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Juventus Winter Mercato Mutterings

December 28, 2016

The mercury has risen yet again to horrifying levels and simply refuses to drop, yet I began the below in a flurry whilst at work and I will strive onwards and attempt to finish, under an oppressive onslaught from Mother Nature.

As previously reported, it appears that we have invested in Atalanta starlet Mattia Caldara, and our business with the surprise package of the season thus far may not end there. For this mercato window has the potential to be far more interesting than the usual fare.

We will soon have Benatia, Lemina (and perhaps Asamoah)heading off to Africa for 2-3 weeks to compete in the African Cup of Nations, departures which make little difference to our fortunes. As all of these players are part timers at best. It remains touch and go as to whether Asamoah will head off, given his continued injury bothers.

Interest seems real for Hernanes from China and Spain (also Genoa), a player who has enjoyed his finest months for the club of late. The only squad member able to prove in any way reliable in the integral regista role of the 3-5-2 in Marchisio’s absence. I would wish him well if he departed. Also Mandragora will head out on loan to continue recovery from his broken foot and development, I believe to Pescara or Atalanta. Likely the latter, with whom we may also pick up an option on Gagliardini…There might also be some trick up Beppe’s sleeve to sign Ascoli’s Riccardo Orsolini, then loan him to Atalanta in exchange for an option or definite signing of one of their players. Orsolini, 18, is an Italy U20 international front man, who has been compared to Berardi. His form shows 4 goals, 4 assists from his 20 appearances thus far this season. Interest in his services is running high, with AC and Roma both casting covetous glances.

It would not be a surprise to see either Lemina, Hernanes or Asamoah sold. Though Asamoah might be worth keeping as a back up to Sandro, reprising his LWB role? I cannot see where Lemina offers any value. Perhaps a utility midfielder? He is no natural back-up to Sami, nor Sturaro, nor Marchisio, nor Witsel if he comes. And we have Dybala and Pjanic for the 1 in a 4-3-1-2 line-up.

I quite like the idea of Tomas Rincon, whom we are rumoured to be close to signing for a 2m loan fee with obligation to purchase come the Summer for a further 7/8m…He is captain for Venezuela, would bring a wealth of experience and is enjoying another solid season for Genoa. He would provide leadership and bite. Both of which have been sorely lacking with Sturaro and Marchisio absent until recently. Rincon and Witsel would inject steel the central areas, which has been often haphazard and porous with the likes of Asamoah and Lemina failing to make the grade more often than not when given the chance and Khedira in fairly average form. If we do revert to a flat back four and Sandro is injured…I am unsure if we can rely on Evra for the bigger games, yet Chiellini could happily fill in there, albeit with less crossing ability but steady muscle, defensive nous and hustle. Interesting to see who Beppe has lined up for a LB/ LWB in the Summer. De Sciglio would be perfect. Other than which I cannot see much movement.

Indeed, the Rincon story appears welcome on many fronts, for to sign him sends a signal to Zenith that we will not be held to ransom to pay over the odds for Witsel (who we can sign for free in June). If the myriad of stories are to believed – Witsel has wanted us for a while and was bothered by the last minute failure of the transfer to finalise in the Summer. He has other offers, which he has refused as he has eyes only for Juve. Now that is the kind of player I want at the club. He could assuredly earn more elsewhere but he wants to be a Juventino. Join our cause. I very much hope we sign him, and the clubs do not appear far apart in terms of agreeing to a fee. 5-6m appears Beppe’s idea, with the Russians (of course) more eager for 9-10m. What Axel will bring to the squad is high level experience, versatility, a physical presence in the midfield and a steely determination. Some will know of his horror tackle on the Anderlecht hard-man Wasilewski…

The challenge left the defender out for a year, and led to a witch-hunt in Belgium, which eventually forced Axel to leave his native home and move to Benfica. He excelled in Portugal, earning a big money move to Russia thereafter. His career is not one of a savage. It was a one-off, caught in the moment tackle of a bruising encounter between two clubs sharing a heinous rivalry and I believe there was zero intent to cause such agony. It changed him as a player, and as a man. He developed a thick skin, grew quieter and focused on his football. Success has been found wherever he has played, and his positions have ranged from right wing to attacking midfield to defensive midfield. He has the ability to dictate the pace of a game, screen the defence, mount attacks and act as the fulcrum of the side.

As with Pogba, he is very hard to knock off the ball, and he would be perfect for linking the defence and attack as the Belgian is comfortable bringing the ball forward as well as making up the numbers up top. He can also tackle and wins his fair share of aerial challenges as well as on the grass.

It has been clear to many that our problems lie in the midfield. Rincon looks like a nutjob, he is a fighter whose glare alone would strike fear into opponents…He is a midfield General. An enforcer who loves the battle and leads from the front lines.

The dynamic duo represent a major injection of muscle and guile. And I believe both would improve the squad.

To solve our midfield issues for less than 20m in one fell swoop would be wonderful business. Both players are eligible for the champions league. And I cannot see any other positions in obvious need of reinforcements. Perhaps cover at LB, but I suspect we are ear-marking that move for the Summer, hopefully De Sciglio.

If we are able to strengthen the middle, recover Dybala, Bonnuci, Barzagli, Sturaro, Sandro and Pjaca, the 6th scudetto looks assured and our chances to progress in Europe are greatly enhanced.

Apologies for the mangled nature of the above. The temperature has been steady at 38C for most the day and now late in the evening it has ‘cooled’ to 34C. Whilst I am half sicilian by blood and nature, I am very much an Englishman when it comes to such terrible heat, my mind slows down, my synapses begin to melt and my thoughts become muddled…

Essentially, our main focus is the midfield and our prospective options appear superb.

forza juve

(follow me on Twitter here)

 

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  • Dar Black

    Hard frost here in the homeland chap…. I will do you a swap. Some of your heat for our cold.

