Youth Team

Juventus Youth Sector Health Check – Are we failing or succeeding or somewhere in between?

December 1, 2015 - 4:26 pm

Whilst Mandzukic was volleying home the winner against Manchester City and signs of life were appearing all over our senior squad offering, the little ones were striving in tandem, in a parallel realm…

For those of you unaware, the UEFA Youth League is an U19 tournament which mirrors the champions league group stage. It has been in existence for several years, through all of which, we have competed and faltered. This campaign appeared to be heading along comparably bothersome lines, until last wednesday, when we faced off against the Man City U19s and emerged victorious. With Monchengladbach finding the equaliser in Germany against Seville, the results offered a reprieve. A chance now to head to Spain for our last group fixture and find qualification to the knock-out stage with a win.

Its unlikely, given our form, yet form is an odd thing for the youth sides. Where on any given day, anything can happen. With the kids still learning their skills and duties and movement, it seems that mentality plays the major role in terms of results, alongside the amount of physically monstrous teenagers we can deploy.

Del Favero

Lirola Romagna Parodi Coccolo Zappa

Toure Kastanos Macek

Vadala King

Our first goal came from Kastanos, after seeming dead on the turf, the Cypriot attacking midfielder rose from the ashes of his apparent demise to receive the ball in the 18 yard box, side step a couple of challenges and despatch a left footed drive into the corner of the goal for 1-0.

Our second came again from the left boot of Kastanos, this time a wonderfully executed strike from the edge of the box leaving the keeper no chance.

Who is this plucky Kastanos character eh?

kastanos, juventus, U19

“I am doubly happy, because the last game I was expelled. Now we will do everything to win in Seville. ”

Of his goals: “The first goal was not even very coordinated, but the important thing was seeing the ball past the goalkeeper. The second was a more powerful shot, I’m really pleased. ” spoke the 17 year old Cypriot who made his debut this year for the senior international side and has since settled in the U21s. Which is an astounding achievement at his age. 

We picked up Grigoris aged 15 from Cyprus side Enosis in 2013. Widely regarded as a prodigy of sorts, some calling him the finest player to ever emerge from the island nation. Arsenal, Man City and Udinese were sniffing around but Beppe and his hatchet man Paratici swooped and clawed him into our clutches for a reported fee of around EU100,000. Capable of playing as a striker or winger, great with both feet, Kastanos came to prominence with a wonderful free kick for the Cyprus U16s earning their first ever victory over the Germans.

A major part of the solid campaign of our U17 side last term, Grigoris has continued to blossom after moving up to the U19s. With 12 appearances and 4 goals to his name to date, it seems likely that Grosso will be depending on the youngster to maintain his sparkling form and drive the primavera onwards on all fronts.

In other news…

The U19s continued their fine form by beating Novara 2-4 away from home over the weekend. The goals coming from Cassatta, Favalli (2) and the King late on. The result sees us move to second spot in the table, behind leaders Virtus Entella who sit a solitary point ahead.

How successful is our present scouting system for the youth set-up?

I often find myself in difficulties when trying to answer this question. Obviously the results of our primavera are the main measure, yet at youth level we have to understand that development is more important than results and the two are sometimes not running side by side. And so after results, in the UEFA youth league and beyond, I turn to the next measure on the list, which is selection for country at youth level.

So which of our starlets presently represent their country…?

Filippo Romagna, Juventus, Italy

Filippo Romagna is one of many of our youth internationals tipped for stardom.

Emilio Audero GK – 18 – Italy U16,U17, and now U19 regular.

Leonardo Vitali GK – 17 – Italy U18.

Mattia Del Favero GK – 17 – Italy U18

Fillippo Romagna CB – 18Italy U15, U16, U17, U18, U19 regular.

