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Juventus Mercato Mutterings

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I seem to have developed a sporadic case of hysteria. With any serious rumours of tactics and transfers sending me quickly towards wild joy or plummeting deep into a well of woe. Its taking some effort to strike the middle ground! Which I think it due to the fairytale I have created of Il Maestro and this sensation of a magical new adventure contrasted by the still potent cynicism born of the last 2-3 years of enduring our steady decline.

The transfer window is not yet fully open, and its likely we will have to wait to sell players or reach agreement on mutual termination, before any major incoming moves will be made public or pushed over the line. Which is a fine and logical strategy, for if clubs know we are even more desperate to sell, potential savings and income will fall. I am hopeful this is the case rather than realising we are in a position where financially speaking, we cannot purchase before cutting the wage bill and bringing in funds from transfer fees. More than hopeful, I am close to certain.

There is even the chance that Exxor may inject some gold to speculate in order to accumulate, as happened a decade ago, which worked out very well indeed for the club, launching a winning cycle which has lasted for many moons. This would of course need to be kept within FFP parameters.

With the circus of media frenzy already blinding, dizzying and appalling, it seems the right time to focus with more zeal on what is required, along with analysing the rumours of too many voices to be nowt but paper talk.

We do not know what system Pirlo will play. Though he did offer some insight, in regards to the potential to operate with a back 3 or 4. Alongside – more importantly – an approach for his players running hard to recover the ball whenever it is lost, for creating enthusiasm, hunger, fight to win as the core mindset. From these words, taken with those of Andrea Agnelli, it is clear that fresh, young players with determination and strong mentality are to be the focus of the vision shared by our new boss and the President.

In regards to our current squad, the most important reference was of Dybala, who Pirlo confirmed is not on the market and will be part of the project as an important player. Very welcome news indeed, and yet it is here that I start my knitted brow routine…


JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – JANUARY 09: Luis Suarez of Barcelona reacts to a referee’s decision during the Supercopa de Espana Semi-Final match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at King Abdullah Sports City on January 09, 2020 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

We appear to be very focused upon finding a CF.  Milik? Dzeko? Lacazette? Even that fiend Suarez? Now seemingly looking to bring in the Bosnian, a 34 year old though still very potent in the 18 yard box, to replace a 32 year old who I imagine could still be very potent in the same vein, if that was where he was deployed consistently. Many questions arise…

Will the transfer fee and wages for Dezko, alongside paying Higuain to leave, be the best option? We know Higuain is not part of the project, but why replace him with an older player who excels as the old style number 9 in the box, who will then come to Juve and be tasked with creating space for Ronaldo?

And where does this leave Dybala? This is a greater concern. For if we are so determined to bring in a CF, it must be to play a CF, which moves Dybala to a RWF position or trequartista – both further away from goal, where his major talents are instantly reduced. What sense does it make to confirm that Dybala is an important player for the club, then look to sign 1 even 2 players to play at CF which I find hard to avoid concluding displaces La Joya, not out of the side but away from where he is at his most dangerous?

If he is moved to the right, to cut in on his left where does this leave Kulu? Whose finest form this season came as a RWF in a front 3.

It always makes the most sense to deploy players where they have recently shown their best form. The lad is too talented, too determined, too powerful, too much of everything we need to be left out. Though how he fits in with Dybala, Ronaldo and a CF is a little beyond me presently, without moving him to a trequartista role or putting Dybala there with the youngster on the right. Or alternating with Dybala in a RWF position.

I suppose the idea may be to play off the target man, who will create space in the box for others to charge into and work their magic? Little chance to find Ronaldo, Dybala and Kulu involved with a CF, for whilst this would be exciting to watch, a 3-3-3-1 formation leaves us rather vulnerable on the flanks!

Way too offensive, with the greater likelihood, if our hunt for a CF is as serious as most believe, that Dybala will be moved back to a RWF position. When he should ideally be a second striker, playing off a prima punta. Which could well be the strategy of Pirlo. To have a lot of movement in the final third, greater support with runners from deep, and more space for Dybala and Ronaldo to work as the defence is marking the burly CF.

This conundrum may be cured by rotation rather than attempting to fit in four offensive players in the final third. With Kulu, the most logically benched, also the most likely to be fine with this, as he is the youngest and appears to have a superb mentality. There is also the idea of playing with Kulu or Dybala behind Dzeko and Ronaldo…

I understand the need for more presence in the box. We often looked horribly outnumbered last season, with Dybala and Ronaldo up against 3,4 or even 5. We rarely had any width that high up the field, and have long struggled to get midfielders into the box – partly down to systems, more due to recruitment. The net result reduced our threats to basically Ronaldo and Dybala. We need more offensive threats, more attacking variety…and have one with Kulu, and are now seeking another in a CF. Add to this the eagerness of McKennie, the improved form of Rabiot, potentially Aouar and we look to have solved one of many issues.

