Juventus: Allegri’s return will prompt a reboot in Turin
With Max Allegri pledging his future to Juventus, expect big changes in the summer at the Allianz Stadium.
It was only once they had won a seventh-straight title that Massimiliano Allegri could muster the courage to commit his future once again to the Old Lady.
Even then it was hardly a ringing endorsement from the former Napoli player. “If they don’t fire me, I see myself as staying at Juventus next year too,” he stated coyly. “We have to congratulate Napoli, which kept pace with a great Juventus. It’s hard to see these four years being repeated.”
That admission – that it is hard to see Juventus’ upward trajectory continued – hardly took the sort of insight of a Nostradamus to divine. For the first time in a while, the Bianconeri were harried all the way to the end in the hunt for the Scudetto – and not simply as the result of brilliance on the part of the Maurizio Sarri’s outfit.
If, then, as Allegri is careful to point out, Juventus are to continue in their championship-winning form, they will require a root and branch rethink.
The question is: what will it look like?
Reshuffling the squad
As far as the Juventus squad is concerned, there will be plenty of changes taking place over the summer.
After a disappointing year, Alex Sandro is likely to be sold with the club hoping to return about €50 million for the Brazilian. In addition, the versatile Kwadwo Asamoah should be moving on.
Elsewhere, a number of veterans should be moved on to make space for young blood: it’s likely Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sami Khedira have played their last match in black and white.
In the midfield areas, questions still surround the underachieving Stefano Sturaro and veteran Claudio Marchisio. The former has never looked the part of a Juve player. The latter, has been a shadow of his himself following his knee injury.
Despite having two years left on his contract, it’s hard to imagine Marchisio returning to an important role despite having two years left on his contract. Still, he remains the only product of the club’s youth program on the roster.
With the official announcement of Gigi Buffon’s retirement seemingly days away, the search for a keeper to pair with Wojciech Szczesny is on.
Genoa’s Mattia Perin looks like the club’s top choice but it remains to be seen how committed Juventus will be if his signing turns into an auction. Lazio’s veteran Federico Marchetti would be a suitable backup but, at 35, he will be a short-term solution at best.
Sell Higuain? Sell Dybala?
The major questions about Juventus’ future concern their stars in midfield and attack. In order to move on as a team, they will have to sell either Gonzalo Higuain or Paulo Dybala.
At 31, Higuain could still bring in €50 million. Along with revenue from Sandro’s pending sale, that might be enough to bring back Alvaro Morata and sign Manchester United’s Anthony Martial.
But what will become of Mario Mandzukic? The veteran Croat accepted Allegri’s challenge to start on the left wing while backing up Higuain at striker.
Mandzukic’s work rate was impressive as he tracked back regularly but he’s not getting any younger and might want to move back to his striker’s role elsewhere.
On the other hand, should they so choose, Paulo Dybala could bring a return of €125 million or more, giving the Old Lady the chance to rebuild entirely for the future.
Whether or not Juventus could survive without the Argentinian remains to be seen. Douglas Costa has been a revelation this season and, despite battling injuries, has shown great promise. In addition, Allegri could convert Juan Cuadrado into an attacking right back, opening space for Bernardeschi.
Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic are more than serviceable in central midfield but neither are likely to lead Juventus to a much-sought Champions League title.
At 22, Rodrigo Bentancur plays with a level of maturity far beyond his age. However, the anticipated arrival of Emre Can who is out of contract at Liverpool would seem to provide the side with a younger, more athletic version of Khedira.
Defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Matteo De Sciglio and Andrea Barzagli are expected to return next season. Medhi Benatia made many forget Leonardo Bonucci’s departure, although Daniele Rugani failed to win Allegri’s confidence once again.
Juventus have been working to sign Matteo Darmian from Manchester United, hoping to add another experienced defender in addition. Given his many injuries, it is unlikely Benedikt Howedes will return.
The wildcards are a talented crop of youngsters who have been out on loan. After successful stints at Atalanta, defender Mattia Caldara and midfielder Leonardo Spinazzola are expected to be recalled.
It remains to be seen if there is room for Marko Pjaca who was loaned to Schalke after his knee injury. Midfielder Rolando Mandragora who had difficulty recovering from foot surgery spent the year at Crotone. Then there’s the speedy 18-year-old striker Moise Kean, who debuted for Juventus as a 16 year old and spent this season on loan with Hellas Verona.
While Caldera, Spinazzola and Pjaca have the greatest chances of landing a spot with Juventus, any of the five could be part of a major deal to secure that topflight midfielder the club has been lacking throughout Allegri’s tenure.
The constant throughout Juventus’ run of seven straight Scudettos has been a blend of youth and experience with the mixture leaning more on experience.
With many details to be finalised, it appears Allegri may have a younger and more athletic Juventus next season. It remains to be seen if it will be enough to win the Champions League.
What do you think? Will Juventus rebuild over the summer? Let us know by commenting below.