Serie A giants Juventus are aiming to shake off last season's disappointment as they welcome former manager Massimiliano Allegri to the helm. The Bianconeri were ousted from the pinnacle of Italian football and witnessed their nine-year-long dominance in the top-flight come to an end after finishing fourth last term.
Due to their harrowing experience under the tutelage of Andrea Pirlo, Juventus opted to part ways with the player-turned-manager. And in a bid to wrestle back supremacy from current champions Inter Milan, the club have reunited with Allegri, who previously enjoyed unparalleled success during his five-year stint in Turin.
Juventus set to face Barcelona in pre-season
The Old Lady are in line to face Barcelona at the Camp Nou next month as part of their pre-season preparations, following a meeting with second-division outfit Monza.
Although as many as 12 Juventus players participated in Euro 2020 and Copa America, Allegri is expected to have enough personnel to work with during his first pre-season training session leading up to the fixtures.
As the Italian tactician aims to evaluate his resources at Juventus for the upcoming campaign, we profile five players who are in desperate need of making an impression during pre-season:
#5 Luca Pellegrini
Since earning his big move to Juventus back in 2019, Pellegrini has yet to receive a breakthrough in Turin. At 22, the Italian has age on his side. However, recurring injuries have hampered his development in recent seasons.
The left-back, who can also feature in midfield, impressed during his loan stint at Cagliari before an ankle injury brought a premature end to his 2019/20 season.
There was still enough evidence of his potential for Genoa to snap him up on a season-long deal though. Unfortunately, Pellegrini was restricted to just seven starts last season after picking up multiple injuries.
18-year-old academy graduate Gianluca Frabotta is the current back-up left-back for Alex Sandro at Juventus. Although Frabotta notched up more minutes than Pellegrini last term, the latter could force his way up the pecking order should he light up pre-season.
#4 Merih Demiral
Nothing has gone according to plan for Demiral since his switch to Juventus from Sassuolo. The Turkish centre-back struggled to force his way into the playing eleven during the first half of his debut 2019/20 season before a ruptured ligament kept him on the sidelines in the second half of the campaign.
Demiral made as many as 24 appearances last season, but the defender had to deal with recurring muscle injuries. Notably, the 23-year-old clocked just 20 minutes of playing time in the final 13 Serie A fixtures last season.
Expectations were not met during Euro 2020 either as Demiral and Turkey crashed out of the group stages without a point. Contrastingly, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have reinstated their glowing reputation by lifting the continental championship this summer.
At this rate, Demiral will almost definitely have to wait for his chance under Allegri. However, he will be hopeful about forcing his way into the setup courtesy of a strong pre-season.
#3 Daniele Rugani
Rugani has endured a fall from grace at Juventus. The 26-year-old was essentially one of the first-team regulars, but the arrivals of Matthijs De Ligt and Merih Demiral, coupled with a loss of form, pushed him to the periphery.
The Italian was sent out on loan last season and Ligue 1 outfit Rennes quickly snapped him up. However, a hamstring injury restricted Rugani to just a solitary appearance before he was recalled to Italy ahead of another temporary switch to Cagliari.
The defender featured regularly in the second half of the season for Cagliari, playing a part in 16 of their last 18 Serie A fixtures. As such, Rugani has attracted interest from newly-appointed Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri, who has worked with him at Empoli and Juventus.
It is about time Rugani returns from the wilderness, whether that will be in Turin or elsewhere could depend on pre-season.
#2 Aaron Ramsey
The Welshman has not hit the lofty standards expected of him since joining Juventus on a free transfer in 2019. Most people felt Ramsey would fit in like a glove in Turin and thrive with his skill-set in Serie A.
To put things into perspective, Ramsey registered more goal contributions during his last season at Arsenal than his first two seasons combined at Juventus. Understandably, the 30-year-old has stuck out like a sore thumb.
Whether he has fully settled in Turin is an argument in itself, but there is not a lot of time left for Ramsey to revive his career in Italy. The events from last season were a massive wake-up call and Juventus have to pick themselves up again quickly. If Ramsey wants to play an integral part in the revival, then he will have to be more involved and enthusiastic in pre-season.
#1 Federico Bernardeschi
For all the talent that Bernardeschi possesses, he has also had to deal with several issues on and off the pitch. From taking a six-month break away from football due to an enlarged heart during his formative years to dealing with the unexpected death of Davide Astori, the winger has had his fair share of difficult phases.
The criticism directed at him has been unapologetic, though. Last season, Bernardeschi was the scapegoat after Juventus' poor display, as he failed to find the back of the net in 39 appearances across all competitions.
Despite all of that, Roberto Mancini picked him in the Italy squad for Euro 2020 and Bernardeschi might have just turned a corner. The 27-year-old could have easily wilted on the back of the noise surrounding his form, but he showed remarkable confidence to tuck away two successful penalties in the shoot-out against Spain and England to help Italy lift the trophy.
All he needs to do now is draw confidence from the exploits with the national team and replicate it during pre-season under Allegri. The talent has always been there, now it's about gaining confidence and earning the trust of everyone at Juventus once again.