Whilst the interminable focus of the mass media remains steadfastly following Pogba’s bowel movements, I have been pondering our signings to date.
The mercato has been immensely strong, and it seems likely that we can expect a reinforcement for midfield and possibly another striker. Asamoah can replace Pogba in the LCM role (where he may prove more consistent than the Frenchman), yet who else can be deployed there, at least until Marchisio returns to the ranks? We could try Sturaro and Lemina in the role, yet neither seem apt to offer similar potency as the departing Pogba or Ghanaian. That particular position in our 3-5-2 is very much an attacking role, supporting the nearby wingback and driving forward to make up the numbers higher up the field.
On the opposite flank, Alves provides a major upgrade on Cuadrado in everything but pace and age, and yet he is far from sloth. His ability on the ball is superb, as is his experience, creativity and cunning.
Pjanic is a more interesting signing for he appears mainly alive and finding top gear in the final third, linking the play, expert short passes, an eye for goal, yet Allegri has mentioned that he can possibly play in front of the defence in the regista role. I feel this is shoe-horning and making less of the Bosnian’s talents than if we were to deploy him as a trequartista, where he could produce far more damage. Khedira is talented and intelligent enough to play as our regista yet his box to box routine is more valuable as a RCM.
Higuain is a massive upgrade on Zaza and Mandzukic. He instantly becomes our finest finisher.
All of the above fit loosely into our 3-5-2. Yet another we have signed, who I have seen seldom talked of, is a player whose game is not at all suited to a 3-5-2.
Marko Pjaca was procured for EU23m on the basis of his form for Dinamo Zagreb. This is a hefty fee for a player recently turned 21 years of age, never tested at the highest level. Strongly linked with Napoli, Liverpool and both Milanese clubs, he chose Juve, where he would earn less than what was on offer at his other suitors. We have been following Marko for a few years and chose to begin negotiations before the EUROS, assuredly due to the concern that his stock would rise and our plans would be thwarted. Despite a sensational showing against Spain, we got our man.
I was a fan of Morata. Despite his rather poor season I have long concluded that he has world class ability very much focused on swiftly turning and accelerating with the ball at his feet, as well as a half decent goal scoring rate. Yet his game is rather singular, which is perhaps part of the reasoning behind avoiding a mammoth bid to bring him back after he decided to return to Madrid. He is at his most venomous when receiving the ball with his back to goal, turning on a sixpence, then charging towards the 18 yard area. Maybe there were discussions of his repurchase. Which led to either a solid demand by Zidane to retain the player or his price proving unpalatable to Beppe. My own conclusion is that Alvaro had some say in the move, and as a club, we have no interest in any player eager to be elsewhere. Regardless he left, as did Cuadrado. Both of which had immense pace. The Spaniard augmented this with control and an eye for goal, the Colombian…well…his pace caused many problems as no defenders like to be attacked with searing acceleration, yet his decision making and execution with the final ball or shot more often than not left a lot to be desired.
I look at both departures as creating a deficit in the squad of pace, ability to beat an opponent, creativity and threat in the final third. I strongly believe Pjaca fills that hole. Yet where will he play? For he is clearly no wingback.
Peeking at his progress in Croatia we find that he was invariably deployed as a wing forward, as part of a front three. Yes he can play as a striker, and due to his eagerness to attack defenders with pace and trickery he is an obvious pretender to Dybala’s crown. His potential however, may be so great that it leads to a 4-3-3.
He can dribble, with pace. He can shoot and pass intelligently in the final third. He cost a pretty penny. If we are to offer him the chance to develop, to mature, to reach his peak in our colours, we must play to his strengths. Which is not at all as a wingback on either flank. It is within a 4-3-3 or any variation which places him high up either flank, solely focused on offensive duties.
Any side with plans to play a front three requires balance. Had we purchased Berardi we would now have two wing forwards, both keen to cut in and shoot or create. Yet then we must consider the huge sum paid for Higuain and the world class genius of Dybala. Can the younger Argentine play as part of a front three? I suspect he could play in any system at Juve and still shine like Sirius on a dark night.
Kindly allow me to assume we attack the season with our current squad, minus Pogba. Yet avoiding incorporating my inklings of Zaza moving and another striker replacing him and also an extra body in midfield, possibly Matuidi or Biglia.
Alves Bonucci Chiellini Sandro
Khedira Pjanic Asamoah
Dybala Higuain Pjaca
Swap in Marchisio for Asamoah after Christmas and we are moving ever closer towards becoming one of the finest teams on the planet.
Yes yes! To move away from our BBC defence, which is one of the strongest of history, may seem like sacrilege, yet we have a Pjaca gem in the mega rough to incorporate. And one of the most burning questions Allegri will have to answer this term is how quickly to bring him through and also how quickly he wishes to deploy Pjanic where he is at his most potent. A 4-3-1-2 would perhaps suit Pjanic, yet precludes the inclusion of Pjaca.
Your thoughts are welcome as always…