The 2019/2020 season mercato review

The start to the mercato was great. The signing of Aaron Ramsey was announced even before the last season had ended. During Allegri’s reign Juventus often had problems with linking the midfield to the attack and Ramsey is a player that can fill that void. He is a very versatile midfielder who can play as a RM, CM and CAM.

Soon after Adrien Rabiot and Gianluigi Buffon were added to the squad. Adrien Rabiot (CM, CDM) is one of the players who has impressed me the most during pre-season. He is very composed and confident on the ball. He can also strike the ball, as he demonstrated against Atlético by nearly scoring an absolute worldie. Unfortunately the post was in the way.

And do we even have to talk about Buffon? He is (still) fantastic. Saving three penalties in the shootout against Inter. We truly have the world’s best second choice goalkeeper.

The Spinazzola-Pellegrini (LB) swap was also a great deal by the management. We received a promising young Italian defender and generated a hefty plusvalenza (capital gain) in the process. That being said, I must admit I was a bit sad to see Spina go, he played a couple of fantastic games last season and at times was the best player in the squad. Still, sometimes sacrifices need to be made.

Then the management added Demiral (CB) and Romero (CB) to the squad. It didn’t come as a surprise that Romero would be loaned out – he is not ready yet – but Merih Demiral can be a valuable asset to the team. The Demiral deal was also incredible business as Juventus had a pre-agreement with Sassuolo for €18M. Since then, teams like AC Milan have offered huge amounts (≈€40M) for the player. During pre-season the Turkish defender has looked very good. He is the embodiment of a ”no-nonsense defender”. I really like that.

The biggest signing of this summer was no doubt Matthijs de Ligt (CB). €75M payable over the next five years with a buyout clause of €150M that will come to effect in 2022. Incredible business. Some people were bothered by the buyout clause, but €150M for a defender is not a small amount. He would become the world’s most expensive defender by far and Juventus would gain a huge profit. His start to the season has been a little slow, but I’m confident he will get used to the Italian game soon enough.

Sadly, after the de Ligt deal everything started to spiral out of control. The management sold one of our most promising homegrown players ever, Moise Kean (ST), to Everton. The ≈€40M transfer fee is a good amount for a player who only has a year left in his contract but the management should have added a buy-back clause. The kid has the potential to become a future superstar.

Then we have the infamous Cancelo-Danilo (RB) swap. Much like with the Spinazzola-Pellegrini swap, we generated a hefty plusvalenza and got a replacement in the process. Still, many fans didn’t like the deal, but I urge everyone to think why the swap was made. Yes, Cancelo is one the most promising attacking full backs in the world of football, but he has his shortcomings as well. His poor defensively display was a big reason why Ajax managed to tie the Champions League QF in Amsterdam. Further, his attitude has been questioned several times. At one point he liked negative Instagram comments such as ”Allegri Out” and at the start of the pre-season videos of him ”not giving a shit” in training spread like wildfire. Manchester City is his fourth team in four years, that can’t be a coincidence. Overall, the Cancelo-Danilo swap isn’t a bad deal, even though Danilo’s form and abilities are a bit of a question mark.

One of many negative comments Cancelo liked on Instagram

Right now Juventus has 27 players. 5 players need to be left out for Champions League and at the moment it seems they are going to be Perin, Pjaca, Matuidi, Mandzukic and the injured Chiellini. Let’s analyze this a bit. The management had the opportunity to sell Mandzukic not once but twice (ManU and PSG). Both times the player refused the transfer because everything was so rushed. Now Sarri is forced to leave out a player who is at his best in big games. Mandzukic was one of the main reasons why Juventus managed to comeback against Real Madrid in the 17/18 Champions League. The man has two goals in Champions League Finals and took Croatia to the World Cup Final (and scored there). They don’t call him ”Big Game Mario” for nothing. Matuidi on the other hand is a World Cup winner and a great player. Matuidi gets paid €142,442 a week and Mandzukic gets paid €195,865 a week. They should be playing Champions League football.

Also, the management had the opportunity to sell Rugani to Roma (and Wolves), but got greedy and asked Roma for youth players on top of a sizable transfer fee. Roma obviously said no and bought Chris Smalling. Yes, Chris Smalling. However, after Chiellini’s injury, the failed negotiations could be a blessing in disguise. Rugani has played under Sarri in Empoli and the coach seems to trust the player. Plus now Juventus doesn’t have to leave out Rugani from the Champions League squad.

Overall Paratici’s trip to England was catastrophic. The objective was to sell Matuidi, Mandzukic, Perin, Khedira and Rugani, but instead Paratici sold our most promising youngster and one of the most promising right backs in the world and a tried to sell Dybala for €70M – that’s just ridiculous. He is worth way more than that.

The management tried to force Dybala out for months. Why? No one really knows. Maybe the management is afraid of Dybala having another average season and his price dropping. According to @MomblanOfficial, Sarri reportedly told his staff at Continassa: ”If I had €70m, I would sign Dybala for myself.” Seems like the coach and the management are not on the same page. But all in all, I hope that these rumours won’t affect La Joya’s play – during pre-season he was absolutely brilliant. He will get his chance.

