Features, Player Features, Transfer Features

Blaise Matuidi – The missing piece…

August 18, 2017 - 10:00 am

A collective sigh of relief, strong enough to be felt from Turin to Paris, was exhaled yesterday when Blaise Matuidi underwent a medical with a view to a move to Juve.

Since the Champions League final, and if we’re being honest since Vidal left, it has been plainly obvious Juve needed a defensive midfielder, the Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Lazio last Sunday only served to emphasise this in the cruellest way possible with Sami Khedira in particular the target of some warranted, heavy criticism. We needed a midfielder to compliment Pjanic, who will disrupt the opposition midfield and link up with the defence.

My personal choice of regista was Verratti; dynamic, creative and technical qualities to burn (also a Football Manager man-crush of mine!). However this move never seemed to gain any momentum and we were also linked with Emre Can, Nemanja Matic and Steven N’Zonzi. Depending on where you get your transfer rumours from, one or all of these were either nailed on, done deals or about as likely as Messi playing for Real Madrid. However the Matuidi rumour has been around for weeks, if not months, and has been greeted with derision by most Juventini. Why? He can defend, can hold the ball up, tackle, has good mental abilities. Everything we need. Remember the aforementioned Vidal? He had all of these qualities.

So why the negativity? In my mind it is the era of FIFA console games, having the team’s third kit with your name on the back and all that ‘modern football’ nonsense. If it’s not sexy and doesn’t sell shirts in the far east then it’s obviously a bad move. Well no, it isn’t, scratch beneath the surface; Matuidi made 40 starts for club and country last year averaging a healthy 7/10 per game (according to whoscored.com) in one of Europe’s top leagues, and remember we’re including playing for one of the best international teams on the planet too. Not bad for someone who is considered too old and lacking the ability to consistently run a midfield by most people who are able to type a comment on the subject.

He is no Verratti but he is exactly what Juve need and isn’t that the most important reason for signing him? A midfielder who is defensively minded, technically sound, a tough tackler and an established first team player at one of Europe’s top clubs.

From Allegri’s point of view the move must have been close for a while and I mentioned in my last post that after letting Lemina and Rincon go we must have a replacement lined up, so it has been proved. A ying to Pjanic’s yang, a player who can do the leg work in midfield while Pjanic and co link the midfield and attack.


He won’t create the furore which Bernardeschi’s signing caused, he won’t add a few million Twitter followers to the club’s account, but he’ll run through walls, cover the entirety of the pitch and still come away with ball. More Deschamps than Zidane, but he’s the missing piece of the puzzle.

Bienvenue, Blaise.

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  • Avatar
    Moderator August 18, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Great summary and great to have you on board Dave ! i was against his transfer, but i suspect my concerns were more related to his age, the timing of the transfer and only a limited knowledge of his characteristics. I’m not as interested in a goalscoring midfield machine as someone that has the ability to the simple things – Tackle and pass. Keep us moving foward and give Pjanic the protection he needs.
    Reading your words has given me some optimism – He starts with a clean slate and my full support.

    • Avatar
      VonKellef August 18, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      I shared your pessimism at first, but this transfer has grown on me. I truly hope that Matuidi will end up being a really good signing, one that fits perfect in that DM spot. If he is able to link up the play, tackle and shield Pjanic, then we have a really good pair in Pjanic and Matuidi. Given that Allegri keeps the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is the only formation that makes sense to me, evaluating the current squad and the newly arrived. Why would we sign Costa and Bernardeschi if they were not meant to be in the starting eleven? The only way I see them and Dybala being fielded at the same time is if Dybala plays in the number 10 spot and Costa and Bernardeschi on the flanks. This would mean that we can only field 2 CM. The Pjanic and Khedira combo, well let’s just hope we don’t have to witness that anymore. Seems like a lot of players that are fighting for those two particular spots, which is good. Without competition there could be no development of play and players, and it’s better for Allegri to have a luxury problem than finding himself without options. If we don’t offload anyone within 15 days or so, then management will surely have to sell someone in the winter mercato.

  • thegutterpoet
    thegutterpoet August 18, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Greetings Dave! Great to see your words appearing in the community. A warm welcome to the fold…

    I probably would have preferred Nzonzi, for I see Matuidi as more of a box to box midfielder, as you mentioned – in the Vidal mould, and I have felt what was most needed last season and now is a more physically robust presence who is naturally anchored to the base of midfield. The Frenchman seems more expansive in his movement, which is fine and he comes with a great pedigree for club and country. There are two other factors to ponder…for me at least!

    Firstly the emerging talents of Bentancur and Mandragora – along with a certain tip for a future midfield berth in Caligara. Whilst Rolando is a perfect fit and could come to take the role next season or beyond, Rodrigo is more of a CML or CMR, very close to how we used Pogba in the past in the midfield trio. Yet unlike Pogba – who was oddly nowhere near as potent on the right as on the left – he is less physical, more cunning defensively and happy either side of the pitch.

    Secondly…Marchiso. He remains for me the most natural fit for the issue of seeking a steady fulcrum, an intelligent pivot, a player for the ball to flow through, to create, to screen. Maybe Matuidi is fine in such a role also…I haven’t seen enough of him to make that call. Yet my hope remains that it is Il principino who is worked into that role. He is the best fit in my eyes, can be the heartbeat of the team and seems finally back to full sharpness. So much depends on him, I believe and hope, this coming season.

    Ideally I would like to see how we fare with the two of them as the 2 in a 4-2-3-1. What that means for Pjanic and Khedira…is of less interest, presently.

    Thanks for your summary!

  • Avatar
    Dar Black August 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Welcome aboard sir….. I have no qualms with Blaise, it helps us to have an international class DM on board. But he would never have been my first choice if Matic was available.

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    VonKellef August 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Welcome sire. Nice piece of writing. Will surely be visiting bianconeri79.wordpress.com from here on out. I am sure that the future texts will be just as good as this one.

    • Avatar
      Dave Long August 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you, that’s much appreciated!

  • Avatar
    Dave Long August 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for the warm welcome, chaps. I’m pleased my article was well received.
    In regards to Matuidi his age doesn’t bother me as it seems as though Bentancur is primed to take over once Matuidi and Marchisio are finished. The fact Bentancur wasn’t loaned out this season and is taking one of the non-EU player slots is a huge indication that he’ll be very much a part of the first team this season. I’m looking forward to seeing him play. We seem a lot more balanced in midfield than we did this time last week and I’m more confident of our Champions League chances now the DM issue has been sorted.

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    Mikkel Andersen August 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Agree. Good for two years.