How Barcelona Duo Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano Would Fit JuventusMay 26, 2016
Even as a champagne-soaked Juventus left the field at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico last Saturday with their domestic superiority firmly underlined, thoughts had already turned to improving this all-conquering side ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
“We’ve now won three trophies this season, an achievement which leads me to thank the players, the club and the fans, who’ve been extraordinary again tonight,” coach Massimiliano Allegri told a press conference moments after seeing his side add the Coppa Italia to the league title and Supercoppa Italiana they had already won.
“We now look forward to the next campaign which will present new challenges, namely the fight for a sixth straight Scudetto, retaining the Coppa Italia and performing well in the UEFA Champions League,” he added, and it is the latter that seems to now be the focus of Bianconeri attention.
Despite beating Manchester City home and away, Juventus failed to top their group in Europe’s elite competition and were subsequently drawn against Bayern Munich in the last 16, inexplicably throwing away a second-leg advantage to be eliminated by a 6-4 aggregate scoreline.
It seems the club’s management team have wasted little time in looking to improve the options available to Allegri, with various reports linking the Turin giants with moves for Barcelona duo Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano.
Indeed, according to AS, Cadena Ser, Sky Sport Italia and a number of other outlets (h/t Football Italia), the Brazilian wing-back will sign a two-year contract with Juventus, as his current contract contains a clause that allows him to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer.
His Argentinian team-mate may well join him, with Spanish newspaper Sport (h/t Eurosport) among those insisting Mascherano will sign a three-year contract with Juventus once the transfer window opens.
It is fairly obvious where Alves would fit into the side, with many reports—including this one from the Guardian—believing that the Bianconeri will lose Juan Cuadrado when the loan deal that brought him to the club from Chelsea expires.
That would leave Juve with only Stephan Lichtsteiner as cover on the right flank, and Alves would provide a similar attacking edge to the Colombia international. He notched seven assists in all competitions this term, with his Champions League tally of three more than any current Juventus player could muster.
While the deal to sign Mascherano appears far more complex, his role in the team would be equally as demanding. The Old Lady is not short of star power in both midfield and central defence, but the former West Ham United man could provide a high-quality alternative to both Claudio Marchisio and Leonardo Bonucci.
Evidently comfortable in the middle of the park, Mascherano could fill in for the former, a position Juve have tried in vain to fit Hernanes into this term, and the squad contains no real alternative to Bonucci when Allegri fields a three-man defence.
As he has increasingly done in recent seasons, the 31-year-old played the vast majority of games at the back this term, with WhoScored.com noting that 34 of his 40 appearances in 2015/16 came as a central defender.
Calm in possession, the same source shows he connected with 90.1 percent of his 78.5 pass attempts per game in the Champions League, meaning he could build play just as Bonucci has done under both Allegri and his predecessor, Antonio Conte.
Mascherano’s presence would almost certainly ensure that the Bianconeri do not suffer from the lack of direction that blighted their Coppa Italia performance, a game both Bonucci (suspended) and Marchisio (injured) were unavailable for.
Juventus would still need to add a creative midfield player as discussed in this previous post, but there is little doubt that the Barcelona pair would add valuable European experience to a team determined to make progress in all competitions next term.