Allessandro Vogliacco CB – 17Italy U15, U16, U17, U18

Luca Coccolo LB/CB – 17Italy U17, U18

Simone Muratore CM/RM – 17Italy U16, U17, U18

Roman Macek CM – 18Czech U16, U17, U18


Grigoris Kastanos AM – 17Cyprus U16, U17, U21, Senior Squad 

Francesco Cassatta RW – 18Italy U17, U18, U19

Andrea Favalli CF – 18Italy U18, U19

12 internationals from our squad of 28 with many others with youth caps for their respective countries, yet presently out of international selection. There are others to mention, such as Berardi and Cerri and Tello, yet this focus in blinkered towards the primavera. And so for the sake of a linear discussion I will avoid those plying their trade away from Vinovo.

Clearly we are scouting well enough. As is confirmed by the regular selection of many of our first team players in the primavera, for their country. Which leads me to question the coaching set-up when pondering why so little success has been found in recent years in terms of development from youth to senior level.

marchisio, juventus, serie a, italy

Il Principino. Juve through and through since his childhood. Yet where are the others?

I cannot think of one player coming through the ranks since Marchisio and Giovinco. Yet the same can be said of before those two stamped their presence on the big mans game, for the Juve I have known for many moons does not appear to have a history of developing youngsters for the senior team.

The conclusion is that the youth sector is far more focused on business than as a womb from which future stars of the seniors emerge to take their first earthly breath. We have the allure and spending power to mop up decent young talent, then the contacts to move them on for a profit. And perhaps most useful is when these players become solid enough to be used as a makeweight in deals with smaller clubs for their best players. For example I was mightily impressed with Goldaniga in the Palermo match, whom we held a stake in until using that stake to sweeten the Dybala deal.

Moderate success stories are apparent.

frederick sorensen, juventus, cologne

Sorensen showed great promise in our colours. Ice Man by name, Ice Man by nature.

Freddy Sorensen was signed from Danish side Lyngby for 500k as an 18 year old. I recall those days with Del Neri in charge, haphazard for the most but he did have the confidence to give Freddy a run in the first team and I found him superb. A natural born stopper. Who fared very well against vastly more experienced opponents in Serie A. He then moved to Bologna in a co-ownership deal which brought us 1.25m. After his side were relegated we re-signed him outright for 800k. Loaned to Verona for 300k then finally, last summer we sold him outright to FC Cologne of the Bundesliga for 2m. 1.3m spent, 3.55m received. A healthy profit of 2.25m.

A similar story is found with Albin Ekdal. Picked up from Swedish minnows Brommapojkarna for 600k in 2008 the midfielder managed just three games for Juve before heading off to Siena on a free loan. Where he became a first team regular and the linchpin of a side that battled bravely against relegation, yet went down. Back to Juve then shipped out to Bologna for 2.5m in a co-ownership deal. Where again he fared well. The two clubs couldn’t agree on a price to end the co-ownership and so a blind auction was held and we won, at the price of 1.3m. Off next to Cagliari and through a co-ownership and then total sale, we made 3m. His latest move was for 4m to Hamburg. Ekdal has become through the course of his career a regular feature of the Swedish national side. Calculations here a little vague due to the Cagliari move. At best we paid out 1.9m and recouped 4.25m. Net profit of 2.35m.

And for those, like me, who are peeking sporadically and with a shake of the head at Kingsley Coman. To soften the blow, we signed him for 0 and the loan fee alone for his stint at Bayern Munich brought in 7m. If they wish to sign him outright, which looks likely given his fine form in Germany, we will net a further 21m. He wanted to move, and why stand in his way? A 28m profit softens the blow of losing a player who seems destined for greatness, yet only if we invest that money wisely enough to maintain our own return to the upper echelons of continental football.

And its this last point which is of the utmost importance. For you can look at the Coman move from two very different stances. Firstly, if an elite club is willing to take a risk of sorts at a high price on a youngster, surely we should be keeping him and developing him ourselves. Yet on the other hand, his potential fee wipes off a large amount of the gold we paid for Dybala who could well develop into a even more dazzling world star.

Speculate to accumulate is our motto, though it seems clear to me that we are making the most of our position and resources, not in the slightest focused heavily on balancing the books. Rather, we are aiming to improve financial matters in a period where we have invested hugely whilst still pouring major resources into improving and developing the squad and club structure with an aim of remaining a domestic force of dominance and consistently achieving a solid status on the european front.

