't mean that the club is exempt from the struggle. There is a limit to what Juve can pay in transfer fees and in wages—which are less visible but equally as important. Until the financial climate on the Italian peninsula gets better, Juve will always have a weight around their neck in the transfer market.
A third reason is a temporary hindrance that will eventually turn into a huge strength: the Continassa project.
Last June, Juve signed an agreement with the city of Turin turning over 180,000 square meters of land in the Continassa district for the club to develop. Last week, the club announced the details of the building plan. It will include a completely new headquarters and training ground, along with a park, shops, a school and a memorial to the victims of the Heysel disaster.
The project still has four months before the red tape is fully cleared for it to proceed, and once that's through it's estimated that it will take slightly less than two years for construction to be completed.
Once it is done, the benefits will be immense. The income from the completed project will go a long way toward making up the shortfall between Juve and some of Europe's bigger players. The new headquarters and training ground will leave the team's current home at Vinovo to the club's youth system. The instant upgrade would lay the groundwork for what could become one of the better youth facilities around.
The problem is that that's all in the future—and to get there the club will have to spend several hundred million Euros.
Until Continassa is a finished product, it will be a financial millstone around the club's neck and may require a few fallow transfer windows before Juve can truly reap the benefits.
Juve wants to be a buying club. One day again they will be on a level with Real Madrid or Chelsea in terms of spending power.
Until that is a reality, they need to improve the team with under-the-radar signings, highlighted by larger ones like Morata. They also need to build with young talent—something they have done well in recent years.
Berardi, Zaza, Manolo Gabbiadini, Daniele Rugani, Nicola Leali and Alberto Masi are all talented youngsters whom Juve snapped up early and farmed out for development in order to eventually reap the benefits from their relatively small investments later on.
Juve's fans were expecting more, but this window—and likely a few more—are pointed towards the future. Fans can only wonder what it holds.