No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you.
Seventh place is not where you would expect to find Juventus on the Serie A table with one game to play—except this is the harsh reality for Juventus fans. It has been a season of suffering during which Juventus has conceded goals at one of the highest rates in the league.
How can it be that a team that looks so good on paper performs so badly? There are a few possible explanations. For one, the subpar coaching has been a factor, and perhaps firing Claudio Ranieri last season wasn't such a good idea after all.
The team has had some injury woes, but the roster is certainly deep enough to compete for a top four spot in the league with the likes of Sampdoria and Palermo (which they really did not).
Another issue seems to be the team's work on the transfer market. The team has spent big with subpar results, and that is what I will focus on. My biggest gripe with Juventus is that they have the best youth system in Italy (and this is coming from a Roma fan), yet they continue to sell off talented youth to finance purchases.
This article will look at the last three seasons' transfers.
Vincenzo Iaquinta from Udinese for 11.25 million euro: This move has probably been one of their better buys over the last three years. Iaquinta has been a pretty reliable player over the last three seasons and has received consistent call ups from the Italian National Team. For the price he has been a pretty economical buy with 34 goals in 84 games in all competitions.
Fabrizio Miccoli to Palermo for 4.3 million euro: This sale was clearly about more than ability after Juve unloaded Miccoli for a cheap rate after he was out on loan at Benfica three years in a row. Miccoli turned into a steal for Palermo. One can only wonder what could have been if Juve and Miccoli could have worked out whatever problems existed between them. He has been one of Serie A's best players this season.
Federico Balzaretti to Fiorentina for 3.8 million euro: The left back position has been a problem for Juve the past couple of years while Balzaretti has turned into a consistent performer for Palermo (where he was sold after a only one season with Fiorentina). Juve can't be blamed too much for this sale since Balzaretti seems to have needed more time to reach his potentiale, something not readily available at a big club like Juve.
Giuseppe Sculli to Genoa (undisclosed amount): He has been a good player for Genoa, but he's probably not up to Juve standards after he was loaned out repeatedly by the club for six years and never wore the Bianconeri shirt.
Daniele Gastaldello to Sampdoria for 1.25 million euro: Gastaldello never suited up for the senior team after coming through the Juve youth ranks, but he has become a starter for the fourth place Sampdoria side. You have to wonder if he could have helped Juve's shaky defense this season.
Mohammed Sissoko from Liverpool for 11 million euro: This has been one of Juve's better buys of the last few years as Sissoko has often provided the muscle in the midfield for Juve. If anything, he has been consistent. He's not a superstar but is solid.
Amauri in from Palermo for 12 million euro, Antonio Nocerino and the co-ownership of Davide Lanzafame: At the beginning of last season this looked like a dream move for Juve. Amauri was a beast up front and was scoring goals for the club. He was being talked up for both the Italian and Brazilian National Teams, but then things went bad and the goals stopped coming. This season has been just as bad as the end of last as he only has five goals. What once looked like a great buy has turned into a nightmare.
Christian Poulsen in from Sevilla for 9.75 million euro: Poulsen was certainly another mistake buy for Juve. He's certainly not up to standard for a top European club. One has to wonder what management saw in him.
Alex Manninger in from Udinese for an undisclosed amount: He has been a great second keeper for Juve and has filled in well for Buffon when injured. This was definetely a good buy.
Antonio Nocerino to Palermo as part of the Amauri deal: Nocerino is not the prettiest of players, but he gets the job done in the midfield. He certainly would have been a better option than buying Poulsen. He's one of the many homegrown players sold off to finance big moves.
Davide Lanzafame to Palermo in co-ownership as part of the Amauri deal: He's still a young player but has shown flashes of his potential, most notably against Juve last weekend when he scored two goals for Parma, where he plays on loan. It's being said that Juve will look to bring him back to Turin, and it's probably a good idea.
Raffaele Palladino to Genoa in co-ownership for 5 million euro: Palladino posseses good attacking ability on the wing. If brought back to Turin he could certainly add some creativity to the right side of the attack. It's being reported that Juve want him back.
Diego in from Werder Bremen for 24.5 million euro: Diego came in with huge expectations, and Juve even altered their formation to have him play behind the strikers. Yet the Brazilian has repeatedly failed to impress over the course of the season. He should have been able to adapt to the Serie A style by now. He has been rated the worst transfer of the Serie A season by many.
Felipe Melo in from Fiorentina for 25 million euro: Another Brazilian brought in by Juve who has failed to live up to high expectations. He was supposed to strengthen the Juve midfield and bring the muscle, but he has failed to do so. He has hurt the team more often than he has helped it, and Juve paid a hefty price with few results. He ranks as one of the worst transfers in Serie A with teammate Diego.
Fabio Grosso in from Lyon for 2 million euro: When Juve made this deal it looked like a bargain price, but Grosso has had a nightmare of a season. You can't blame Juve for making this deal at this price, but unfortunately Grosso can't replicate his national team form at the club level.
Marco Marchionni to Fiorentina for 4.5 million euro: Marchionni was a solid player for Juve the last two years but was seen as surplus, and the move was right for both sides.
Domenico Criscito to Genoa on co-ownership for 5.5 million euro: Criscito was on loan at Genoa the year before and played well enough for Genoa to take him on co-ownership. One has to wonder, though, how a team like Juve with so many issues at left back didn't bring Criscito back to Turin rather than buy Grosso. He has developed into a national team player and Juve needs him back.
Antonio Candreva in on loan with an option of co-ownership from Udinese: This looks like a smart move for Juve. Candreva was great for Livorno before his arrival and has shown potential at Juve. He has done enough to make Italy's provisional World Cup roster. He is definitely a player that Juve should try and bring in on a permenant basis.
As you can see Juve has had more bad purchases than good ones over the last three seasons, and this must be changed if they are going to compete for the Scudetto. They need to start building around their young core players like Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio. If they are able unload some of their mistakes, bring back some of their co-owned players, make smart buys, and work in some of their talented youth they can begin to compete at the top of the league again.
Corriere dello Sport is reporting that basically the whole roster is available on the transfer market except for Chiellini, Marchisio, and talisman Alessandro Del Piero. The newspaper says Juve will look to make five quality purchases with three on the wings between the midfield and defense, a central midfielder, and a center forward.
In addition player exchange deals will be explored. First and foremost, a possible exchange to send Amauri back to Sicily for young Danish center back Simon Kjaer is being explored. This would be a great move for present and future as he would pair nicely with Chiellini for a long time.
The paper says Juve will return to a 4-4-2 formation and has dropped some possible names to be brought in. Players Sagna, Maggio, Van der Wiel, Rafinha, Kolarova, and Criscito are being talked about as possible wingers. In the center of the midfield David Silva, Joaquin, Kuyt, Malouda, and Krasic are being mentioned. In attack Pazzini is the main target, with Dzeko as an alternative.
Also, Lanzafame and Palladino will be brought back to strengthen the attack. If Juve can unload the right players and make some good buys from their reported targets, they could put together a good team.
I'll leave you a possible 4-4-2 formation if some of these players are brought in. How do you feel about Juve's past transfers, and who they should buy this summer to fix their woes?