    English press say Franck Kessie is EPL bound. Has he fallen off our radar?

    • Mate, its fucking 32C at 11pm…the insects are all over me, I am trying to muddle my way through a very thorough report on Syria by a chap named Elijah and can but hope that the above makes some semblance of sense…and yes yes! Let us swap. I crave the company of Jack Frost…many of these insects, I have no idea what the fuck they are…flying beetles, moths with fangs, dwarf wasps, i am a lightning rod for them all, but indoors…well, I am cooling my room with a portable refrigerator cum air conditioner, in the hope that with a little more vodka and some melatonin, I can find slumber. Hound by my feet, beetles on the warpath, sensing my weakness, wishing you well in the death throes of what has proven until late a foul year…D

      • Dar Black

        Good grief, where are you based – sounds like the extremes of the Northern Territory! 🙂 I thought that is only where the nasty bugs lurk in Aus.

        Yes it has been a lousy year, weird how everyone is saying that. And from me that is not coming from politics. Brexit I approve of, although I despised Hillary for the out of touch political animal she is I could never get on board with a man who thinks the answer to gun crime is more guns. No my own lousy year goes like this:

        Made redundant by Caterpillar on Dec 31st after near 16 years dedication (one of many thousands of CAT job cuts this year – Australia has seen it’s fair share too…) This is due to the incompetance of the chairman who a few years back bet all the company chips on the mining industry only for it to collapse within months of him blowing near $8 billion on a mining acquisition… Took some months out, but I have only just recently been offered a new job. The IT industry is not kind to 40 somethings looking for a job…. cult of youth rules.

        Early July I got a phone call to say my mother had been rushed into hospital, and would likely not survive the operation. Thankfully she did, but spent 10 weeks in hospital recovering.

        I got home from the hospital late that night, crashed out on my bed and phone started ringing again off the hook. I naturally assumed my mother had had a relapse, but on answering was told my father (parents are separated) had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.. No kidding, the same f*cking day. Just because these things come in 3’s my mothers dog who was being looked after by a friend had a huge seisure or something and would have to be put down the next day! I ask you, how much can a mere mortal take on the same day…. So woke up thinking I would never see my mother alive again, went to bed knowing I would never see the dog again and my father for not much longer. My father passed away less than 4 months later on Nov 1st.

        Add in the loss of several of my music heroes and agreed chap all around 2016 has been the year the devil did his worst.

        In fact, some things like this blog and the articles you and the others post chap have actually kept my chin up and sanity by way of distraction. So thanks for that. Not meaning this to be a tearfest or sympathy sponge, it’s happpened and life sucks. What can you do except try and cling on, survive the crap you get dealt and look forward to some good stuff. Football is irrelevant in the scheme of things, but a 6th title and a good run in the CL would help go a long way to cheer things up. That and some money coming in at last.

        Here is to a better 2017 for all of us.

        • Dear God mate…..you have been through it.
          My year was dire…..but it pales in comparision to yours. Really hope your mother is on the mend and sincere condolences on the passing of your dad. Can’t imagine what you must have gone through but it sounds like you’re ready for a better year ahead – So much respect for you. Lets hope that we finally lift that big eared trophy and make it a year to remember, for all the right reasons

          • Dar Black

            Cheers Rav. I know nobody who claims to have had a good year – it’s really uncanny how bad this year seems to have been. Maybe a combination of economic and political uncertainty mixed in with terrorism threat and all the celebs dropping. Feels like everything taken for granted is unravelling a bit doesn’t it… To be fair, others have had far worse if you think about the Syrians of course.

        • Brilliantly honest and gritty, you make me miss home and proud of my tribe, my friend…And I’ll respond in kind this evening after work, where you find me heading, haggard, maybe two hours fitful slumber, a cantankerous cadaver with far less patience and tolerance for the mongs and conceited hordes of Melbourne than usual…could be an interesting day, as when feeling close to collapse my instincts revert to base, I want to devour every nubile wench and cut the face from every fool…neither I usually act upon…perhaps today will be different…I had to move on this damn train, as I heard myself swearing an Indian girl singing loudly as I try to sleep and her mother films her…off with their heads! It is in this beastly state I notice more the difference between others and myself. There is no fire in their eyes, no blood lust in their words, just flat souls, dead spirits…keep your head above the slaughter line, comrade and I best stumble into the office. D

  • Dubaianconeri

    “I am very much an Englishman when it comes to such terrible heat, my mind slows down, my synapses begin to melt and my thoughts become muddled”

    Still a great article brother! Any thoughts on James becoming a juve player?

    • Juventino Persa

      James is a fantastic player, and fits the trequartista role perfectly, the combination of James, Dybala and Higuain would be totally lethal.
      But the point is I think that transfer is gonna be very expensive, and given his agent’s good relationship with Jose Mourinho, it’s unlikely. And it would take the best position of Pjanic from him, although for me James is a substencial upgrade to him.

    • Whilst we could likely afford the transfer fee in the Summer, we will not be able to match the wages on offer at other top clubs and so I assume he is out of reach. Also…Serie A has yet to return to the allure of old, with the riches, mass media exposure and culture of England appealing to players more than Italy. He would be immense, yet I see our side as pretty settled other than a new LB in the Summer…

  • Fantastic work TGP – Much inclined to agree with all you have written my friend. The versatility of Rincon offers us cover in the RB position if required, a player eligible for the CL, hard-working, industrious, a real engine on the lad and i’m sure he’ll be eager to impress. Granted, Sturaro can do a similar job, but this signing will hopefully mean a departure as well.

    The investment in youth, especially in defence is first rate on our part. Caldara, perhaps a move for Gagliardini…..i like where all this is heading.

