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The Man With No Nickname

September 4, 2017

We all know by now that the transfer window has come to a close. Not quickly enough for my taste. The keys on most every fan’s’ keyboard have been tapping away putting together reviews, analysis, previews of the season, etc. I have chimed in with my brief review of the mercato already, but now it is time to look forward. There will be no more moves until January, and that typically makes me feel pretty positive as we are not much of a January market team. Outside of Beppe and Co.’s typical stroke of genius with young talent that is. Now we can return to more prudent matters of debate and conversation.

Today our topic will be a member of our squad who largely goes unnoticed. (Fun fact: He made his Juventus senior team debut against Real Madrid in the 2015 Champions League.) Stefano Sturaro is a young man who goes about his business with consummate professionalism. He trains hard, he is nearly silent in the media, social or otherwise, and he gives 100% every time he steps on the field for us. There’s a word in Italian that gets casually tossed around as one of the coin phrases when talking about players, “grinta.” Literally, grinta means grit. Contextually, it could typically be perceived as desire, heart, strength of will, or courage. This is a word that I feel embodies young Stefano.

For those of you who can remember, and will recall the games he played last year in what is an entirely unnatural position for him, I can only say that many of us were probably a bit harsh on Stefano. His traits and qualities do not lend to playing on the wing. Could we expect Pipita to perform well as a CB? Stefano was most commonly used as a sub,  coming on for a player such as Dani Alves. When deployed in his more natural role, he fared exceptionally well. A closer look at his statistics shows that for the amount of time he played, his output for his actual qualities was quite good. Additionally, the necessity of putting a player like Sturaro on the wing, even as a sub, highlights the lack of depth we had for certain positions after the switch to a 4-2-3-1.

Beyond the obvious clamors for an additional CM during the market on a daily basis, we too often cast our gaze away from our own talent. My question is why? We begged for strength in the center, someone who could shield the defence, allow Pjanic to focus on his passing abilities rather than defensive duties, an industrious player who can play a full 90, and someone who isn’t afraid to get stuck into a tackle. I’ll admit he certainly isn’t the best on the ball,  and may not have the pedigree of some other players out there, but he embodies the qualities we want in a Juventus player. Is Matuidi renowned for his capabilities on the ball or for his industrious nature?

Furthermore, I also firmly believe that Sturaro could easily slot into the RB position if needed. Especially against lesser sides. Highlighting again his obvious defensive qualities and the serious engine and determination he has, I don’t see why we couldn’t deploy him there with success. For a great example, one only needs to look at Asamoah. He is an industrious CM that was converted to a LWB, and he held a starting role in our squad for years.

My point is this: He is a young and highly rated Italian at just 24 years of age, and should he once again be sparingly used, the last thing we should do is consider selling him. He should be allowed to continue to develop, and my hope is that he becomes  an integral part of our side for years to come. He is a versatile, intelligent player, capable of fulfilling multiple roles. It is a long and gruelling season across multiple competitions where we will need strength in depth, and this may very well be the year he gets his chance to prove himself. One he more than deserves.

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  • ho Hi

    No. In my view Sturaro is a kind of a donkey. Maybe theres potential. I always hoped he could be a Vidal /Gattuso kind of player. But til today its sometimes or often just weak shit hes showing us.
    Why dont we bring on Kastanos in first squad and dump Stefano to Bergamo or Lazio?
    He had many chances to show what he can offer. And yes he was great against Real fucking 2 years ago. And so what?
    Lets face the truth, I hope that Bentancur will be better than Stefano. With more grinta,and of course talent.

    Arent they two similar players?

    • No similar at all..Stefano seems more a box to box midfielder, with tough tackling, average skill on the ball, simple yet mega gritty and effective. Rodrigo is a player of far greater guile, much more comfortable on and running with the ball. His defensive work is also more focused on nicking the ball from players, using his intelligence to step in and cover not lunge in or outmuscle…Greater passing range, and a delightful turn of pace.

      • ho Hi

        Ok,but I still think that Stefano didnt really developed the last years. He had his chances.

        Why are players like Dybala,Rugani just more impressive ?

        • Niko Belic

          Wondering about the same thing. Sturaro started impressively, then stagnated in the 2015-16 season and seemed to go backwards last season. Nobody seems to know what’s wrong with him.

          • ho Hi

            Yeah,thats what i mean.
            I never understood the contract renewal.
            So we will see. Imagine we would now have some kind of Edgar Davids. I miss those pitbull players. Hope that Matu shows some masculine powerness in front of the defence.

          • Travis Gallardo

            Easy to see why he regressed some. 21 games, 1100 minutes. Not playing enough.

          • He was playing as a LM last season, more often than not. He is a tough tackling, hard running box to box CM, not great at carrying the ball, but fine at getting involved in team moves, covering defensively supporting offensively and shoring up the middle.

