In a Russia side that Andrei Kanchelskis derided as the worst he’d ever seen, one man remains above reproach: Aleksandar Golovin is the diamond buried in the horse pile and his careening performance in the 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia helped demonstrate his immense potential.
According to various reports on Friday, the Bianconeri have signed off on a multi-year contract with a fee of £17 million shortly to be agreed with CSKA Moscow.
A timely addition
Juventus’ seventh consecutive Scudetto might add another lacquer of polish to the record but, in truth, they were pushed all the way by Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli.
The Torinese midfield is in dire need of a rebuild with Sami Khedira advancing in years and Claudio Marchisio hamstrung by injury.
Blaise Matuidi is no spring chicken either, leaving Juventus relying heavily on Miralem Pjanić and a man only recently completing his first season in Europe: the Uruguayan dervish Rodrigo Bentancur.
Golovin, therefore, is a timely addition. He has the technique and vision necessary to offer a threat further forward but he is well-rounded enough to perform in the regista role should Pjanić be sidelined.
What’s more, as he proved with a stunning goal against Arsenal last season, he is a potent threat at set pieces.
When faced with Napoli this year, Juventus seemed incapable of dealing with their intensive attacking play. Golovin’s recruitment will help prevent a repeat of the Partenopei’s shock 1-0 reverse in Turin last April, by adding another technically adroit combatant to their ranks.
Max Allegri could have departed Turin this summer but a failure to win the Champions League means that a sense of unfinished business pervades his tenure.
Last year’s exit to Real Madrid was cruel indeed but the tie was characterised by a lack of order and control.
Juventus really should have beaten a struggling Real side, who relied on Cristiano Ronaldo and some generous officiating to progress at their expense.
Golovin will provide an assured and calming presence in midfield, one that is capable of maintaining possession intelligently when his team is under pressure.
His value will only increase, too, should he continue to improve at the rate which has seen him dominate the CSKA midfield all season.
Juventus have intervened now before he has a chance to impress again for his country, with another promising showing sure to inflate the fee and number of suitors commensurately.
Time will tell whether the Russian will thrive in the more competitive environment of Serie A. He must adapt to demands and mentality of a club for whom excellence is a standard, not an aspiration.
For now, however, Juventus fans can celebrate. They’ve landed themselves a cracker.
Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss Group A in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.
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