    As i type, I read Rincon is a done deal – good news that we’re moving nice and early to get our man. Sincerely hope we do the same with Witsel – Poor Belgian bugger has waited long enough – 6m now or free in the summer – As you rightly say, superb business by Beppe again. less than 10m to solve our midfield concerns (if you factor 2m for Rincon on loan, 6m for Witsel)…..where else will you find deals like this? The club is operating with guile and cunning akin to the days of the triade!

    Roll on the new year

    • Juventino Persa

      well, my feeling about Rincon is kind of mixed. I really don’t think that we need more squad players, but we need champions who can take the team forward. I know it’s not easy to find Vidal-Tevez type of players, but I’m sure we don’t need Sturaro-Lamina type either! If they were good enough, our midfield was not like this!

      • I am happy with the signing. He brings something we have lacked all season, namely a physical, very hard working , resolute presence in front of the back four. Marchisio is indeed back, but it working his way back to full sharpness, the same can be said of Sturaro, whose performance against Roma was one of the strongest midfield showings of our season to date.

        Every team needs a worker, and Rincon fits the bill. He knows the league, has leadership qualities and a never say die attitude. Players like Pjanic, need someone to do the dirty work, and Rincon is our man for that role. Even better if we can add in Witsel, who is a classy player that will very much improve our midfield in many ways.

        • Carlinho

          Fully agreed!
          We tend to forget that in 2015 and early 2016 both, Sturaro and Lemina have shown to have quality, but we also forget that they have suffered long-term injuries.
          Rincon is probably similar to Sturaro with a better successful pass rate slightly more determination. If Witsel makes it to Turin, he’d be somewhat of a shoe-in for Vidal with slightly less talent.
          All the same, neither of these two will be able to do the things they’re now doing in their respective teams, if we don’t get to settle on a tactical shape and stick to it with any consistency. Much of the trouble our midfield has been running into, has been caused by having to change formation at every game (sometimes even during a game) because of all the injuries incurred into during the first half of the tournament. Again, we’re not going to be able to get rid of all these injuries unless we can have a decent pre-season training and do away with idiotic marketing pre-season tournaments half-way across the world.

      • Carlinho

        I don’t think that signing-up players during this January transfer window has the purpose of replacing Vidal-Tevez types. Its main purpose would be to replace players like Lemina, Asamoah and Benatia who will be called up by their national teams to compete in the African Nations Cup. Often, these players come back form international duty with serious injuries (see Asa) that sideline them for much longer than just the duration of the African cup. Asa, for example, has never recovered from the knee troubles aggravated during the 2015 edition of this tournament.

      • I think Rincon is a more refined version of Sturaro – He has plenty to offer, he’s eager to play for us and has started training already. I will wait until he’s played a few games before judging him.

  • BelgianJuventino

    Rincons medical is on the Juve facebookpage – its official guys, Rincon is a Juve player, at least on loan for now

    • I welcome the move. His nickname is ‘el general’ which makes sense given his captaincy of his national side and fierce determination. We have needed steel as well as experience and I look forward to seeing him provide a platform of malice in the midfield to screen the defence and allow the creative players to wave their wands…

      • BelgianJuventino

        I agree, while I dont know him that well, I welcome the move of a warrior to our ranks. Every team needs a player of his kind. Now Lets see how he fares eh!

  • B1anconer0

    Off topic, but I was just watching the Cl final 2015 again. Man, what a midfield Juve had! It was really unbelievable!

    I really can’t rate Rincon as I’ve barely seen him play and Witsel would/could be a good addition but do you guys think these players can get us back to the level of the squad we had in 2015? Let’s not forget that we’re still waiting for pjanic to hit form. His stats on assists and goals aren’t bad at all but he just goes missing too much during games.

    I just hope that the midfield + the formation can get sorted out. I just don’t see mandzu higuain and dybala playing together.

    I read an article on football-italia about Lippi’s take on the current Juve and that he thinks that allegri is planning to bring back the trident. what do you guys think about this?

    • Dar Black

      Witsel, Marchisio, Khedira and Pjanic is world class quartet if we can get them all on top form and playing in position.

    • BelgianJuventino

      Lippi had a trident of Dybala-Higuain-(Cuadrado/X) in mind though, he didnt mention Mandzukic. I dont know, if Pjaca gets fit and turns out as good as we hope for, that idea might work out. I dont want Cuadrado as a starter.

      As to whether or not it will be used by Allegri, I dont think it will be used as a starting formation. Perhaps during a game.

      Using both Higuain and Mandzukic is ineffective though, it takes away too much from the Argie in my opinion.

  • Hard to get excited about a 29-year-old winter transfer signing from Genoa….on loan…..and yet i’m hopeful. The midfield has lacked bite and is rigid and functional because players like Khedira and Pjanic are shackled. I really hope this frees us up to play a 4 man mid, Marchisio, Rincon, Khedira with Pjanic behind the front two with Rincon doing his share of the dirty work – I know, it’s a stretch to get excited about a player in his mould….but i’m optimistic about his arrival and hopeful that he can do a particular job for us that will free up the others. The guy seems to have grinta in spades and the right kind of attitude for a Juve player.

    News yesterday and today that a chinese club have made a ludicrous offer for Witsel – zenit have apparently accepeted, not it’s down to the player – There might be some truth in it, or it could just be a BS ploy, with Zenit well aware that Juve are not prepared to budge beyond 6m and perhaps a story like this might force our hand? I hope we don;t change our offer – if it’s up to the player, its on him to either earn a stupid amount of money in a league that has no respectability/credibility…..OR come and and play in the CL and have a shot at a treble. Up to him. We win either way.

    on that note i wish you all a truly happy new year, especially dear Dar Black who deserves a 2017 like no other. A throughly wretched year on a personal level as well, one that i don;t care to dwell on.