Lastly, is anyone even surprised that Higuaín and Khedira are still playing for Juventus? Higuaín has been a massive headache for the management. They have been trying to sell him for a long time but no one wants to buy the ageing striker with a huge salary. Therefore, the team is forced to keep him (and his enormous salary in the books). Khedira on the other hand just keeps on convincing every coach he plays for. Good for him. I hope both of them can perform. The start has been promising for both of them.

So is Juventus stronger than last year? That’s a difficult question. On paper I’d say yes, but much depends on how quickly Sarri can implement his philosophy and how the players will adapt to it. The squad depth is insane, but financially players such as Mandzukic and Matuidi are a big burden. Overall, the additions the management brought are improvements, but the unnecessary rumours could weaken team morale.

The mercato started off very nicely but towards the end everything felt a little rushed and panicky.

Mercato rating: 7

Thoughts? (Follow me @JuveThoughts)

Plusvalenza isn’t important, it’s the only thing that matters

The chairman of the decorated Italian football club Juventus, Andrea Agnelli, said this in a 90-minute long interview conducted by Sky Sports in 2016: ”Running Juventus in the last decade is vastly different from what it was in the early ’90s. We’re now seen as an important company also by the banking and insurance sectors, we have a turnover of 350 million euros and approximately 700 employees. We’re no longer just a game [referring to football] but a big business in one of few industries that is expanding at present”. This attitude has become evident when looking at the decisions made by the club during the past few years.

It all started in 2017 when Juventus changed their logo. Fans were outraged and demanded the old logo back. The club didn’t listen. This season the club ditched 116 years of tradition by getting rid of stripes from their home kit and named their stadium after a sponsor. Once again, fans were outraged, but the club didn’t listen.

It is obvious that these changes weren’t made for the fans, but rather represent the new direction of football and sports. The man behind the controversial logo redesign, Manfredi Ricca, said this in an interview: ‘’It’s about [referring to the logo] a growth plan and making sure they manage to get a better commercial performance, a better influence in a sector that is changing rapidly. Juventus wants to drive the change, rather than stay behind. It’s expressing a philosophy of Juventus in a way that appeals beyond the borders of football. The idea is to widen the audience and make sure the brand is loved not just by football fans.’’ Even though the fans acknowledge that these changes were made to stay competitive and with business purposes in mind, it does not mean that they will be immediately accepted. Sports teams are still trying to figure out how to build an engaging presence with their fan community and still have control over their brand.

Juventus FC has, for example, partnered with a fan engagement app called ‘Socios’ that allows fans to influence the club by voting on certain topics. The fans could, for example, decide the goal celebration of a certain player by voting before the match. The app is set to launch before the 2019/2020 season. However, deciding on a player celebration is a small consolation when all your favorite players – and even club legends – get sold or let go.

The case of Claudio Marchisio has been a very controversial topic for some time now. Marchisio was a homegrown player, and the only youth player who has managed to play regular first team football in my lifetime, was let go by the club in 2018. 25 years at the club, no farewells, nothing. The whole thing just seemed ruthless.

Why wouldn’t you honor a true club legend?
Are players truly seen just as instruments?

The club’s infamous motto ”Vincere non è importante, è l’unica cosa che conta” (in English: ”Winning isn’t important, it is the only thing that matters”) seems to have taken the passion out of the game. And once again the fans were (and still are) outraged.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. The club has done rather strange decisions regarding its players for a long time. The club veteran Leonardo Bonucci was sold to AC Milan and acquired back just a year after. The club legend Gianluigi Buffon was let go after a emotional farewell only to be re-signed a year after. This season the club sold its only promising homegrown player Moise Kean to Everton for a quick plusvalenza (in English: capital gain) without a buy-back clause.

Now the media is reporting a potential swap deal between Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku. But just a year ago Juventus’ vice president, Pavel Nedved, said this: “Dybala is a very important player, one who is still under contract at Juventus. We’re very happy with what he’s doing and he can still improve a lot, so the future belongs to him”. Dybala was expected to be the heir to Alessandro Del Piero’s throne and was given the number 10 shirt in 2017. Now it seems like the club is ready to give up on him.

Why you may ask? Plusvalenza.

Over a span of 5 years, Juventus has been in the Champions League Final twice. From the 2014/2015 Champions League Final squad, the only player to stay is Giorgio Chiellini. The turnover has been huge. Every year the team seems to start from scratch and this year is no exception: new coach, new players and a new system. Where is the consistency?

On top of all this, the club has annually increased ticket prices and cut down privileges from Ultras. As a result Ultras have boycotted many matches and this has resulted to many empty seats and a theater-like atmosphere.

The Juventus management may well have a ticking time bomb on their hands and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Thoughts? (Follow me on Twitter @JuveThoughts)

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