Remembering Amauri as One of Juventus' Worst Signings Makes NASL Switch

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistAugust 16, 2016

Juventus forward Amauri reacts during a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Cagliari in Turin, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Alberto Ramella)
Alberto Ramella/Associated Press

The long and storied history of Juventus is littered with great strikers, from John Charles and Omar Sivori in the 1960s through to 1996 UEFA Champions League winners Luca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli.

In more recent times, the likes of Carlos Tevez and Paulo Dybala have continued that rich legacy, while the Calciopoli scandal cemented the place of two iconic goalscorers in the hearts of the Bianconeri fans.

The fallout of the events of summer 2006 resonated deeply with Juve supporters, with a number of players—like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lilian Thuram—becoming hate figures in Turin after opting to leave the Old Lady.

Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet stayed, netting goals galore in Serie B and helping the club return to the top flight just 12 months later despite a points penalty. Perhaps even more surprising was their performance in 2007/08, scoring 44 goals between them and helping Juve secure a third-place finish.

That saw them earn a Champions League berth, prompting sporting director Alessio Secco to seek attacking reinforcements. With Del Piero and Trezeguet heading toward the twilight of their careers and extra games to share around, the official felt that—in order to contend for silverware—his team needed a new star striker.

Instead he paid €22.8 million for Amauri.

Yes, with Juventus still feeling the financial implications of a year outside the top flight and another without European football, Secco gambled massively on a player who at that time had scored in double figures just twice in his career.

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 17:  Cristian Chivu of Roma is tackled by Carvalho Amaurif of Palermo during the Seria A Match between Roma and Palermo at the Stadio Olimpico on December 17, 2006 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Newpress/Getty Images)
New Press/Getty Images

That the Brazilian-born forward had just enjoyed his best-ever season by scoring 15 times for Palermo highlights just how poor the director's choice was. Already 28 years old when he joined the Bianconeri, Amauri had enjoyed a thoroughly nomadic journey before landing with the Sicilian club.

It began when his local side, Santa Catarina Clube, travelled to Italy for the prestigious Viareggio Tournament, where some eye-catching displays prompted scouts from Swiss club Bellinzona to snap him up.

He bounced around a number of sides over the next four seasons, netting a grand total of six goals. Amauri then joined Chievo in 2003, enjoying something of a breakout campaign in 2005-06 to net 14 times in all competitions which saw Palermo hand the Veronese side €7 million.

His debut campaign was limited by injury, but he would then bag that aforementioned 15-goal haul in 2007-08, prompting Juventus and Secco to make their expensive move, as Lorenzo Vicini of fan site Ultra Palermo explained to Bleacher Report:

Amauri's sale to Juventus allowed Palermo to earn a profit of €14 million as well as bringing in another eventual Italian international in Antonio Nocerino and one that didn't pan out in Davide Lanzafame. 

Selling Amauri to Juventus was a necessary move and one that was proven to be the right one in hindsight. His time at Palermo was the peak of his career and one that saw him begin to be considered as an option for the Italian national team.

But Juve's then-general manager Jean-Claude Blanc had no doubts he was the right man. "Amauri was our top priority," he told reporters at the time (h/t Paolo Bandini of the Guardian). "He will help this great team to write another important page in its history."

It was a belief that initially looked to be well-placed. Handed the No. 8 shirt, he scored on his home debut against Udinese which ignited a superb run of form as Amauri showcased just what he was capable of.

Strong, powerful and possessing a neat first touch, he blitzed defences at home and abroad. As shown in the video above, he netted twice in a stunning 4-2 victory against AC Milan, reaching the winter break with 11 league goals to his name.

He also registered a goal and an assist in a Champions League group-stage win over Real Madrid, a moment that sparked genuine hope that the Bianconeri—and Amauri—were ready to become a major force in Europe.

Then he simply stopped scoring. In a Juve side boasting Del Piero, Mauro Camoranesi and Pavel Nedved, there were still chances aplenty, but suddenly the striker could no longer convert them.

Save for a February goal against Sampdoria, his form deserted him, and he cut a frustrating figure for even his own supporters as the team spluttered without a consistent scorer up front.

He would change shirt numbers, taking the No. 11 vacated by Nedved's retirement and dropping the No. 8 which would be filled by Claudio Marchisio. The more cynical among Juve fans might argue that was his most significant contribution to the club, but he spoke as if he still belonged in the side.

"I don't think I am in crisis because of my lack of goals," Amauri told Tuttosport (h/t Goal). "I don't worry about the criticism. I know I am working hard. All that is missing is a goal, but I am confident."

Coaches Ciro Ferrara and Luigi Delneri would give him less and less playing time, clearly tired of seeing Amauri throw his arms up in frustration or sat on the pitch complaining as if his problems were everyone else's fault.

TURIN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 30:  Amauri of Torino FC looks dejected at the end of the Serie A match between Juventus FC and Torino FC at Juventus Arena on November 30, 2014 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Fans had seen enough. “We spent €23 million on him and I think that was too much for a player like him,” Lele—a regular at Juventus Stadium— told me, then going on to express a view that is shared by many in Turin.

"He was strong and that's the only good thing I can say about him," Lele said. "When he arrived from Palermo I thought we had bought a 'beast,' but soon I realised Amauri was inconsistent, listless and not really a decisive player. You always expect a lot from Brazilian stars but he was a huge disappointment for me."

He left on loan to Parma but failed to secure a permanent deal, prompting new Juve boss Antonio Conte to strip him of his squad number and effectively force him out of the club. Clearly a despised figure with Bianconeri supporters, he would subsequently join rivals Fiorentina and Torino to intensify those feelings.

Six distinctly average seasons followed, culminating with just three goals in 30 appearances for the latter of those clubs. However, he did score for the Viola in a win over AC Milan during the 2011/12 campaign, a goal which helped Juventus secure their first title in six years.

At Torino, coach Giampiero Ventura would follow Conte's lead in expelling him and in February 2016, they rescinded his contract.

This summer Amauri joined Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the second tier of United States soccer, his new side clearly happy at bringing in a player who has represented some of Europe's most well-known teams.

“He has the top resume in NASL today. He has featured for Juventus, Parma, Torino, Napoli and other big clubs," their managing director Luis Cuccatti told the club's official website. "This is one more major investment of ours into the Strikers and NASL."

But no matter what he does there—even after scoring on his debut against Miami FC—he is unlikely to ever be as popular as he was with a certain group of supporters. 

"Amauri was beloved by the Palermo fans, all of whom were sad to see him go," Vicini said. "His goals and performances in Rosanero made him a legend in Sicily, despite only being with the club for two seasons."

However, he will be most remembered for his ill-fated spell at Juventus. So while she has many legendary names to look back upon fondly, Amauri truly was one of the worst signings the Old Lady ever made.

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