    As a Juventino, the future has never been brighter – I hope to see you all in 2017, ready for the challenging season ahead, safe in the knowledge that we are all destined for bigger and brighter things. FORZA !

    • Dar Black

      Cheers man, very kind of you. I hope we all have a good one! On football matters I feel sure Witsel will stick to his pledge to come. He can’t be short of money already and Juve would pay him well, and as he is a pro understands that China is a football no man’s land. His place in the national team will be lost, and he knows he can kiss goodbye to all chances of meaningful honours in the game.

      At Tevez’s age going for the money, well that’s ok, but clearly Oscar loves money more than his talent. As none of these players playing for big European clubs are short of money when he has had a few months of amateur level football he will realise what a catastrophic mistake he has made….

      • I will certainly add to that, mate…for whilst my own year – at least up until my recent trip to New Zealand – has proven consistently wretched on a personal front, my own bothers seem closer to mere trifles in comparison to your own woes. Thankfully you are imbued with english steel. And I can but hope that 2017 proves kinder, happier and absent of any further agony. Keep your head above the slaughter line my friend and your presence here as kept me coming back for more. Buon Anno.

        • Dar Black

          Cheers chap. Out of darkness comes light. Juventus post 06 proves that.

  • E.Micallef

    What is going on with all these chinese offerings??From where are they coming and where are all these funds coming from??

    • Dar Black

      Where do the Chinese billionaires get their money…… where do the Russian oligarchs get theirs from? Doubtless it’s either from dubious sources or if legit possibly gained from the blood and sweat of lots of little everyday people on very low wages. The sort of people who make Iphones for a bowl of rice or three a day, basic dormitory accomdation and a few dollars a week only for Apple to flog them for hundreds of dollars whilst paying bugger all tax via offshored financial jiggery-pokery. The joys of globalisation….

    • The chinese economy has been in overdrive for a fair handful of decades now. Their growth often sticking around a staggering 10%…They have industrialized at great pace, have millions of people who need to work, many areas have moved from abject poverty to more comfortable levels of survival and also the rich, the elite have been made immensely wealthy. It is communist capitalist…with private/public intertwined in terrible yet successful ways. The Chinaman is ubiquitous, making deals all over Africa, huge new trade deals with Russia, they invade economically, that is their empire, it is lucre based not arms based…and its growing, year by year.

      The new rich elite need to spend money on something, so they buy trophy players for their teams, but more worryingly is the state sponsored/direct mega investment in CLUBS around the world…i recall reading earlier in 2016 that Chinese investors had spent 2 Billion pounds on european clubs in the first 6 months of the year…

      As for how the money is made, yes yes, of course, profit comes from pillaging resources, both mineral and human, and china has become not just the world’s largest exporter but also the world’s largest international trader, taking into account imports and exports…The main positive I can see is that unlike the US and its vassal states, there is no Death Cult routine to add money to the coffers of a military industrial complex. The Chinaman is uninterested in any ideal other than profit, and they prefer to make profit without guns…however the Obama and Hilarious CLinton led Shite House have been steadily attempting to surround China with missiles as part of the Pacific Pivot routine. They see China as a very real enemy, and the MSM rarely reports of this constant build-up of arms near their borders…the exact same build-up of arms happening all around Russian borders…yet people see China and Russia as a military thread…hohoho…as intended.

      It is a complicated affair, but some of the above offers hints of insight. Perhaps!

  • Terrible news in regards to WItsel, though we are yet to hear from the player himself. It is easy for me to ponder that a player given the chance to challenge at the top level, earn countless millions would have no interest in moving to China, where his career becomes one solely of money making. Yet this is the state of play of modern football. It has happened with Ukraine, with Russia and to some degree with some teams from the Middle East. Huge fees, huge wages, and then the bubble bursts…It is nothing to be fearful of, for if players have no sporting ambition, we do not want them at our club, for we are equally about economic success as sporting success and aspire always to be at the very top. We only need and want players of the same mindset.

    Still, maybe we have it all wrong and he will be good to his word and join our club…

    • Dar Black

      It would be a shock if he now went back on his word of so many times of a desire to join us. But if he doesn’t, well f*ck him. This mega money from China is going to be a huge problem for European clubs, and will speed up the formation of a European super league without relagation to run in parallel to the domestic leagues. It’s the only way to generate more revenue in an effort to stop the Chinese poaching all the best players.

      Back to us, and I agree if we can’t get a star player will should hold fire. We are already stocked up with enough squad players, in fact if it were my choice now with Rincon added Mr Lemina can go. He serves no value keeping him, much rather keep Hernanes and Asamoah.

      • I like the idea of Gagliardini. Young, decent potential as both a regista or more central and italian. Inter seem desperate for the player, but he seems an ambitious lad and why would he sign for an Inter side lacking any semblance of success for many moons when Juve want him?

        Also, I like his attitude. Despite interest in his services this January, he made it clear, damn clear, a couple of weeks back in that he is focused on this term with Atalanta, with Europe a serious goal, and will definitely not be moving in January. That is the kind of attitude I admire. And hope that it plays more into our hands…

        As mentioned in the initial report…We may well supply the gold for Orsoloni (Ascoli) and he will head to Atalanta, in exchange for first option on Gagliardini in the Summer, where if they qualify for Europe, we could have a chat and leave him there…assuming the Atalanta adventure will not last another campaign and leaving him to develop further. Which doesn’t help us now, but he will be competing directly with quite likely Marchisio at present.

        Gustavo is another (like the Atalanta DM) who could well if signed in January be included in the CL squad. A waste of money for a player never really showing top class form.

        Tolisso is more interesting. Good age, yet only tested in a fairly weak League Un…still, he looked decent against us and is developing well.