It is possible that these rumours of our mission to secure Dzeko or the scoundrel Suarez are of no substance, or that Pirlo, rather than set in his mind on including a number 9, would simply like to replace the departing Higuain with another CF to ensure we have options for a variety of systems. With my dream still alive of placing the most talented front-men as close as possible to their best positions>

Ronaldo – Dybala – Kulu

Addressing another longstanding issue –  namely the lack of width – can be in the form of adding more attacking fullbacks, an area where we range from bang average to jaded to one dimensional. All the top sides have fullbacks well beyond the limits of our current options. Though I would not fully yet conclude that Sandro is winding down…He could be revived.

I remain hopeful that Pellegrini will be retained for he meets the adventurous, attacking, youthful profile and we already own him. Yet what of the other flank?

The Dest deal may well be one of those waiting in the shadows? I very much hope so, as Danilo is fine defensively but adds little beyond the half way line, whereas Juan is average in the rearguard and still quite haphazard with his forages nearer goal. This is an essential area of the side to improve.

I came across the McKennie story deep into the darkness and more asleep than awake. My quick peeking at solely stats was disheartening…Yet when waking the next morning, delving into more expansive research, watching videos and finding US focused pundits offering further outline, my pendulum swung fully in the opposite direction. For the kid seems big, quick, a natural hustler, high octane with an eye for getting on the end of things in the box. All of which we have long lacked in the all important central midfield area.

He seems to fit the profile of much of what we need. And whilst I have swung back to middle ground, I remain excited by his transfer. Yet where is his natural role? From what I have seen it seems as a box to box marauder who is fine muscling and hustling in deeper areas, yet constantly keen to bomb forward.

I have since seem him suggested as a DM, to sit in front of the defence, though am leaning more towards what I have seen and more importantly what Weston has to say on the matter himself

When asked what is your best position, earlier this year>

‘8…I am a box to box type player. You get the best out of me if you have me play both sides of the ball. If you play me deep, I get the urge to go forward. If you play me high up I get the urge to come back to help defend.’

Weston also echoed the same previously in 2019.

It makes sense to assume we will play him where he performs at his best. Hence why some are referencing Vidal as an example. I believe Rabiot is similar, too eager to get forward to be relied upon as a deep sitting CM. Ever driven to get involved at both ends, all action.

Some other analysts have expanded on this to suggest he has a lot of maturing to do. The raw hustle and great eye for an opening is already there, but he is young and will need guidance on positioning, e.g. when to go, when to sit. Regardless, he clearly brings us new options, and I can see him vying for a role either side of a deeper lying CM, charging box to box with another of similar ilk the other side whether that is Rabiot or Bentancur. With perhaps one more if Ramsey can be sold.

Looking to that DM/CM role, Pirlo indicated and others in the community have explained – that we are probably not looking to play with a pure regista, instead aiming for a far more dynamic midfield of willing runners who can control the ball and retrieve the ball very quickly when lost, and drive forward to add numbers in the final third.

Arthur as the controller in the middle, whose ability on the ball, especially in tight spaces, aligned with intelligent passing could prove key. With Bentancur also able to step into that role.

From haphazard, unbalanced, little support in the final third, low energy, scant capacity to retain possession under pressure let alone win the ball back quickly to…something far more alive and determined and powerful. I hesitate to even write it, but our long term midfield problems finally may have solutions.

Aouar remains a name on everyone’s mind. The highly talented frenchman even has his mother close to confirming that he will join Juve. He would be pricy, but perhaps the one big name signing delivered by Paratici, a new jewel in the crown elect. A player who would complete a major revolution, adding top drawer guile with and without the ball.

The above would represent a superb mercato. Addressing all major issues tactically, with the average age dropped significantly, many young, talented, hungry players both on the field and on the bench. Competition for places. With the option of changing to a double pivot in midfield, or a back three, with many options for the offensive shape.

I have included Kean, as the rumours surrounding his return gain momentum and they also make sense both for our needs, and as a perfect escape plan for the young striker whose adventure in Merseyside has been dreadful. Some of this can be put down to his mentality, yet he moved countries at a very young age, into a side which has generally struggled, and has been played in many positions all with stop-start openings to get on the field. It is curious and encouraging to learn that despite his low output of goals and assists, his expected goal contribution per 90 minutes played is by far the highest of the Everton squad – 3 goals/assists every 4 games (of 90 minutes played). Evidently, he has not become a worse player, he has simply not been given enough playing time. And whilst he would unlikely get an instant first team berth at Juve, his playing time and the environment are assuredly to improve.

Dzeko is 34. And it bothers me a little to ponder we may pay Higuain 10m (gross) to say goodbye, then pay Dzeko at least 5-7m per season, as well as 10m on his transfer, then have to replace him in 2 years, but this is why Kean makes sense. For if all were to go perfectly, Moise would progress and be in line to become our starting CF, his apprenticeship under the experienced front line players blossoming into his potential realised. On this score, I understand the strategy more comfortably.

Very exciting times…yet still I have that cynical fear that our spending power may fall well short of Aouar and Dest, but to temper this I ponder that we would not be spending a potential 30m on McKennie, who is unlikely to instantly be a starter, if we had not arranged bigger signings elsewhere first. Hope really does spring eternal, even for a cynical bastard like myself!

In short, I am once again veering towards bursting with joy, for I believe we are seriously building a new team, more than just in my mind and these lines…We cannot ask for anything more.

Forza Juve.

(follow me on twitter here)

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