Juventus Transfer Tips: Tactics and New Faces Needed in Midfield
So far, in this series of articles looking at the needs of Juventus in the summer transfer window, the need for a goal scorer and some replacements in defence have been identified. This would rectify two major problems for the club this season: scoring goals at one end and keeping them out at the other.
Getting a solid defence and some guaranteed goals is a good starting point, but what that fails to do is assess the reason behind the struggle that has been Juventus in the 2009-10 season. Midfield is where everything has gone wrong, lacking shape, creativity, ideas, and direction, a perfect reflection of the greater ills affecting the club as a whole.
The midfield has been criticised for not creating enough opportunities for the strikers, which is a fair analysis. Having too many defense-minded midfielders is cause for concern, but with that said, the current unit has offered precious little protection to an already poor defence. Juve had, at the time of writing, conceded more goals than Atalanta, who sit in the relegation zone.
A number of factors are to blame here, but mainly it is down to the errors in tactics and selection. The lineup has changed so often, and the lack of a passer in central midfield has caused many problems, especially when utilising a three-man midfield. Felipe Melo and Momo Sissoko both have been asked, at different times, to play the "regista " role, which neither man is remotely capable of doing.
Going back to 4-4-2 should have removed this dilemma, yet Manager Alberto Zaccheroni has repeatedly paired Melo and Sissoko, pushing the much more effective Claudio Marchisio out to the wing.
This cannot continue. The young Italian possesses qualities that no other player on the squad does, and he needs to play centrally, preferably alongside Sissoko, whose defensive qualities make him a valuable asset.
But here is where the conundrum begins: What, or more appropriately who, to field around them? Indeed the more you look, the more 4-4-2 becomes a natural fit for the squad, or perhaps even 4-4-1-1 set up.
With the central pair in place, decisions need to be made over Christian Poulsen and Melo. The Dane could remain to offer cover for Claudio Marchisio, for what he lacks in dynamism he makes up for with passing ability. Melo may also remain as the alternative to Sissoko. Without a serious offer to take him from Turin, a second season to prove his worth may be in order.
The loan of Antonio Candreva is another topic of discussion. A player of his type is never going to shine on a struggling side, and perhaps wide on the right, similar to the role Mauro Camoranesi occupied for Marcello Lippi, coming more centrally at times, is the role for Candreva to grow into.
Lippi's Juve is an ideal blueprint for this team. The "trequartista " role has been nullified in Serie A by deep-lying midfielders stifling the space, denying time to create. In these circumstances, Diego's struggles become more understandable and rightly invoke memories of Pavel Nedved's early days in the Juventus shirt.
He too started in that role behind the strikers, much like the Brazilian, and Zinedine Zidane before him. All three had poor starts, with the two Balon d'Or winners eventually moving to the left of midfield and making the position their own.
A similar switch might benefit Diego, allowing him to come inside as the situation dictates. Nedved's stellar Champions League semifinal performance in Madrid came in an identical role, and is the perfect platform for the new recruit to rediscover the form that made him such hot property this time last year.
Sebastian Giovinco and even Paolo De Ceglie can cover the same role, or play as orthodox wide players in a 4-4-1-1, with Diego moving behind a lone-striker—another position in which Giovinco can offer cover. All are better solutions than the current mismatched lineups.
New additions may come in to replace Mauro Camoranesi and Hasan Salihamidzic, while the futures of Melo, Candreva and Poulsen are far from assured. Names of targets are less clear here than in other areas, but CSKA Moscow's highly-rated winger Milos Krasic is a viable alternative to Candreva, while other possible arrivals include Jérémy Toulalan of Lyon and Bremen's Mesut Ozil.
One name not yet fully in the frame is Juan Manuel Vargas of Fiorentina. This would be a more expensive move, as Fiorentina are unlikely to hand over a star in the making unless serious money changes hands, much in the same way they ensured they received maximum value for Melo. This means it may be dependant on the future of Giovinco, who, it seems increasingly likely, is to be used as a bargaining chip with either Sampdoria or Palermo.
A move for Juan Vargas may then materialise, as it would mean the club had saved funds in securing Giampaolo Pazzini or Simon Kjaer. The left-footed Peruvian has impressed many Serie A observers with his pace, powerful shot, and a fantastic crossing ability. His ability to play as a more defensive option would give Juventus even greater tactical flexibility and a depth that has been missing all too often this season.
Players need the stability their natural positions offer as well as a tactical framework from which to operate. This year they have had neither, and that is the difficulty facing the midfielders more than anyone. This is important too, as the more pressing needs in both defence and attack will take the majority of available funds. More of a technical solution than a drastic shift in midfield personnel is required for this Juventus to be successful.
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