        Finally, Nzonzi…who is older, more experienced and perhaps playing at a higher level. Also looked great against us in the CL!

        I’d rather we aimed for the youngster if we are to sign either, for he is more versatile and would not preclude the future arrival of Gagliardini.

  • ho Hi

    Serie A

    atalanta bologna cagliari_calcio2 Chievo Verona HNu3sXC Empoli fiorentina Genoa Internazionale Juventus-icon lazio AC-Milan-icon Napoli palermo pescara calcio AS Roma Sampdoria Sassuolo Torino-icon Udinese

    IFD
    An Honest Look At Juventus And The Future
    GETTY IMAGES

    This summer was one of upheaval in Turin as Juventus took to the transfer window to retool their title-winning outfit with a number of signings. With Paul Pogba leaving to Manchester United for a record transfer fee, there was a gaping hole left to be plugged in the midfield. In came Gonzalo Higuain for €90M from Napoli as did Miralem Pjanic from Roma. Add Dani Alves, Mehdi Benatia and Marko Pjaca and you’ve got yourself one hell of a summer transfer window. Well, not quite.

    Despite a plethora of quality signings, Juventus are yet to fully gel and have some glaring issues in the middle of the park. Most notably, there is a clear lack of a physical presence, especially without Arturo Vidal or Paul Pogba dictating the tempo there. While Miralem Pjanic’s six goals and six assists in all competitions are impressive on paper, the Bosnian international is not influencing games as much as he should. In a majority of the bianconeri’s big games, Pjanic has gone missing, which is something that has plagued him since his Roma days. It’s also important to note that his goals have come against Sassuolo, Dinamo Zagreb, Torino, Chievo, Genoa and Sampdoria. Outside of his strike in the Derby delle Mole, Pjanic hasn’t exactly delivered when needed and has scored on Italy’s mid-table sides. Let’s face it, that’s not what he was brought in to do.

    Sami Khedira is another player who’s had a solid but unspectacular year. After having a phenomenal debut season, the German international has gone quiet. Like Pjanic, Khedira has been invisible at times in the bigger games and leaves Claudio Marchisio with an enormous task. Without Pogba, the 29-year-old was expected to pick up the physical mantle but it hasn’t happened. Juventus have struggled partly due to this. Then, of course, Juventus have Kwadwo Asamoah, Mario Lemina, Hernanes and Stefano Sturaro to round off their midfield ranks. While each of them excel at different things, none of them cut it at the highest level.

    Juventus’ midfielder Miralem Pjanic of Bosnia-Erzegovina (L) celebrates with Juventus’ midfielder Sami Khedira from Germany after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Torino Vs Juventus on December 11, 2016 at the ‘Grande Torino Stadium’ in Turin. MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images

    As a result, when looking at Juventus’ midfield options and their Champions League aspirations, I’m left perplexed. Not even the most optimistic fan can say with confidence that this side is among the contenders for the Champions League. While their defence is more or less the same and the attack is improved with Higuain, the midfield is far too passive to compete against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. At the very least Juventus have recognized this and are trying to address it immediately. However, it might be too late for this season.

    In order to compensate for the lack of a physical midfielder, the Italian champions went out and bought Tomas Rincon from Genoa. The Venezuelan international has an incredible engine and will somewhat make up for the Pogba/Vidal-sized hole in the midfield. However, the reality is that Rincon won’t push Juventus over their Champions League hump and will only serve as an efficient player. Again, the bianconeri have realized this and are pushing on for another midfielder. With Axel Witsel opting for Chinese money over Juventus, it now leaves Allegri’s men in an awkward situation. Do they shift their attention to someone else or do they stay put?

    In my opinion, even with Rincon, this Juventus side are one world class midfielder away from contending for Europe’s highest honour. Let’s be clear here, I’m not talking about a Witsel level player. For Juventus to join Europe’s big three, they need a player in the realm of Marco Verratti or similar. Despite the fact that many believe it’s Champions League or bust for Juventus this season, they would be foolish to act with the mentality on the transfer window in January as it would harm the side down the line.

    Italian striker Mario Balotelli (R) celebrates with midfielder Marco Verratti after scoring against England during their Group D football match at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus, Brazil, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014. RAPHAEL ALVES/AFP/Getty Images

    It is rare that truly world class players are available and not cup-tied in January therefore what is the point of rushing the process. In my opinion, whether fans like it or not, the wise thing to do for Marotta and Paratici would be to act with caution. Unless a Verratti type player is available in January, which is incredibly unlikely, Juventus’ winter mercato should begin and end with Atalanta’s Mattia Caldara and Genoa’s Tomas Rincon. There is quite literally no point in adding midfielders who will incrementally improve Juventus. The N’Zonzi’s of the world will not bring the holy grail that is the Champions League to Turin. Come summer time, the Italian giants will be stuck with these middling players on their books and nowhere near Champions League contention.

    This conundrum falls squarely on the shoulders of Marotta and Paratici, who failed to replace their departed midfield stars over the years. While they get plenty of praise for their fantastic work on the transfer window, as they should, it is now time for them to assume responsibility for last summer’s botched mercato. Should they have patience, they will have wiggle room to rejuvenate the midfield and potentially add a player to replace Vidal or Pogba this summer.
    While most Juventini won’t be too happy to hear this, this season won’t be the one they break their 20-year drought in the Champions League. Considering where Italian football is currently at, they should comfortably win the league for the sixth consecutive season. But that’s not why they activated Higuain’s and Pjanic’s release clauses, was it? In Europe, on the other hand, they still have ways to go. With a lot of luck in the draw, they could find themselves in the semi-finals, however, I think it’s unlikely. Given how they acted on the transfer window this past summer, this realization, as a Juventino myself, is a grossly disappointing one. My advice to them? Stay as you are.

  • ho Hi

    Just read that. Such bullshit.

