Juan: back to his best or going out with a bang?

Earlier in the season I wrote an article on the decline of Juan. Having been a colossus for Roma last season he had lost his place to Philippe Mexes after a series of poor performances suggested he was past his peak. Speculation suggested, come the end of the season, he would follow Mexes out of the club as the new owners look to assemble a squad capable of challenging for the Scudetto next season.

Romabig

Since then, however, the Brazilian appears to have come almost full circle. Signs of a return to form were visible back in March when he bullied Sergio Floccari out of the Roma derby and inspired his side to a clean sheet. The come back was completed more recently after Mexes suffered a season ending injury and left Vincenzo Montella with a choice between Juan and the simply awful Simone Loria to partner Nicolas Burdisso at the back. Since his reinstatement, the Brazilian has been steadily improving and, while still prone to a lapse in concentration now and then, seems to be regaining some of last season’s form. In last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Milan, Juan was a behemoth in defence, successfully marshalling Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the rest of the Rossoneri’s all star front line.

Against Milan Juan was dominant in every aspect of his play. He was in a league of his own aerially and his pace and power got Roma out of jail on several occasions. Also present was a level of concentration he had been missing for most of the season up to now. It is not just in defence his game has improved, mind. The Brazilian is a major threat in the opposition penalty area from corners and free kicks and proved he can contribute in an attacking sense in open play by winning a penalty against Bari from which Francesco Totti scored.

This resurgence seems to have come at just the right time for Juan. In recent weeks there has been much talk about his future with all manner of clubs being linked with his signature. A move back to Brazil with Flamengo has been discussed and, more recently, Bayern Munich have been credited with an interest. With Mexes’s departure now confirmed, however, the Roma management may be keen to keep Juan at the club for another season.

If his current upward trajectory continues into next season there appears to be no reason why he could not compete for a starting berth. A great deal will, of course, depend on the club’s activity in the transfer market this summer as the new owners are expected to invest heavily. However, looking down the long list of names linked with Roma, there are few if any central defensive players. This suggests, while an overhaul may be in the offing for much of the squad, the defence may only be tweaked slightly. Should this end up being the case, Juan may yet have a role to play in next season’s new, improved Roma.

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