            Rewatch the Juve 1-0 Roma game…Completely different player.

            I am not saying he is a world beater, just that it is wrong to judge when he is playing miles out of position.

  • Mikkel Andersen

    Matuidi is better than Sturaro. Not perfect like Vidal or Pogba, but a great player.

    • Juventino Persa

      Comparing Matuidi and Sturaro is like comparing Pogba to Padoin!

  • Xx RForcE xX

    Sturaro is average player .thats it.this guy had 1 good game.nothing else.

  • Juventino Persa

    Hell no! the only reason he is still in our rank is that he is Italian! That’s it, otherwise would not last a half season, otherwise nobody would be even talking about him!

    And no, he will make a disastrous RB, why? all good and even normal full backs need to be good with the ball, Sturaro is afraid of the ball, to say the least. Asamoah is 10 times better on ball and sending the ball into the box than him. I have seen many matches of him in different positions, he is a good lad, just not Juve material, better back in Genoa! One spark of excellence in that Juve-Madrid match or that gaol against Bayern is not enough! He has had more than enough chances, he lost them! Sorry I am not buying it!

    • comrade! he has played far more decent games than the few mentioned (all as a CM, not LM)…and..as for this suggestion that he is in the squad solely because he is italian, can you please elaborate?

      We do not need him to meet the home grown requirements –
      Buffon, Chiellini, Barzagli, De Sciglio(In Italy)
      Pinsoglio, Marchisio, Rugani (in house) – * still not 100% sure if rugani counts as in house, for he has not played 3 years with our youth team.

      Regardless of Rugani, we don’t need any more italians, especially those not developed ‘in club’ to meet the requirements of UEFA or the FIGC.

      I also have noted a preference for an italian core in the side, which makes sense as Juve are an italian team, and yet no eagerness over the years to hold onto weak players just because they are italian. The need to make best use of every squad position is too great to do otherwise.

      So can you please provide me with your thinking to confirm your point? I do not see the same.

      My own view is that he was asked to play a different role last season, and has stayed this Summer after being told he would get chances to play in his more natural role. Only if he continues to appear on the wing will something seem very odd to me.

      • Juventino Persa

        Hi friend, thanks for sharing your thoughts. By pointing out to his nationality, I didn’t mean UEFA or FIGC requirements. What I meant was the preference toward Italians, (which for Juve as an Italian club is totally fine, and due to our history of providing the spine of the Azzuri team) somtimes ends in preferrences not based on merits. We can argue for hours about the careers of Rincon, Lemina, Pereira, and even Hernanes, but for me non of them were less beneficial for our squad in total than Sturaro, and yet they have been offloaded without being given enough chances to prove themselves in their rightful positions. I think there are quality young Italian players which I would rather put my faith, than a player who has 2.5 years in out team to prove himself.

        I don’t want to discuss a lot about this, but just compare the way our management treats Lichtsteiner, while he gave us his everything for the shirt and despite being our best RB (in my opinion our only decent one!) is still left outside CL squad while Allegri is going to use De Sciglio (oh, god! with those disastrous performances in preseason! – I hope he improves to be at least a normal RB!!- he is already 24, doesn’t have that much time to develop as a player!) or Barzagli as RB. I may not be able to convince you, but I’m kind of sure it wouldn’t happen if Lichtsteiner was Italian, or likes of De Sciglio and Sturaro were not!

  • Niko Belic

    He began so brightly in his Juventus career, May 2015 was a particular highlight with his all-action performance against Real and his stunning goal against Napoli.

    Since then however… nothing. Seems to have stagnated and even regressed. The early 2015-16 games played with a midfield of Sturaro-Lemina-Hernanes are some of the weakest I have seen of Juventus in recent years. Only Rincon has been even worse than him last season.

    Realistically he’s only at Juventus because of his nationality, otherwise he’d have followed Rincon, Lemima and Hernanes out of the door. I’m at a loss because he’s a player who indicated potential in the bast but no one knows what is his problem and how his qualities could be unleashed again.

    I think games against opponents that have a lot of the ball (Barcelona, Napoli) may well be his last chance to show his worth. He is quite good breaking down the opposition and fighting. Barring that, he has to go. He is relatively useless against most teams.

  • Ali El Shaer

    IMO Sturaro is not bad at all! he’s young, strong and got the ‘grinta’. but in fact, when it comes to technically ability, he lacks almost everything, aside from maybe tackling and retaining the ball. so if that’s his only main capabilities, am very sure that’s why he didn’t shine along with Hernanes and Lemina. Sturaro needs to play along the likes of Pjanic Matuidi Marchisio or maybe even Khedira. I think when this happens he might get a chance to show if he really is the player we all thought he would have become back in 2015. If he’s not able to do that then i think Juve would be better off without him.

