How Juventus can line up after Paul Pogba's departure
After a long drawn out transfer saga that could well have yet another chapter in it, it looks like Paul Pogba is on the verge of a move to the club he spent 3 years at. Manchester United seem poised to shatter the world transfer record to land the much coveted 23-year-old French midfield star.
Barcelona were initially determined to land Pogba, but were put off by his exorbitant price tag, as were Real Madrid, who according to Sky Italia have still come in with an offer to Mino Raiola, Pogba’s agent. Pogba seems to have given his word to Mourinho and United though, and should complete a move soon if everything goes according to plan.
Meanwhile, a lot has been written about Juve’s already stellar transfer market that has seen them pull off some excellent moves, but how will they deal with the departure of their French midfield powerhouse?
Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba formed a midfield quartet that was considered amongst the best in world football, but with three of those now probably gone and Marchisio out for a while with injury, the Italian giants will start the new season without any of them.
But Juventus are not a club to be tied down by the past. They lost Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez last year but replaced them swiftly and though they struggled initially, their side emerged as one of the best in Europe, shattering domestic records and showing they were in a force in Europe as well.
Juve’s moves in the transfer market
A lot of credit for their brilliant moves in the market must be given to Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici, the men in charge of their transfers. They pulled off the signings of Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Dani Alves, Sami Khedira all for essentially nothing.
Andrea Barzagli and Arturo Vidal were signed for peanuts in comparison to what they were worth and even the 32 million euro fee paid to Roma for Miralem Pjanic will seem a bargain once they cash in their round about 120 million euro cheque for Pogba.
Pjanic had 10 goals and 12 assists in Serie A last year, just bettering Pogba’s 8 goals and equal number of assists. Of course, they are very different players but the Bosnian can certainly shoulder Pogba’s attacking impetus, and at 26 years old, he has several years left in him too.
Marko Pjaca, the Croatian talent pursued by Liverpool. Dortmund, Inter, Napoli and Milan will soon be signing for Juve in what is another show of their increasing global appeal. The 21-year-old ran rings around the Spanish defense and can play several roles on the attacking front.
Considering the time Alvaro Morata spent on the bench last year, Juve shouldn’t miss him terribly. They will sign another center forward at some point in this window in any case.
Mario Lemina, the 22-year-old Gabon international is a versatile midfielder that Juve purchased the rights of, from Marseille and will be a reliable option whenever called upon. Dani Alves, another player who had clubs chasing after him also chose Juve, and should continue to bombard the right flank despite his increasing age.
Whether Juventus really ever intended or even intend to pay Higuain’s clause of 94 million euros is hard to say at this point, but it’s a show of their economic and sporting might that they could even seriously consider the same, without even having to sell Pogba or Bonucci.
The excellent business that their club have been doing by snapping up the best young talent from across the globe is now showing in their accounts.
One also has to consider though that alternative for Pogba will be hard to find, and the players in the spotlight are all overpriced because of the current market. What that should mean is that Juve shouldn’t seek to find a like for like player, but seek to change their playing style and perhaps get an equally talented player with different attributes.
With Pjanic’s signing, Juve have half the job done, but they still seem to be considering scouting of Axel Witsel, Nemanja Matic, Marcelo Brozovic and Moussa Sissoko. These players should be easier to obtain and while neither of them are as talented as Pogba, they could fill in multiple midfield roles well.
With the arrival of Mehdi Benatia, Juve are already well stocked in defense. The highly acclaimed BBC now has a backup for Barzagli and Daniele Rugani is one of the most promising young defenders around.
So Juve’s priorities will be signing another eclectic midfielder and a quality forward. If they’re not convinced that Higuain is worth the rather significant outlay that Napoli are demanding, they could consider Javier Hernandez, who has had a splendid season in Germany and/or Gabriel Barbosa or Gabriel Jesus, the latest Brazilian stars they are already seriously considering.
Another approach for Alexis Sanchez, the Arsenal star could also be on the cards. Juve have been keen on the Chilean since his Udinese years, and this just might be the time to make that deal happen. The signing of either one of Sanchez and Higuain would give the Bianconeri a world class potency up front.
So this is what Juve’s team for the 2016-17 campaign could look like, a team that could well be one of the main challengers for a Champions League trophy they are yearning for:
With players of the quality of Marko Pjaca, Daniele Rugani, Stefano Sturaro, Kwadwo Asamoah, Mario Mandzukic, Stephan Lichsteiner and perhaps Gabriel Jesus/Gabriel Barbosa and Axel Witsel in their squad as well, Juve would have the option of switching to a 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 with ease, and would truly have the squad to rival the biggest teams in the world.