27 Scudetti, 9 Coppa Italias, 3 European Cups, and 3 UEFA Cups. Sounds like a team that should be competing for number one every year. But alas, Juventus, the team described above, have floundered this season. What precipitated this fall? Most of it stems from the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, in which Juventus were stripped of two scudetti (2005 and 2006) and relegated to Serie B. Juve quickly came back to the Serie A and the forefront of Italian football, but they have yet to win a Scudetto since the scandal. They showed promise towards the end of last season under Ciro Ferrara, but he quickly proved to be an ineffective leader. If you ask me, dismissing Claudio Ranieri in the first place was a mistake. As Claudio proved this year with Roma, he is a talented manager, but evidently not talented enough for the Juventus front office. Neither was Ferrara, as he was fired in January and replaced with Alberto Zaccheroni, whose main accomplishment is leading a lucky Milan squad to the Scudetto in the ’98-’99 season. But there is more to the troubles in Turin then bad management.
For a club as successful as Juventus, one would think the squad would be full of world-class players who truly love their team. This is not the case. The defense has been embarrassing, one of the worst in the Serie A. Aside from Chiellini and Caceres, the defense has been a mishmash of over the hill and overrated players. Now, how does Juventus go about fixing their defense? I have some ideas. First off, sell Cannavaro and Legrottaglie. Fabio Cannavaro, the captain of the Italian national team, might have been a great signing when he originally joined Juventus, in 2005, but he proved himself unworthy of a spot on the team after he abandoned Juventus following their relegation to Serie B. I think I know who can replace the aging duo in the backfield. Obviously, only one starter is needed, since the great Giorgio Chiellini is the number one centerback. My choice to fill the other spot is Lorenzo Ariaudo, a young Juventus-owned player who is currently on loan to Cagliari. While Ariaudo hasn’t had that much playing time with the Rosoblu, he has impressed when he has played. I feel that Ariaudo could be a great member of the Juventus defense for years to come.
Now that the centerback situation is resolved, the problems of left and right back need fixing. The left-back situation is in decent condition with Paolo De Ceglie, but Fabio Grosso needs to go. Like his fellow Fabio, Fabio Cannavaro, Grosso is over the hill. What Juve need is a young left-back, much like De Ceglie, to help share time in back, and the perfect man for the job is Domenico Criscito, the left back Juve recently sold to Genoa. A great way to begin rebuilding the team is to buy back this talented youngster. The right back situation is much worse. Zydnek Grygera has been alright, and Juve should keep hold of him for depth. However, Jonathan Zebina should not stay in Turin, not only has his play been sub-par, but he has turned his back on the fans, getting into an altercation with Juventus fans during the Europa League match against Fulham. The man to replace Zebina is already at the club. Martin Caceres, owned by Barcelona but on loan to the side from Turin, has showed that he belongs with the Bianconeri. Not only has he displayed technical ability, but he, unlike some of his teammates, has shown dedication to the team. With a few transfers, both in and out, the left/rightback situation in Turin can be fixed.
The Bianconeri’s midfield isn’t that damaged. While one of last summer’s big transfers, Felipe Melo, has flopped, Marchisio and Sissoko have played well, with Marchisio showing he is ready to be a midfield anchor for years to come. The oldster Camoranesi is talented and able, but he has few productive years left, perhaps Juventus will allow him to see out his playing days with the club. Melo is a lot like the previously mentioned Zebina, ineffective. He also joined Zebina by insulting the fans during after the Europa League match at Fulham. One man who would fit nicely alongside Marchisio and Sissoko is Marek Hamsik. Hamsik has been called the successor to Juve great Pavel Nedved. Who said that? Pavel Nedved himself. Adding Hamsik alongside Sissoko and Marchisio would create a feared trio in the middle of the field. In the attack midfield position, Diego has shone, as has Candreva, and both should stay. Sebastian Giovinco seems to have fallen out of favor with management, and although I would love to see him stay, there is a chance the front office will sell him. There have also been rumors about 23 year old French attacking midfield Yoann Gourcuff, I think Gourcuff would be a great purchase, and Juve would be wise to bring him to Turin. Gourcuff is young, and talented, and reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane, another Frenchman who was a star for Juventus before he finished his career with Real Madrid.
Another one of the Bianconeri’s problems has been a lack of goals. While they have talented forwards, they have had trouble scoring goals. Their most talented striker is the legendary Alessandro Del Piero. Unfortunately, Del Piero is almost 36, and his best days are behind me. This is why they have struggled, Del Piero has had to become their first striker. Amauri, while talented, has struggled with injuries, and must go. Iaquinta should stay, as he has a few good years left. David Trezeguet, the 33 year old Frenchman, is a nice compliment to Iaquinta and Del Piero, and should see out his career in Turin. But, it looks as if management will get rid of him after this season, and so the Juve fans will probably bid adieu to their favored Frenchman. A good replace for Amauri and Trezeguet would be Fernando Torres, who has been rumored to be leaving Anfield for a club such as Chelsea or Man City, but I cannot see him moving to another English team, if he does leave Liverpool, it will be to a non-English team, and Juventus fit that bill. Recently, rumors have said that Juventus are interested in bringing back Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the 28-year old striker currently at Barcelona and who played for Juventus before the Calciopoli scandal. Zlatan has been inconsistent in Spain, but he shined in Italy with both Juventus and then Inter, and so I think a return to Italy will treat him well.
Juventus are lucky to have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Gianluigi Buffon, but it is rumored they will sell him to free up transfer funds. That would not be a good decision. Buffon could still be a good goalkeeper for a number of years. It is simply not worth it to sell him, as any benefits from such a deal would not outweigh the damages.
Juventus have appointed a new manager in Luigi Del Neri, a talented tactician who is fresh off of leading Sampdoria to 4th place and the Champions League, and who before that led a pretty mediocre Atalanta squad to some decent mid-table finishes. Step one of the rebuilding is complete, a solid, experienced coach has been found.
In the end, Juventus will probably end up bouncing back. With solid transfers and a good coach, they can jump back to the summit of Italian football by even next year perhaps. But, if they continue their recent tradition of bad transfers and bad management, they will have a long and tough struggle ahead of them.