  • E.Micallef

    Im already getting sick of this mercato. Hearing the dybala and madrid links. Players going noodles. Football is in a state of major change. I dont know the intention of the club but if we continue to sell our best we will struggle to re built everytime.

    • Dar Black

      Football in the 1st stages of meltdown into oblivion possibly from sickness over money. The football world thinks it is immune, too big and popular to fall. They are wrong, Serie A decline proves that things change, but for a total sport to fall foul they only need to look to the USA and major league baseball and hockey’s decline. The former was known as ‘The Show’. They both lost out to basketball and NFL.

      • E.Micallef

        I mean i you tubed the chinese superleague. You remember a centre foward i think played for Porto Jackson Martinez. Lots of clubs were on him did not hear anything on him in years. He is playing there. The level is so poor the stadiums dull a european footballer i mean experiencing the champions league. Also the dybala issue is a major headache. I maybe read too much news especially italian sites. They are making me sick. Hope the salary given to the no 9 does not backfire now.

        • I wouldn’t be too bothered about Dybala. He is signed up until 2020, and we have barely started 2017. I know little of his agent, but to add an extra year to his contract and bump his pay up to 5m per season seems a reaction to outside interest more than his scintillating form. He has been decent but injured for a while and nowhere near as potent in front of goal as last term (due to his new role deeper). Other clubs sniff an opening, we respond by showing we value him and are tying down our key youth talents Sturaro, RUgani etc and see him as part of our long term future…If 5m per season is not enough, at this stage of his career, and to agitate for a move soon or in the Summer, solely due to an agent in his ear telling him they both deserve more money, then…fuck them both. Let them go…And worry not.

          I am not particularly worried by the emergence of the Chinese bottomless pockets…for the following reasons –

          .1 Its china. Who wants to live in China when they can live in Turin or Milan or London or Paris?

          2. the football is dire, the stadiums wretched, the language barrier leads to loneliness, its enough to end the sporting career of any footballer. After 2+ years in China, playing at a terribly low standard, players will begin to lose their place in their national squad, and they will find it much harder to return to the top leagues after as they will be soiled goods, players who have given up on sporting ambition.

          3. there are a handful of clubs who are running intentionally at a major loss to attempt to raise the profile, more than the standard, of the chinese league. There are limited playing spots and limited foreigners, The spending bubble will burst at some stage and when players can ear, at juve for example, 5-7m per year there comes a point where to earn double that to play in China is not worth the loss of connection with what will always be, as in Europe, the pinnacle of world football, the loss of any possibility for competing for top honours…China is never going to usurp the champions league or the premier league or serie A etc etct…they can throw as much money as they like at the thing, it will never happen.

          4. essentially, this is a fad as far as I can tell…limited capacity for Chinese clubs forced to pay insanely over the odds fees to persuade decent players to play in shit league, with shit infrastructure, no cultural connection to their own blood, and forsake any true chance of sporting glory.

          • E.Micallef

            I agree with you 100 percent on what said.However the timing of this chinese cuisine is not right. We already lost two solid players in Pogba and Vidal to richer euro teams. If we add the real barca it will be impossible to keep real young talents within our ranks. They are stronger financially or so it seems. When we sold Zidane it was a diffirent story.Now to be sincere for the first time in the last 6 years we are struggling to find replacements.

          • Xx RForcE xX

            The answer is – give them the money, 2-3 m more a year will not kill us, it is sad but it’s todays reality.

          • Dar Black

            It would hurt us though. At the 400 mil euro revenue level we are already paying better average wages than we probably should be, surprisingly eclipsing the average wages that Arsenal and Liverpool pay for example – even though they have larger revenue per year (source 2016 Global Sports Saleries Survey – google to download pdf). In fact we are only couple hundred grand average less than Munich.

            We could only realistically pay the top stars more if we either got more income or reduced the squad player wages to free up more for the star names. That won’t go down well for team spirit or morale though.

          • Pogba has one of the most wretched agents in the game and the lure of english culture, the glamour and party life and showbiz proved too much for his young mind to resist, as well as the millions in gold…Vidal was a little different, he was not poached by mega money, but by a new challenge and he had given so much for Juve. Very different cases. Losing Tevez and Pirlo have augmented the midfield issues which we now suffer from, yet the club are working well to remedy.

            Barca and Real and other clubs only have so many places. They cannot buy every player and I am less concerned by some of our apparent move to become a stepping stone for players, when we used to be seen as the pinnacle. We are not far off the pinnacle, other than in terms of mega money, yet we still pay our players handsomely and they become part of a long standing tradition. I prefer to retain belief that players see our colours, prestige and storied history as much as or more than solely the financial benefits…those seeking solely the latter can go elsewhere. I am confident the club will continue to recruit the right kind of players…

            Higuain could have earned more elsewhere. No doubt whatsoever, but he joined us. Sandro could have gone elsewhere and earned more money. Same for Pjanic no doubt. And certainly for Pjaca. So..players are still able to see Juve as more than simply a chance to earn as much money as possible. Only when this starts to vanish will I begin to lose my love for the game…

  • I wrote a rather long post about the parallels between the death of music because of those awful talent shows and how in the footballing world, something similar is happening….but i deleted it because it was overly -long, contrived and no one wants to hear me spout off about money in football.
    All i’ll say is that I have made 2 significant career choices – the first was for a higher salary and it ended badly. The second was the polar opposite – I was offered more money to leave a workplace that had showed faith and trust in me. A place where i was respected, valued and thanked every day. Needless to say, i turned down the change to leave.
    I’m not pious, holier than thou, a better human being or in any position to judge the life choices of others….however, I think the writing was on the wall with Axel Witsel. yes, we messed up by not signing him in the summer, but when the Chinese come calling, they do so offering such ridiculous wealth that the player would be ‘crazy to turn it down’ – Or so i keep getting told. It’s crazy to turn down 18m to earn 5m. It’s crazy to turn down paper with peoples faces imprinted on it for the chance to be a part of history. It’s crazy Rav. Money. Money. Money. Thats all that matters after all, isn;t it? Thats why we’re here? to earn? to spend? to flaunt our wealth? This is the norm – To talk about millions. MILLIONS, as if it were nothing. It’s only 5m that Juve were offering him. ONLY 5M. A. year. Chase the money. Secure your families future and when you’re 75, you can look back and smile as you remember the time that you nutmegged Li Xuepeng in the Shanghai derby. That Xuepeng. I always hated him.

