Should We Expect an Andrea Pirlo Squad Revamp at Juventus This Summer?

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportAugust 11, 2020

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HEINEKEN USA-  Heineken Ambassador Andrea Pirlo lifts the UEFA Champions League Trophy (again) during the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour presented by Heineken at Yankee Stadium, Saturday, April 27, 2019 in New York. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Heineken USA)
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

Andrea Pirlo's surprise appointment at Juventus suddenly brings a host of new questions as we consider the next stage of the side's development.

The Maurizio Sarri experiment has been written off after just one season—that UEFA Champions League last-16 defeat to Lyon proving to be the final nail in his Juve coffin.

Now there is new excitement, a fresh outlook.

As Juve fan Arjun Pradeep told us: "I am extremely excited. Pirlo was the one who rejuvenated Juventus [as a player] and launched this incredibly successful era.

"Now I want to see a well orchestrated unit that demonstrates a great balance of technique and physicality. I want to see a dominating Juventus side that will also do whatever is necessary to win.

"I believe he has the characteristics to achieve this because as a player he was a genius, who played under some of the greatest coaches to ever grace football."

Pirlo is just days into the job, but there are immediate questions.

Will the transfer targets change? Will Ronaldo stay? Could he bring back Paul Pogba?

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Pirlo spoke with the club on Sunday for the first time about their approach to this transfer window, and now we wait to see what the side will look like for the new Serie A season.

There have been plenty of rumours in the past few days, from Sandro Tonali to Isco. So we looked into the situation and called upon Bleacher Report sources in Italy to get an idea of what might happen.

                     

Defence

There is not going to be too much time to consider a complete overhaul of the team before next season, and that might mean a rethink of how they build next season's defence.

The futures of Alex Sandro, Mattia De Sciglio, Danilo and Daniele Rugani have all looked in the balance, but it is thought the club will be careful about which of these they now sell and replace.

Defence was an area of priority last year. Matthijs De Ligt was signed from Ajax as part of the future vision, but he now has a shoulder injury that may make Juve think about the centre of defence a little more than they would want to.

But sources say that while Juve may make some small alterations, they are more likely to focus their big transfer business in areas further up the field.

                   

Massimo Pinca./Associated Press

Midfield

Pirlo was left in tears when Juventus were beaten by Barcelona in the 2015 Champions League final, and it was Paul Pogba who was first to give him a comforting hug.

That was Pirlo's final match for Juve, but senior figures around Turin were always sure he would return. At times, people have also been pretty sure Pogba would return too, but a reunion seems very unlikely.

We asked a couple of well-placed sources about Pogba and the Juve rumours that never seem to go away. For now, we are told—mainly because of the finances involved—that it is "almost impossible."

A deal for Isco, floated by Italian outlet Gazzetta Dello Sport, is unlikely at this stage too.

It is thought Pirlo is a great admirer of his style of play, but Isco's potential fee—likely to be upwards of 50 million—as well as his high wages will be a factor. Another issue would be convincing him to actually leave Real Madrid after seven years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Maybe a more subtle approach can be expected for the reinvention of the Juve midfield. Arthur has already agreed his move from Barcelona as part of the Miralem Pjanic swap deal, and Dejan Kulusevski is joining from Parma.

The most exciting name on lips of people around the club right now is Brescia's young prince Sandro Tonali, a player linked with so many top clubs in recent months.

This rumour has been doing the rounds for months, but with Pirlo at the wheel instead of Sarri, the player would surely become more tempted. Inter Milan are also making an attempt to sign the player, who has an asking price of around €40 million. Intermediaries have been on the case for weeks trying to find out what other fees would be necessary to sign the 20-year-old Italy international.

"The change in philosophy will not be as complete as it was to be with Sarri," explains Mirko Di Natale of TuttoJuve.com. "There will be great curiosity about how Pirlo will help the midfield, which was the weakest department this year. Players will also be more likely to get advice from someone like Pirlo, a maestro of football."

The chances of Jorginho joining from Chelsea have all but disappeared along with Sarri, but sources still expect the club to follow through with sales in the middle of the park. B/R has been told Sami Khedira is searching for a suitable new club, while Blaise Matuidi is set to join Inter Miami.

Ramsey has previously been told he can search for a new team too, but no one has shown firm interest. England is seen as his only real possibility, but wages of over 7 million per year are a problem for most sides in Europe, so Pirlo may have to find a way to work with the Welshman for now.

                   

Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Forwards

Cristiano Ronaldo will be frustrated at the Champions League failure this season, but we can expect him to be around to help Pirlo next season. A report from Footmercato in France suggests sporting director Leonardo wants to take him to PSG next season and is making contact with agent Jorge Mendes over the possibility.

Yet sources in Italy feel Ronaldo will wait to see how the Pirlo project begins to unravel, and which names arrive to support him, before he has any thought about leaving.

He'll have Paulo Dybala up front with him next season, though Gonzalo Higuain won't be there.

Sources are adamant Higuain has played his last game for Juve. There is also an impression among some journalists that he might be tempted to terminate his contract one year early and pursue a new venture in America, where there is believed to be MLS interest.

The possibility of a return to Argentina, his homeland, is there too, and River Plate sporting director Enzo Francescoli would love to make the signing happen

Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi are also on the market this summer—completing the list of 10 players available or likely to leave. There is realism within the club that not all will find new homes before the transfer window closes.

In terms of Higuain's replacement, though, we might have an area for Pirlo to announce his own surprise. Arkadiusz Milik had been the new man Sarri wanted to lead the attack next season, but that now hangs in the balance.

Sources are suggesting that the deal could still be on because he was available on a good deal with his Napoli contract beginning to run down, but Pirlo's own vision is likely to shape the type of striker they sign.

Raul Jimenez of Wolves has also been mooted, but that deal looks expensive—upwards of 65 million—and might be a risk given the player turns 30 next year. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also been linked but seems set to stay at Arsenal

The club are assuring their new coach that they will, gradually, help shape this side exactly as he needs. But cutting back the squad is vital before the big changes can happen.

Juventus are about to begin their latest bid for Champions League glory. Pirlo will get more time than Sarri to focus on his objectives, and because of that there will be no overnight overhaul. This project will take a little time but could ultimately transform Juve's style and success in typical Pirlo fashion.