Following their disastrous season in 2009/10, Juventus moved quickly to make the best possible moves in order to ensure their swift return to the elite of both Italian and European football. Beppe Marotta's arrival from Sampdoria was, along with Andrea Agnelli's appointment as President, the most significant move made by the club since its 2007 return to Serie A.
As everyone knows, Luigi Delneri's arrival as coach means the team will likely be fielded in a 4-4-2 formation, and immediately this meant the squad was ill-equipped to fulfill the tactician's requirements. The lack of width in attack was a constant issue last season, and the new set-up made addressing it even more pressing.
With his right-hand man Fabio Paratici joining him from 'Doria, Marotta immediately set about his task. His first signing told us much about both the way he operates, and the type of player this Juventus will target.
Simone Pepe, of Udinese, became the first signing of this new era. A player seemingly just on the cusp of the national team, hungry for success and recognition. These attributes, along with his age—still just 26—show a swift departure from the previous regime which saw too many aging, well-known veterans arrive, alongside expensive foreign imports. Young, gifted and Italian seems to be the mantra here.
But it is in the details of the transfer where Marotta's ability truly reveals itself. Not only has he secured a talented winger, he has structured the deal in such a way that Juventus cannot lose.
Paying just €2.6 million to secure a one-year loan means the player will have to work hard and prove his quality in order to convince the club to exercise the option to make the deal permanent—an option Marotta has agreed for a further €7.5 million, spread over three years.
A chance to see the player earn his move, a low fee, and the luxury of spreading that fee over time is surely the equivalent of a hat-trick in the circles Marotta operates. He reinforced that view with similar moves for Catania's Uruguayan winger Jorge Martinez, and a quality back-up goalkeeper in Milan's Marco Storari who played under Delneri at Sampdoria last season.
More impressive moves for promising fullback Marco Motta (an identically structured hat-trick) and, most importantly Leonardo Bonucci will quickly improve on last seasons poor defence. Along with Giorgio Chiellini and Gigi Buffon, Juventus now have the pieces in place for Delneri to forge an impressive unit that can serve both club and country for a number of seasons.
It is now that for Marotta the real work arguably begins. With the needs reduced to perhaps another winger, a left back, and a goal scorer, specific players must be targeted. In addition, the squad is definitely far too big and a number of players will need to leave
This is where Alessio Secco was truly shown to be inadequate for the role. During his spell, not one sale that benefited Juventus was made. With David Trezeguet, Mauro Camoranesi, Zdenek Grygera, Jonathan Zebina, and Fabio Grosso all surplus to requirements, Marotta really has much work to do.
There is also a list of players—Felipe Melo, Diego, and Amauri among them—with whom the club would probably willing to part, but only at the right price.
It is perhaps in selling some or ideally all of these players—rather than securing further new arrivals—where Marotta will be ultimately jugged. Many are coming to the end of their careers, and on big contracts. and convincing them their future lies away from the grandeur and prestige of Turin will be far from easy.
He has made a great start to life at Juventus, but at the moment it is exactly that—a start. A man of Marotta's intelligence will not rest on his laurels, nor believe the good press currently coming in his direction. His work can only truly be assessed at the end of the transfer window, until then all we can do is watch him work—and have faith Juventus now have the right man guiding them.
This article first appeared at Il Tifosi