Juventus: Recent Signings Could Propel Bianconeri to Elusive Champions League Crown

 

Juventus very nearly took down Bayern Munich in last season’s Champion’s League Round of 16 tie. While the loss was a tough pill to swallow, it only reinforced the notion that the Old Lady can stand toe-to-toe with the other continental powers in Europe.

If this summer’s transfer activity has shown anything, it is that the Bianconeri have their sights set on the Champions League title that evaded them when they lost to Barcelona in the final two seasons.

So far, Juve have seen Alvaro Morata return to Real Madrid via buy-back clause, while Juan Cuadrado headed back to West London upon the expiration of his loan deal. In addition, squad players like Rubinho, Martin Caceres and Simone Padoin all moved on. Rubinho and Caceres left when their contracts ended, while Padoin was sold to Cagliari.

Morata fell behind Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic in the forward pecking order, while the presence of Simone Zaza made the Spaniard that much more expendable. Additionally, Cuadrado seemed unlikely to stay seeing as the wingback is perfectly suited for incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system.

In their place, Juve have brought in midfield maestro Miralem Pjanic from arch-rivals Roma, and defender Dani Alves from Barcelona. In typical Beppe Marotta fashion, Alves arrived on a free transfer.

The Bianconeri don’t seem to be done on the transfer market either. Juventus’ official website announced that former Roma center back Medhi Benatia completed a medical at the team’s health center ahead of a potential move from Bayern Munich.

Additionally, there are reports from Gazzetta World that Juventus could be weakening yet another close rival and domestic competitor. The Old Lady could potentially be bringing in striker Gonzalo Higuain. The report also states that Roberto Pereyra could be heading to Naples. Either way, it would be a fantastic bit of business for Juventus in terms of strengthening their squad.

Should deals for Benatia and Higuain go through (as well as any sale of Pereyra), Juventus will essentially have replaced five bench players (Padoin, Caceres, Morata, Rubinho and Pereyra) with a group of players capable of starting for the vast majority of teams in Europe.

Pjanic, Alves, Higuain and Benatia (when he’s on form) are easily amongst the top 10 or 15 players at their respective positions in the world.

Did I mention Juventus have managed to keep hold of Paul Pogba?

Juventus’ current roster oozes with quality. The vaunted “BBC” backline comprised of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini return, as does the exceptional Gianluigi Buffon. The defense will be joined by the likes of Benatia and the continually developing Daniele Rugani.

On the wings, manager Max Allegri will start either Alves or Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right, and one of Patrice Evra or Alex Sandro on the left.

Allegri will have even more difficult selections to make in the center of the park. Some combination of Pogba, Pjanic, Sami Khedira and (when healthy) Claudio Marchisio will start in midfield. They’re backed up by Mario Lemina, Hernanes, the versatile Kwadwo Asamoah and Stefano Sturaro.

Up front, Dybala, Mandzukic and Zaza return. The signing of Higuain would put Juve’s group of forwards up there with the best attacking units in the world thanks to the stylist diversity provided by the incumbent trio.

It’s been a wildly successful summer so far for the Bianconeri, and it looks like it will continue to be successful as Juve adds more pieces to win in Europe.

Don’t be surprised to see Buffon and the rest of the Juventus squad finally lift that elusive Champions League trophy come next year.

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Juventus Transfer Rumors: Players Who Could Leave Turin in the Summer Transfer Window

With Juventus inching towards a possible treble, the questions shift from “Can Juventus make a deep run in Europe?” to “Can they sustain their European success?”

New additions will be likely to sustain the success. These new additions will come from different circumstances. Some will be from other clubs while others are players Juve either co-own, have sent out to another club on loan, or have a buy-back option on.

To make room for these players, incumbent members of the squad will have to go. Here are a look at some of those players.

Fernando Llorente

The towering Spanish striker has been linked to Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid in the past, which should help Juventus find a buyer for a player who has scored only seven goals in 31 appearances (all competitions) this season.

Despite the lack of goals, Llorente still makes sense for any interested Premier League club thanks to his aerial presence. The Premier League is an extremely physical league, and Llorente with his knack for scoring goals with his head, should fit in well.

His dearth of goals this season may signal his exit while also opening space for a player like Domenico Berardi (who is on loan at Sassuolo) or Simone Zaza (also at Sassuolo, Juve have a buy-back option in the players’ contract). The open spot could also go to an impact striker brought in from the transfer market like Robin van Persie or Paulo Dybala.

Rubinho

The veteran keeper has rarely appeared for the Italian giants and may find himself offloaded in the summer transfer window. Juve will likely send Nicola Leali out on other loan spell, but if they want the youngster to get experience with the first team in Turin, Rubinho would be the one to go.

This seems unlikely as the most game-time Leali would receive would be in the Coppa Italia in place of Marco Storari, but it’s a possibility nonetheless.

Paolo De Ceglie

The left back once looked to have a bright future in Turin, but has fallen by the way-side of late. He was due to spend the season on loan at Parma, but was called back in January to provide cover at left back due to Kwadwo Asamoah’s injury.

Another loan spell, if not an outright sale seems like the likeliest of outcomes. At only 28-years-old, he may yet provide value as Juve’s left back if Asamoah moves into the midfield and Patrice Evra retires.

Simone Pepe

Another player who hasn’t gotten the most field time as of late, Pepe has worked his way back from injury, but has yet to receive many full games. He’s gone the full 90 only once this season and other than that has only eclipsed a half hour once. Most of his appearances tend to be 20 minutes or less.

The Italian stands at a bit of a career crossroads. At 31, this may be his last chance to move to a club and be a major contributor. Does he go somewhere else and do that or stay at Juve and fight for a spot? Given the quality of the Old Lady, it would seem Pepe would be destined for a bit-part, bench sparkplug role for the rest of his time in Turin if he isn’t sold.

Whether Roberto Pereyra’s loan is made permanent could play a big role in whether Pepe stays.

Alessandro Matri

Matri was never quite was able to figure it out in Turin the first time around and seems destined to depart the Bianconeri for the second time.

The striker is on loan from Milan (Juve sold him to the Rossoneri in 2013) and has had loan stints with Fiorentina and Genoa before arriving once again in Turin. He was brought in strictly for depth and as such his loan deal remains unlikely to be made permanent. Like Llorente, he’ll need to leave to potentially create space for the likes of Berardi and Zaza and open up more minutes for Kingsley Coman.

Romulo

The midfielder hasn’t played much for Juve due to injury. Because of that, his loan deal may not be made permanent despite a reasonable price.

All stats courtesy of http://www.whoscored.com/ unless otherwise noted.

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