With 2015 ending and the new year under way, the resumption of the Serie A season draws ever closer and Juventus will hope to pick up where they left off before Italian football took its annual winter break.
The Italian champions are currently on a winning run that spans their last seven domestic fixtures, with many of the club’s summer signings beginning to shine as the Bianconeri overcome a particularly woeful start.
Daniele Rugani finally earned some much-needed playing time in Juve’s most recent matches, while the importance of Sami Khedira and Alex Sandro has consistently grown over the course of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic have struck up a wonderful attacking partnership that seems to bring the best from both men. Yet that has come at quite a high cost, with Alvaro Morata and Simone Zaza struggling to find the space they need in which to thrive in coach Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
There is hope that the former can rediscover his best form, with the Spanish star’s current plight discussed in detail here. The future of the Italy international appears less certain, though, with reports from CalcioMercato.com (h/t Football Italia) insisting that Zaza has officially asked to leave the club this week.
Despite the official Juventus website showing they spent €18 million to bring Zaza from former club Sassuolo back in the summer, the quality of those aforementioned attacking players has seen the player receive limited playing time in Turin.
But as the Bianconeri return to training ahead of their next fixture—at home to Verona on January 6—there is an inescapable feeling that losing the striker this month would almost certainly be a mistake.
Yet even though he has managed just 368 minutes of action in his 10 appearances for the club to date, the 24-year-old has already scored five times, netting in three different competitions and showing he can deliver when called upon.
Zaza is nowhere near the finished product, of course, as he is currently playing at a big club for the first time, but he has largely adapted well to life with the Bianconeri.
Perhaps his temperament is the biggest issue—he was fortunate not to be sent off in the recent Coppa Italia clash with Torino for a series of outbursts.
Physically and emotionally close to boiling over, Zaza bagged two goals that day, but he was booked for one foul and could easily have seen a red card for a number of others.
However, the man himself believes that playing with that level of intensity is the only way to deliver his best, as he revealed in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport just a few days later.
“Certainly I took some risks, but I was so desperate to play,” Zaza said (h/t Ben Gladwell of ESPN). "And as far as I am concerned, this enthusiasm is not a problem. In fact, it's a positive attitude and the truth is, if I didn't have that fury, then I'd only be an average player.”
He also admitted to initially struggling with Allegri’s tactical approach, and the fact he now fully understands the coach’s methods is a major reason to keep him around.
Finding a better striker who is not cup-tied in Europe would be a huge challenge, and it is surely more intelligent to keep Zaza at least until the end of the season.
Of course, if he is pressing to leave, then it makes little sense to stand in his way, but the former Atalanta and Sampdoria striker has shown he can deliver when Juventus need him to, and the qualities he brings to the side are not easily replaced.