I would very much like to believe that in a few years we will see Leali between the sticks for both club and country, Rugani mirroring the achievement in defence, Pozzebon, Kastanos and Vadala in and around our first team. The first names mentioned seem likely to follow that path, the youngsters…more than likely will go the way of Ekdal and Sorensen.

What is of most importance to note is that our scouting network seems moderately far reaching and potent. We are signing players of potential and we do seem to be making a steady, healthy profit on our investments. In order to further the development of those starlets we pick up so very young, we need to bring in a more experienced and wily head coach than Fabio Grosso. Other than which, I cannot see us making any moves to improve the chances of reaching that beautiful scene of the boys from Barca, many of whom had grown together at La Masia and moved side by side from youth to senior squad. This happens very rarely indeed. Only the Barca side and the Fergie’s fledglings at Man U seem to prove this is possible in the modern era.

Until such fine fortune becomes us, I am content with our present youth policy. Other than Grosso. Though there is far more to our youth sector than merely the world cup winner picking the side for the primavera. I will save such investigation for my next report.

We have the finest young defender of a generation in Rugani, chomping at the bit for a chance to make his mark in our senior squad. Nicola Leali is an extremely promising goalkeeper for whom it makes little sense to presently be anywhere but playing regularly in the top flight. Romagna also appears destined for greatness. Berardi is surely an incredible talent who WILL move to Juve next summer. Our senior squad is brimming with youthful exuberance.

Pogba, 22.

Sandro, 24.

Dybala, 22.

Pererya, 24.

Sturaro, 22.

Lemina, 22.

Rugani, 21.

Zaza, 24.

(And within our reach when and when we want them Berardi, 21 and Leali, 22)

It could be worse…

Essentially, the future of the youth sector appears neither blindingly bright nor dark and dank. It works well enough, from a financial perspective and I continue to find boyish excitement in the moves we make. Such as…

The above post originally appeared here

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  • Avatar
    DutchJuventus December 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Using the Coman money for Dybala was a great deal tbh from our perspective. Coman wasn’t very impressive when playing for us, nothing of the Coman we see now at Bayern, maybe we used him wrong, but Dybala has been impressive from the start of his Juve carreer. So getting rid of a ”useless” player to sign a player that has been doing really good and might become one of the better players in the world is definitely a good deal.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 2, 2015 at 8:55 am

      I doubt that the 21m has been factored into our accounting for this financial year, DJ. Yet you see what I was saying. Most transfers come in instalments, the cost is spread over years, its a lot more complicated an affair than I used to believe!

      Who can say what else we will have spent by the time Coman’s transfer comes into play? We are surely set to spend 25m on Berardi next Summer. Pogba may move on for anything between 60-100m. We may be considering a Buffon successor, although its tricky given his importance to the club. He will play until he retires, I assume. And what of Morata? This will he, won’t he routine doesn’t suit our long term planning. I suspect it will be resolved next Summer.

      Most importantly, we are focusing hugely on refreshing the squad with young talent. Perhaps we lost out on a great star of the future in Coman, but for 28m, the loss is not quite so bad! Not like United’s loss on Pogba, for example.

      • Avatar
        DutchJuventus December 2, 2015 at 5:22 pm

        I’m very bad at financial stuff so excuse me for not fully understanding, but if the Coman money comes in later, we will have that part of the Dybala transfer back anyway, so in that way it would be sort of paid with the Coman money. Not that i meant it that way.

        Buffon will play for as long as he can handle this level of football. Del Piero was as important to the club as Buffon is and he was sold because he couldn’t keep it up anymore, despite some good moves every now and then still. Buffon is still performing almost at his best. His reflexes are still amazing, sure you can see the age kicking in, but i’d still rate him as one of the best goalie’s in the world. I think Juve would do the same to him as they did to Del Piero if that wasn’t the case. And i think Buffon wouldn’t be 100% opposed to it either.