  • RAC

    I don’t think Sturaro is very good. I like the guy, but I agree with the people who have said that the only reason he remains in the team is his nationality. I wish Lemina had been Italian, rather than Sturaro. He showed more quality and could have developed into a good player with game time.
    I appreciate Sturaro’s running and his grit. He is good for bursting into the box, and he is good for rushing back into a challenge, but he is no good in a controlled situation of possesion or build-up, which is the kind of football Juventus should strive for. He is all adrenaline and no quality. I have not seen a single game that convinces me he can be intelligent or skilled with the ball. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong, however, and the board must see something in him..

    • RAC

      I will correct myself. I saw ONE occasion of Sturaro quality with the ball. That cross to Mandzukic for the 1-0 in the 2015 Supercoppa vs Lazio was sublime.

      • Juventino Persa

        hahaha! you are so right, I remember that night I told myself: Oh, Sturaro can actually cross and creates something?! But 2 years later and …

  • RequiemForTheUnderdog

    well Can seems destined to come in next year, So i say Sturaro’s days are numbered, He never struck me as a Juventino quality player, and has failed to develop. Just like Zaza, who also has “Grinta” they are good players but better suited for mid table quality teams, and not for heavyweights like Juve.

    though I am also not a big Emre Can fan, his quality and skill is far Superior to that of Sturaro’s, and that says a lot considering Can is nothing special himself…..or not yet, though he has had some splendid games in the Confederations for Germany and for Liverpool Vs Hoffenheim and Arsenal.

    • Mate, you are talking of a player we have not signed, there can be no agreement with until January who will be offered much more money from other PL sides and possibly elsewhere. Can is nowhere near a certainty. An upgrade on Sturaro though…he would seem to be. Yet without playing regularly in a position which makes the most of his natural talents – hustle, box to box, tackle, mark, cover – centrally located, we will not see any development.

      I remember seeing Stefano move a little more centrally for the home game with Roma late last year. He was instantly better, and one of the best in black and white on the field.

      Terrible on the flank, he is no good at carrying the ball, but put him on the middle and he can be valuable.

  • BelgianJuventino

    Oh boy, a Sturaro debate, here goes! I’m still a fan of Sturaro and glad to see someone else than myself or TGP defend the lad. Sturaro is exactly what you said he is: young, full of fight, strong engine in his legs. And he is being shoehorned in the completely wrong role. It was the same with Marchisio all those years ago, I don’t recall the coach who came up with it (Del Neri?) but he also used Claudio as a LW. Needless to say, that didn’t work out either.

    Sturaro can be of good value if only we used him in his proper role. I will make the comparison, think of Gattuso. Widely considered a great midfielder, but the guy couldn’t kick a ball decently either. That is not what people expected from him. He was great to break up play, recapture balls, be a giant asshole to the other team, nullify any kind of threat. But for the love of god, don’t expect a Pirlo-esque long ball from Gattuso or the flair and speed of a Zidane.

    I see much of the same in Sturaro. I am not saying he is “the new Gattuso”, but I do say that Juventus and the fans continue to undervalue Sturaro.

    • Niko Belic

      Hello, yes you are totally right, there was one coach who used Marchisio in a LW role! But I think it was Ferrara rather than Delneri (who arrived one season later). Delneri pretty sure he used his traditional 4-4-2 with Aquilani and Melo in the middle and Pepe/Krasic on the wings. Marchisio didn’t play often that season.

      However the comparison with Sturaro may not be right. First of all Marchisio showed technical skills in his early 20s that we’ve never seen with Sturaro. Then, the latter playing at LW has only been a situation that began last season. Other than that he’s played mostly in central positions, without delivering.

      I also think comparisons with Gattuso are off the mark though I am aware of these comparisons too. Gattuso could not dribble or score, but he could control and pass a ball with acceptable skill.

      Sturaro instead reminds me of Antonio Nocerino. Both were 22 when they joined Juventus and showed early promise. Nocerino however was sent to Palermo as part of the Amauri deal. He performed well there, to the dismay of Juventus fans who were dealing with the likes of Almiron/Tiago/Poulsen/Sissoko playing at CM at the time. When he got himself a move to champions Milan in 2011, it looked as though Juve’s regrets would be eternal.

      But Nocerino’s career stagnated spectacularly with the Rossoneri. He won nothing there and ended up at West Ham while Juve were embarking on a run of success.

      Maybe Marotta wishes to keep Sturaro to avoid a repeat of the Nocerino-Palermo situation. I feel very frustrated because the player has clearly shown some ability but something is holding him back. To me he is best deployed as a “destroyer” in midfield – a player like Felipe Melo (at his best) who rarely attacks but works hard to break down the opposition’s attacks.