    My sincere hope is that they keep on offering these kinds of salaries and more and more young player head out there. i hope the Chinese league booms and the likes of Messi and Ronaldo end up out there in their twilight years. I hope Sky start broadcasting the games and we all wake up at some ungodly hour to watch the outcome of Shanghai Shenhua v Jiangsu Suning….or better yet, Liaoning Whowin v Beijing Guoan. Both important and seminal matches in the Chinese super-league.
    I hope more and more people defend the decision of players to go and earn quadruple salaries in China and remind me that it would be stupid to turn such money down. I hope it grows and grows and grows. Forza China. Forza Witsel. Forza great career choices made in the name of your family. Forza money. Forza mediocrity. For$a not having an opinion.

    • I always enjoy you cutting loose, to use, with a cringe, a yankee saying, my friend…You may be more emotive than even yours truly and always unruly. Which is startling, yet a smile becomes me, for you are one of my tribe…a tribe from which I have long been absent, yet their echoes reverberate in my crimson rivers, their zeal, the thunder of their spirit, remains thankfully registering, reminding me where I come from, who and what I am…England has what so many other realms lack, especiallu here, namely a heartbeat, a pulse, a soul. Be thankful that this I find in your virtual roar, unwittingly expressed on your part, just plain real…

      My thoughts on Mr Shchnitzel are found below…I care little for such matters. Ib fact the first valuable reaction to such a thing I have come cross is the fang of your ranting. Which makes me smile and send birthday love to a rugged brother from the motherland, and listen to leafdog…

      This is why I keep coming back to this virtual outpost of lost souls colliding on the shared cause of Black and White…for whatever reasons, we are attracting wicked folk, some fluff, some mong, but the general core are vibrant, aware, top drawer folk. SO be proud, Rav, for conjuring this hub of humanity. And accept my gratitude for accommodating my own peculiar lunacy.

      Mega Gems in Rough,,,
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkfpGKNjPzg

      • ….when i was younger, i was told by one friend to support United, another would say Liverpool, my uncle took me to home games in Reading…..and yet nothing appealed to me. I stuck to international tournaments and watched the superstars combine for their nations to dazzling effect.
        Mid-90s, i head to my friends house and we watch this new coverage of the Italian league……it was green…..so lush and green, there were hazy sunsets behind the stadiums, there were players with names i couldn’t pronounce doing things i couldn;t explain – A guy with a ponytail was moving his feet faster than i could think and he was a wizard, not a magician…..there was no magic trick, no answer, no reveal…..he was actually doing impossible things that couldn;t be explained…..how did he do that ? Defenders that were big and burly, slow, methodical, thoughtful, graceful even….they moved as one…..im absolute and utter harmony…..graceful as ballerinas……and there was this team in stripes….black and white….they played with character…..there was a french guy, he looked like a monk and he spun around players like they weren;t there…..there was a group of men at the back….jesus, they looked like those guys you see at the pub who have been together for years and know each other like they know their own families…..barking at one another…..speaking some secret language that wasn;t Italian……and there was a kid, God!, the kid ! He would dribble to the opponents box and let the defenders catch up…..then he’s produce some touch,,,,,a shimmy left, right…..and the curl ! madonna! the curl, he bent it round them all…..and the manager……he smoked cigars….it was like a defiant fuck you…..but he was coolness personified, calm, still, steady…..and he looked confident, never flustered……and i knew, i just knew in a heartbeat, this was it, this was my team – these were the colours i wanted. this is what i had been looking for. The curva, the tifo….the rivalries……the colours, such a wonderful blend of colours unlike any i had ever seen before.

        People wonder why I feel so vehemently about the money in the Chinese league, the premier league….its because when i remember what i fell in love with, what bought real football into my life, i;m reminded how little of it still exists. Now It’s just numbers. figures on a page. statistics. pound signs. dollar signs. the true value, that intangible….everything these has been quantified, assigned a figure, a number, filed and stored, and i am sadder for it.

        • Dar Black

          Channel 4 Football Italia? That was my way in to. Something mesmerising about the black and white stripes, the Kappa ‘Danone’ shirts and Baggio et al. The stadiums were works of art too. I suppose the success of Serie A at the time and the money from the personal wealth of the Agnelli’s and Berlusconi and Morrati at Inter was the era equivalent of EPL / Chinese money, but on a less obvious / obnoxious scale. The years roll by inflating everything.

          • Absolutely amico! it was a different time and the quality of the footballers (and their characters) was of a higher standard than today.

            Witsel chose money when he joined Zenit – I simply hoped that playing in a league (no disrespect) that had very little appeal beyond the financial, had made him see that there was more to football than just dollar signs. Apparently not. It’s a job for some and i can understand why he chose China, but i can never agree with it. It’s a tragic state of affairs for the beautiful game.
            Ferrara, Montero, Rui Costa, Batistuta, Di Livio, Del Piero, Sheva even Totti, baggio, Zidane at Juve….I’ll always happily recall these players as part of the glory years of football. Nothing else comes close.

      • VonKellef

        Great song! I for one would be delighted if you shared more music of this caliber.