        I still don’t understand what exactly Bayern saw in Coman to pay this much money for him. He made several mistakes, dumb mistakes sometimes, due to his young age probably, when he played in our first team. It was a huge gamble on their part and i can totally understand why Juve took that much money for him. The way it looked he could either flop completely or be a superstar. Can’t take that risk when 28 million is offered. Add to that, he wanted to leave. Keeping a young unhappy player will increase the risk of him flopping.

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet December 3, 2015 at 10:06 am

          Agreed on Buffon. He remains sharp and world class. I hope he can play for another few seasons at the same level and am sure that when he feels that he is slipping, he will step down, and into another role at the club.

          Also I concur on Coman. He had a few chances, not many, but a few and impressed mainly for his pace and eagerness to attack players one on one. Other than which, he seemed to fail more than succeed. Yet that is to be expected with youngsters. Also, the agreed fee seemed huge, and whilst the kid Coman has been great so far for Bayern, I am unsure how he will fare when Robben and Ribery are both fully fit. Perhaps he will maintain and develop further into a world class winger? Regardless, we don’t play with wingers, or his wing forward position, other than how we have strangely shoe-horned Curadrado into the side. So when he hadn’t looked amazing, and Bayern offered us 28m. Why not eh? We had decided to invest in Dybala, heavily and through doing so, with Morata and Mandzukic also in the ranks, we were never going to play with anything less than two up top, which made keeping Coman, all potential, nothing more, seem silly, with the 28m offer on the table.

          Also, he wanted to move, to a powerhouse of european football, where he knew he would be given the chance to play in his natural role.

          He did not seem good enough to change the team to accommodate.

  • Avatar
    Joe Ventus December 2, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Nice read. I’d be interested in learning how much it costs to have/ house/ educate/ train a youth player each year. I feel like we’re missing a few elements when looking at our total spend v what money we ultimately get for a player

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 2, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Glad you enjoyed the piece, Joe. And yes of course that important factor came to me during the writing but its a very complicated realm to delve into. Training facilities, coaches, equipment, the juventus school, scouting, travel. I still think we run a profit on the youngsters. Though perhaps I am mistaken. The general conclusion I found is that the youth sector is a separate business, to some degree. The other area I wished to broach, but avoided, was the Udinese model. Some other community member commented on this very thing recently. The fact that their business model is far more connected between Seniors and Youth, with players pushed into the seniors, in a sink or swim routine, far more often, to showcase their skills and earn a faster profit through their sale. However, Udinese have different aims and expectations to us. They are not expected to win the league or even qualify for the champions league every season, which allows them to focus on different ambitions. So whilst their scouting network and ability to buy cheap and sell high appears more successful than our Juve routine, there are important mitigating factors to consider.

  • Avatar
    duder1897 December 2, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Getting €28m for Coman doesn’t do a thing for me. He was clearly our most talented player not named Pogba. Marotta will be remembered for this abysmal piece of business. Juventus will be the joke of the footballing world. It’s our biggest mercato mistake since Henry. Perhaps ever.

    And no, it doesn’t matter if he wanted to go. That’s Marotta’s mistake as well for hiring a retarded manager that doesn’t know how to play a system with proper wingers.

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 2, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Seems madly harsh, duder! I’d say that Marota, Marchisio, Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci, Buffon and Lichsteiner are all more established, talented players than Coman. Dybala seems to me to have a higher potential and higher value presently and in the future. So to change a system which has won four league titles on the trot, reached the champions league final, for the sake of implementing an 18 year old who had not really done much for us, who we signed for $0, seems lunacy.

      Bayern, whilst I only really watch them in the champions league, play with wide men up top. Ribery and Robben have been the mainstays. Their system, squad wide, was set up for a winger.

      I suspect its easier to look great as a winger in the Bayern side, who are hugely the strongest force in the bundesliga, than it is to prosper in a Juve side in a tactically very different Serie A.

