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Imagining Juventus' Midfield with Chelsea's Oscar in It

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistMay 10, 2016

Chelsea's Oscar during their English Premier League soccer match against Newcastle United at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Scott Heppell/Associated Press

As they await the Coppa Italia final on May 21, Juventus have already begun thinking about next season, which means contemplating what the forthcoming transfer market may hold for the Italian champions.

They were boosted last week by the news that coach Massimiliano Allegri had signed a new two-year contract with the club, with the man himself already thinking ahead to the 2016/17 campaign.

Speaking to the club’s official website as the deal was announced, the Juve boss said that his role “is a great challenge and a big responsibility,” before going on to say that “it will be even more exciting when we start work on our future objectives this summer.”

JuventusFC @juventusfcen

OFFICIAL: @OfficialAllegri signs Juventus contract extension until 2018: https://t.co/Dvr49TD999 #Allegri2018 https://t.co/EqkX70FRsb

The main target appears to be a playmaker, with La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia) reporting last month that Allegri wants to switch to a 4-3-1-2 formation in order to succeed in Europe and that would mean signing such a player.

Italy’s pink sports paper mentioned Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a potential target, while the former AC Milan boss discussed a number of candidates in an interview with La Repubblica (h/t beIN Sports) last year:

I would like a footballing inventor - they are never boring. A wildcard in the line-up can bring a different balance to the table. Ego in moderate amounts is not harmful to a team's health. I like Real Madrid's Isco and Brazil's Oscar, while among the young Italians there is much to admire in [Domenico] Berardi and [Federico] Bernardeschi.

While the latter pair remain promising prospects for the future, the idea of an established player such as Mkhitaryan or Oscar would help Juventus make a leap in quality and compete with Europe’s elite clubs.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19:  Oscar of Chelsea scores their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and Juventus at Stamford Bridge on September 19, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As their UEFA Champions League clash with Bayern Munich back in March proved, the gap to those sides has decreased significantly and—with a little luck—Allegri is right to believe the Bianconeri can triumph in that competition.

It would mean a shift from the 3-5-2 framework that has been at the heart of Juve’s solidity in recent campaigns, a tactical switch the coach has performed regularly but now seems ready to make more permanent.

Taking out a defender for such a player would allow the Old Lady to field a four-man defence, where she already has four excellent central defenders—Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele Rugani—to choose from.

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 24:  Paulo Dybala (R) of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring the opening goal with team mate Paul Pogba during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on January 24, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Vale
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Alex Sandro, Patrice Evra and Stephan Lichtsteiner provide depth at full-back, while the midfield trio of Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba and Sami Khedira is ably supported by the likes of Mario Lemina and Stefano Sturaro.

Bringing in a player such as Oscar would help the strikers break down well-organised defences, despite the Brazilian enduring a difficult 2015/16 campaign in which his impact waned severely.

The 24-year-old has weighed in with just eight goals and four assists for Chelsea this term, but he still created an average of 1.6 chances per Champions League appearance, according to figures from WhoScored.com.

The same source shows that Oscar’s mark in that category is higher than all but three members of the current Juventus squad in the same competition, with his compatriot Sandro (2.2) leading the way, followed by Pogba (1.9) and Juan Cuadrado (1.8).

Oscar 2015/16
Oscar 2015/16squawka.com

Able to play both on the wing and as an advanced central playmaker, Oscar’s blend of pace, skill and inventiveness would make him—when at his best—an ideal fit in Allegri’s system, where his ability to take on defenders would also be a major addition to the club’s array of attacking weapons.

With Antonio Conte’s impending arrival at Stamford Bridge potentially complicating any deal with Chelsea, Juventus may yet turn to other options, but there is little doubt that an on-song Oscar has all the qualities needed to help shape the Old Lady's midfield next term.