      • BelgianJuventino

        Hi Nico! First of all, thank you for this fantastic reply – I read this with a lot of pleasure. To reply as well now:

        It could certainly have been Ferrara too, I really can’t recall it, but now that you mentioned 4-4-2 Del Neri, I think you’re right there. I didn’t mean to compare Sturaro to Claudio though, only in the raw definition of what happens when you use a CM as LM, a situation both found themselves in. Besides that, there is little to compare between the two indeed.

        About comparing Sturaro to Gattuso, he is of course not at Gattuso’s level. He is, in my eyes, of the same mold. So are Melo and Nocerino, though I would rate Nocerino less physical than the aforementioned players. (I still shudder when I think we bought Poulsen when we could have had Xabi Alonso instead!)

        It is a good thing the Blanc – Secco days are over, they were guiding Juve straight into the abyss..

        And I think we both reach the same conclusion regarding Sturaro, he should be fulfilling the ‘Gattuso/Melo’ role in this team. I think Matuidi has the edge over him for now though, but I am not keen to sell Sturaro. A loan might help him gain more experience/exposure though.

        He is that destroyer, but manages to keep a cool head – unlike the flammable Melo. That is for me a big plus. As of now, I am curious to see that human machine Matuidi perform though, as sad as I am for Sturaro.

        • Niko Belic

          hello BelgianJuventino, same here, highly appreciated reading your remarks.

          We basically agree on Sturaro. We have all seen this ability he displayed the first half of 2015. So it is frustrating to see him unable to replicate that sort of performance even though he has the ability. It is not like Poulsen or Sissoko whose ability was nowhere to be seen! I want to believe he can make it at Juventus, there is definitely room for a midfielder of his profile. Indeed he manages not to overstep his role, unlike Melo who is often excessive with his aggression.

          Re. Matuidi, I have watched him closely for nearly a decade now. He used to be a ‘destroyer’ kind of midfield too but he has evolved to be more attacking over the last 3-4 years. Hence I think he will be competing more with Khedira and Bentancur than with Sturaro.

  • Dar Black

    There is an argument that all teams MUST have a Sturaro type player.

    Why? Because you can’t get any player who ** knows ** that they are good enough to be playing every match for the club (or at least most of them) to sit out on the bench warming it up every matchday. There have to be squad players who know they are not 1st choice and therefore are not going to feature in many / any games at least as a starter, and that is why there are squad players in EVERY club. It’s a fact of football, and just the way it is!

    The occasional start / or subs appearance is all they will get, they know it and they are happy with that. There salary reflects that situation. Tell me how on earth will get Emre Can / Andres Gomes etc to come to the club on the unspoken but fully understood premise of just being an occasional starter or sub? Not going to happen, ever. Either because they are playing most games for their current club and don’t want to lose that or because they want out of their current club precisely because that is the situation that they already find themselves in.

    Those people that will come back and say you can get better squad players than SS and play them in a rotation are deluding themselves – why would Agnelli and Beppe give Max squad players that he has to play to avoid them having a tantrum? Max wants to choose his rotation based on a need, not an ego.

    So to the question, is Sturaro good enough for Juve? Yes, absolutely to fill the requirement for a squad player. That is what he is, and what he does for us. Nothing more, nothing less. Is he a better squad player than Lemina, Hernanes or Asamoah? Well that I will leave for discussion. I don’t think Hernanes was a squad player tbh, he was better than all of them is terms of passing and distribution But they all have + / -‘s in terms of ability. Which stay and which leave is probably down to player preference and finances. Squad players are all much the same quality.

    • Well put, my friend…Every line makes perfect sense.

    • Travis Gallardo

      Really great thought process. I personally may give stefano a little more credit to fulfill his potential and become more involved than being a squad player for life.

  • Niko Belic

    Many good points yes. Sturaro is useful to have as a member of the squad. But he must rediscover his form of his first 4-5 months with Juventus and he must be deployed in his correct position. I see no future for him as a box-to-box or attacking midfielder, he does not offer enough of an attacking threat. But he can be very good at breaking down opposition attacks in games where Juventus are defending deep and conceding possession.

    I politely disagree with you regarding Hernanes on the other hand. Having seen him during his Lazio days where he was simply brilliant, I can’t bring myself to giving him any credit for his accomplishments at Juve. Even with regards to passing – which is supposed to be a strength of his – he often struggled to retain possession. Or he played safe passes, which are not useful.

    When you’ve known the Hernanes of Lazio & Sao Paulo (two-footed, creative, able to score as well as provide chances for others, set piece specialist), it is just not possible to accept the watered-down version that we had to suffer in Turin.