      We were legitimately one of the finest sides in Europe last season. It was Marotta who signed Tevez, Llorente, Pogba, Vidal, Lichsteiner, Asamoah, Bonucci, Barzagli, Evra, Morata.

      It was also Marotta who brought in Dybala, Rugani, Leali and picked up our stake then option on Berardi.

      A retarded manager who took over a team which Conte left blustering foolishly of how the squad wasn’t good enough for Europe and could be taken no further than his own egomania could take them. Who then took us further…Quite successful for a retard eh?

      • Avatar
        duder1897 December 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

        We lucked out in Europe last season. We were horrible in the group stages. Then we met a Dortmund in total downfall, Monaco are crap and still almost knocked us out, and Real Madrid just couldn’t get things rolling. I wouldn’t measure our team on that run we had.

        Besides, we lost three of our five best players from that team. All of them irreplaceable leaders. We are far from what we were last season.

        And you wanna hear lunacy? Selling our best player over the last four years, along with our most promising talent, to Bayern..

        • thegutterpoet
          thegutterpoet December 3, 2015 at 2:25 am

          Indeed we are far from what we were last season. That is beyond discussion. I believe the club conducted themselves with respect and appreciation of the contribution given to our recent success in regards to Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez. They were impossible to replace like for like. Established world class talent costs more than we can afford to pay. Which is the moderately sad yet simple truth. Players like Aguero and David Silva did not head to Man City for anything but the gold nuggets and chance to play in the premiership perhaps.

          So the only way we could react to the departures was to try bring in some experienced, proven talent (Mandzukic) and some high potential youngsters (dybala, Lemina, Sandro).

          Maybe I should watch more of Bayern for if you truly believe that Coman is showing more quality than Morata, Pogba and Dybala, then…I will understand your point. Though disagree.

          And people do remember managers, as much as they remember players. At least in England, and in Italy and I assume in many other footballing nations.

          Allegri, for me, has already improved our fortunes in Europe over what Conte managed. Coman did not appear, in the games he played in our colours last season, anywhere close to the most talented player at the club.

          Also I believe it was a little more than mere luck which dragged us to the champions league final.

    • Avatar
      BelgianJuventino December 2, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Seems like you are overreacting a bit here dude. Marotta will be remembered for the great players he brought in, all of them cheap or for peanuts. Just think of Tevez, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Barzagli and so on. Selling them isn’t exactly his forte, that much is true. The sum for Coman is a fair one, though I also would have preferred to keep him here.

      I can easily think of far worse deals we’ve made, like 12mill on Martinez, 15-17 on Matri, 28 or something for Melo and so on, the likes of Amauri, Motta, Andrade, Krasic, Diego… who were all complete failtrains. And almost none of these was bought by Marotta/current management.

      Henry was shit at Juve, don’t know why, but he was. Same goes for Van Der Sar, a great goalkeeper at United but utter crap here at Juve.

      On Rugani, I hope he gets to play soon. Our current defenders are just considered far superior and maybe they are, but Rugani HAS to play some games imo. Like Coppa Italia games, games against promoted teams (Bologna, Carpi, Frosinone) and the general weak teams, like Verona teams in Serie A.

      He and other youngsters need to get more time on the pitch, but thats a whole other subject and Allegri’s responsibility, not Marotta’s

      • Avatar
        duder1897 December 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

        No one 20 years from now will remember it was Marotta that brought in Vidal or Pirlo. If things go as I think they might, they will remember it was him that let Coman go. Just as Alex Ferguson is being reminded about Pogba today. It’s like, even if your girlfriend is nice and all, the super hot one that got away will always be the one you remember. €28m is nothing. We waste that on mediocre talent every summer. Giving Bayern the option to sign him is just baffling.

        Signing a bust is one thing. That’s always going to be a lottery. Especially with the half ass transfers we have been doing the last 10 years. Buying quantity over quality is a complete idiot transfer policy.

        Henry was with us for half a year and played out of position. That’s less of a chance than we gave much less talented players. It was a mistake of epic proportions. He was one of the five best player in the world from 1999-2007. Just imagine those 2001-2006 teams with Henry.

