Five new signings and many more on the radar, Juventus have been hard at work on reconstructing an ailing squad and seem intent on creating a glorious new season that has officially begun. As last season’s squad could barely motivate themselves to win a few games, summer holidays have been cut short as the team begins training for the upcoming Europa League preliminary matches.
Last season is now nothing but a bad memory as Giuseppe Marotta has already made five new signings and Juventus fans are now hungry for the season to begin to see just how they will fare. Luigi Del Neri made it clear he intends to deploy a 4-4-2 formation or a variation of it, and for a while it seemed wingers were the Bianconeri’s priority with the defence being left until last, much to the fans’ disappointment. However, Marotta calmed the tides and swiftly introduced the coup of the summer, Leonardo Bonucci, as Juventus’ new centre-back. Composed, elegant, yet physical, Bonucci defines the new era of Italian defenders. With his masterful and well-timed tackles, his physical presence and exceptional reading of the game, this centre-back is certainly worthy of the Italian seal of approval. Furthermore, he has a penchant for scoring goals and is well versed in the art of finishing. Alongside Giorgio Chiellini, Juve and the Azzurri could be looking at their centre-back pairing for the next 10 years.
Work on the defence has not stopped there and Marco Motta has been officially unveiled as the new right-back for this season. Clever negotiating meant that the Old Lady secured the services of the promising Italian defender for only €500 000 with the option to buy him outright for €5m next season. Claudio Gentile has approved the youngster and assured sceptical fans of the talent Motta can inject into the first team. He is fast, physical, can be brilliant in the air and in love with the notion of pushing forward. However, with so many physical players in defence, one wonders how well they would all work together especially as Chiellini and Bonucci are similar in their defensive approach. Could there be space for another style of defender in addition to a left-back? There has to be as Del Neri will be hoping for a very attacking 4-4-2 formation with wingers asked to concentrate more on pushing forward thus a strong defence is vital and considering Juve’s curse with injuries, a move for Philippe Mexes could well be in the pipeline to ensure depth.
With CSKA Moscow standing strong on their financial demands for Serbian winger Milos Krasic, the Old Lady turned her attention to Catania’s Jorge Martinez. The boy has proved to be a phenomenon for Catania last season and seems ready to take the next step of his career. He is likely to play on the right wing but is equally apt playing as a second striker. However, Krasic is determined to make the move to Turin and the Italian Giants still seem interested in his acquisition. With his well-documented desire to play for the Bianconeri and his refusal to play for Manchester City, is he not worth the extra €1.5m simply because he would be a player that would bleed for the black and white jersey?
Juve now have a lot of sales to make and Antonio Candreva has waved a dignified goodbye to the Bianconeri as new purchases, lack of funding and a new formation means the Turin Giants could not sign him outright. Speaking of formations, if Diego stays in Turin then Del Neri is likely to adopt a 4-4-1-1 formation with the Brazilian trequartista playing behind a power striker. However, with the current pick of strikers available, none seem capable of truly threatening the opposition’s defence. A strong forward is needed despite Del Neri’s satisfaction with what he has available and Edison Cavani has already thrown his name into the mix. If the Bianconeri go Uruguayan, then let us hope they settle for his striking partner, Luis Suarez instead.
With Italy failing so spectacularly in the World Cup, many have pointed the finger at the dominance of Inter in the Italian league and the failings of Milan and Juve. La Nazionale have long been associated with Juventus with many national stars plying their trade in Turin. It is no coincidence that the Bianconeri’s worst ever season coincides with the Azzurri’s embarrassing first round exit so it serves Italy that Juve continue in their philosophy of buying Italian and investing in youth. Bonucci, Motta, Marco Storari and Simone Pepe hope to begin a new winning cycle at Juve and should they gel together, they could well make life much easier for Cesare Prandelli. However, it remains to be seen just how good Marotta is at his job and whether all these players will pave the way for Juve to return to its rightful place in the top four.