It’s no secret to anyone who follows the game closely, or Juventus in general, that the almost surgical skill with which Juventus operates in the transfer market is helmed by Beppe Marotta. The aplomb with how he and his team have grafted a path from Serie B to regular Champions League contenders in less than a decade is nothing less than remarkable. Certainly, our greatest flaw in regards to transfer strategy has been the understanding that if a player asks to leave, we will let them go. A gentleman’s sort of agreement between mutual parties. Assured we are in the comfort that Beppe already has someone on his radar to replace them with whom is more than capable, and likely costing a fraction of the cost. It is this agenda which is truly harming Juventus. Certainly, the ability to maneuver in the market with such implicit skill is of enormous benefit, but a revolving door is bad for a dressing room.
When you look at Barcelona, Madrid, Bayern, et al champions league contenders, there’s one thing that truly separates them from us. It’s not revenue, it’s not TV rights, it’s not our manager, personnel, merchandise sales, or anything else you may be able to draw on. The simple fact is, they maintain the same core group of players for many years. (This is also seemingly why the premier league hasn’t provided a team with a sustained Champions League impact since Sir Alex was the skipper at Manchester United. But, that’s neither here nor there.)
If we look solely at the lineups from our two most recent Champions League finals in the past few years, we’ll notice that 6 players in total were on both rosters across starters and subs. (I have included Chiellini in this even though he was injured for the 2015 final.) Realizing that when you announce your champions league squad, you’re allotted 23 roster slots, the immediate reaction for all Juventus supporters should be nothing short of alarm. Take that in contrast with Real Madrid’s last two champions league triumphs and you’ll notice less than 5 differences across starters and subs. Barcelona’s champions league triumphs are another of the same story.
I will concede that it’s been necessary to restructure, recruit and rebuild ever since Calciopoli, especially as we have grown in both stature and financial might. The question I typically come face to face with is, have we done too much? We’ve certainly pulled off some amazing coups in regards to transfers, but have we sacrificed stability and consistency to shop in the bargain bin? Have we splashed the cash on almost an entire new 11 of starters and fringe players every year for the sake of saving when they’re undoubtedly going to be shown the exit door within 36 months? (Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez, Dani Alves, and the list goes on.)
Antonio Conte once famously quipped, “Well, you cannot go to eat at a 100-euro restaurant with just 10 euro in your pocket, can you?” There is absolutely something to that, but we have simply eclipsed that turn of phrase financially. We have ample funds to spend and we have flexed that muscle. We have proven that we can surely eat at the 100-euro restaurant with the rest of the big boys of world football.
This year marks what I believe could be a pivotal turning point in our quest for Champions League glory. We at last truly have an undeniably world class starting 11 at our disposal. We have startling strength in depth, and we have one of the best tacticians in Max Allegri as our manager to navigate the waters. What we need now is to allow Mad Max to take this group and keep them together for several years straight. To give him the stability to truly get the best out of our players. The ability to gain that consistency and understanding between players that truly marks a great side and allows them to be competitive year in and year out. If we can keep this squad together, make minor adjustments in the coming windows, we have every opportunity to truly make our mark on the continent. If we continue to live by the sword of if they ask to leave, we’ll allow it, and buying and selling the way we have, we’ll always simply be trying to find a balance, trying to build a balance.