        Rugani needs to play. Period. He should start at least 40% of the games (minus Europe, for now).

        • Avatar
          BelgianJuventino December 2, 2015 at 3:53 pm

          Nobody remembers managers anyway, if anything he will be remembed as the guy that managed juve into the historic 4 scudetti in a row.

          Henry was a bit before my time so I wont act like I know what happened then, but I read he wasnt good at all. If he would have been the Henry we know from Arsenal that would have been great for us.

          But on Rugani 100% agreed man, he has to fucking play some games.

          • Avatar
            duder1897 December 3, 2015 at 10:35 am

            I absolutely think Ferguson will be remembered for letting Pogba go. Obviously he and Coman will have to become what I think they will for that to be relevant. My problem is the money. €28m is nothing. They should have gotten a first refusal instead of a set sum.

            Five years ago we had a deal with Santos for Neymar for €30m. They progressed in the Copa and he wanted to stay. We should still have finished the deal. Now he is the best player in the world and out of our reach forever. We are too short sighted. We don’t think five years down the line.

    • Avatar
      tpick December 2, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Bayern Munich only have an option to sign him, not a guarantee. I believe we can still veto it and bring him back. Coman will be worth 35-40m after this season, at the rate hes playing, and with the inflation of young players value.

      • Avatar
        duder1897 December 2, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        No, we can’t veto anything. Coman is gone.

  • Avatar
    BelgianJuventino December 2, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Awesome read, one of the finest articles i have read about our youth. Very informative! Imo we have a good youth group/scouting/development but we use it badly.

    I would like to see more players from our own youth develop into first team players, rather than always being used as makeweights in deals for 28+ players who are often just not good enough

    • thegutterpoet
      thegutterpoet December 3, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Cheers for reading, Belgian! I am unsure of whether we lack the confidence to give the best of our youngsters a chance in the seniors by culture or strategy or simply because those in the senior squad are of a much higher quality. I read that Allegri has been trialling Vitale with the seniors. He made his debut last season, and at 17 was our youngest debutant for 23 years, which says a lot about the regularity of youngsters finding their way into the big mans game. However, when we are a team competing for the greatest honours, it makes sense to replace proven, established quality with the same, wherever possible. We do not have the privilege of low expectations, we have a need to win and compete at the highest level. Which precludes offering development for youth players at senior level. The stakes are too high…perhaps!

      Looking at Man City, the present premiership leaders and my tip for the title, as long as Kompany recovers and Aguero avoids any further injury bothers…They have only two players I consider young. Who play regularly. Sterling and De Bruyne. Who did not come from the City youth system, they cost a combined EU140m.

      Are there many at the other clubs within a serious shout of glory in the richest league in the world? Shaw and Martial cost huge money at Man United, yet I suppose Lingard is worth an honourable mention. Arsenal have Chambers, the Ox and Bellerin, of which, only the latter seems a cheap as chips youth signing and none of them came from the Arsenal youth set-up.

      Munich seem to offer a better example of what we should be aiming for. Muller, Alaba and Lahm seem to have risen through the ranks to progress. Other than which, the rest of their talent has been purchased from other clubs development.

      Barca remain a model of excellence. Yet since their golden generation came through, much like the Man U class of 92, they have purchased quality at high prices.

      I think it comes down to a luck more than solely strategy. Else we would see more than just the Man U and Barca examples of the last two decades.

      So…yes, I in turn, would like to see our youth given more of a chance, but at the expense of the youth we have invested in for the senior squad? Morata, Pogba, Lemina, Dybala, Sandro, Zaza and next Summer Berardi…are all very young players.

      Out of the current crop, the strongest are out on loan and of the primavera…Vitali seems physically and technically capable, as he has already shown. Kastanos also appears to have the physique to match his natural talent. Perhaps Romagna also…Yet standing in their way is a side brimming with internationals. Who also need to be considered. For to give 18 year olds a chance in place of experienced seniors is bound to cause some form of dismay in the ranks?

      A tricky, yet very interesting topic.