        • Mr Von Kellef…I regularly embark on a twisted mix between musical offerings and social reportage, which cane be found here>>>
          http://thedissolutefox.com/category/essays-and-other-musings-of-a-madman/

          Its the Gems in the Mega Rough series which might appeal…Hope you enjoy!

          Cheers, TGP

          • Dar Black

            Aha! So that is your hideout! I shall take a look further over the weeks. I find myself increasingly intrigued by Peter Hitchens views and perhaps worringly David Icke, who would find a much bigger audience if he would only drop the reptile / lizard masterace crazy thing… Otherwise some of his thoughts are actually quite interesting and coherent.

          • Indeed, DB…most of my non juve scribbles are to be found over there. Global affairs in The War Desk with more personal matters and mutterings in Musings of a Dissolute Fox…I have lost passion for the news reportage, yet continue to grit my fangs and spout sporadic analyses, which do my heart and soul injury yet…I feel that any effort to fight the good fight is better than nothing. Also began a new novel whilst in New Zealand recently, and have been successful in my attempt to take a year working part time in the local council here in Melbourne (with the buskers!) to afford me two days per week to focus more seriously on my literary ambitions…Finish the barbed, beastly yet readable novella I conjured last year, work on the new tome also on some other matters and spread my words far and wide…

            I was no fan of Christopher, especially after he morphed into a war mongering prick after 9/11. He was a pompous toad, yet immensely intelligent. His brother however, Peter, is more easily likeable, equally well informed, less of a trail blazer yet calm, considered and other than his relgious views i admire his intelligence and logical approach too journalism and commentary.

            Icke has a fair amount of logical bluster, take away the lunacy and he seems more sane than most…I also follow Douglas Murray often, another extremely wily operator, different stances to my own presented by the smartest gay in England, yet I admire his sophistry, unwillingness to cow to any other and knowledge of the world and its machinations. Can’t help but find some twisted pride in the smug gentry stock, despite my very much working class background and nature. Yet further afield can be found my main sources of reverence…Ken O Keefe is always entertaining and an odd character. Moving into somewhat darker realms…Vlad Surkov is one of the most intriguing characters unearthed through my delving into Russian power over the last year or three. Lavrov looks like a land shark and always impresses…Shoygu, Gryzlov…they are all hyper capable operators, yet it is Surkov who brings me the biggest smile…Dugin is rather startling and nowhere near the Putin puppet the West make him out to be. Yet the same can be said of all those I mentioned. You don’t paint the people you want to be hated as interesting, decent, capable people…that is not the agenda of the MSM or their owners…

            Well that was more useful to my day than the box of files next to me quietly, patiently, awaiting the hand held scanner and I shall now peek for the latest Surkov gem whilst paying my dues to the corporate machine.

            I will be interested of any constructive criticism or feedback, my friend…so kindly delve into the TDF den of iniquity…

  • It seems Gagliardini is off to Inter. Never ceases to amaze me that the players we are closely interested in often end up there – Also surprising how many of them flop there until they finally leave to join bigger and better clubs.

    I hear Luis Gustavo is the next target……i despise this time of year

    • E.Micallef

      It seems we are on a witch hunt yet again. :). If i may say dont give the kid to pescara. Let him roar within our ranks and give him playing time when he is ok. We better start to think of June when we’ll have to face yet again the khedira china offer and the dybala saga. Btw fantastic reading below.

    • Gerald Quinn

      i hope not! i rather have N’Zonzi or Tolisso, hopefully we can also sign Alexis Sanches, if we can get Sanches, along with 1 of probably N’zonzi or Tolisso, coupled with our current squad, we really would be the new Barcelona, if not even have a better team! NO MORE EXCUSES for ALLERGI….oh and MERET!!!! We need Buffon’s successor NOW!!

  • 2017 is here, and with it, the best Juve-related picture i’ve seen in some time…..

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37e7cd4af96e4b7328961b6f8792b9bec2c1631c3c9bebacabc610bda32733f8.jpg

    • El General could prove a perfect mentor for a comparably aggressive hustler…

    • VonKellef

      As mentioned in the text above. Only a glance from Rincon is enough to make the opponents shit their pants. Hope he brings muscle to the midfield in a smart way, and not in a Felipe Melo fashion. With the red card flashing a little bit too much.

      • Gerald Quinn

        yea to bad he cant play on the pitch dressed like that, looks like an NYC thug

  • Mame Thiam and Alberto Cerri are likely to join Mandragora on loan at Pescara…Although they are sitting rock bottom, we can hope that all three will be given plenty of opportunity to impress as they desperately need a change in fortunes to have any hope of staying up…It is anyone’s guess as to where Simone Zaza will end up. He was fairly poor at the Irons, yet the same can be said of most of their squad this term, other than Antonio. yet with the money at stake, Simone has proven an easy scapegoat, which now encourages me to seek their demise and suffering.

    Valencia were the most likely destination, but Prandelli has since flown the nest. A couple of Serie A sides appear interested…Namely Genoa and Fiorentina. Ac may also be interested, though their financial position is yet to be defined as the latest take-over from the Orient is set to drag on a while longer. With West Ham unwilling to trigger the 20m obligation to purchase by fielding him for a 14th time, both player/agent and the club appear certain to cut ties and with no room at Juve, Simone will be loaned out elsewhere.

    I just hope he finds a club where he can get back to playing regularly…No surprise to find his treatment at West Ham lacking class. Just look at their owners…

    • Dar Black

      He was a strange purchase by the Hammers, but he has been god awful in the few matches he had. An easy target for the press after that penalty miss, but hugely overpriced transfer for his abilities. Compared to our old boy’s Llorente and Pereyra he has been shown up in the EPL for his price on talent and work rate I think.

  • E.Micallef

    Today it is reported that Alvaro wants us back