It's easy to rag on Simone Pepe because he's not the most skilled player on the Juventus roster. It's easy to question why he played as much as he did the last couple of seasons (even though last year he wasn't all that bad). It's easy to scream from the top of your lungs "Why did Marotta pay all that money for this guy?!" after Pepe skies a cross completely over his intended target or drives one right into his defender's shinguards.
It's also easy to feel bad for Pepe after the injuries he has had to deal with this season.
Juventus midfielder Simone Pepe is to undergo surgery to help overcome a thigh injury after suffering a further setback in his recovery.
After a fourth recurrence of the injury he initially sustained in a pre-season friendly, the 29-year-old has decided to have an operation after managing just 20 minutes of Serie A action this season. I have had four relapses in the same area, so after careful consideration we have decided that I will undergo an operation to get back playing as soon as possible," said the former Udinese player.
That's 20 minutes more than any of us have played this season for Juventus — or professionally in Italy — this season. It's unfortunate — and that's just an understatement.
I was interested to see what Pepe's role with the team would be this sign. When you consider that Juventus were entrenched in the 3-5-2 formation, had brought in another wing-back in Mauricio Isla, and shifted another summer signing — Kwadwo Asamoah — into the team's starting left wing-back. A reserve role, which certainly is a better fit for Pepe, was likely, but to what extent was never all that certain.
And I guess we'll have to wait until next summer's pre-season training to really know.
I will say this, though: I bet Pepe's absence is bigger than we probably realize. Sure, he's not superior at anything in particular, but he gave Antonio Conte choices last season. Conte's said this year that a 4-3-3 depends a lot on Pepe, and I believe it. He has a different set of players to chose from this season compared to last, but look at Pepe's playing time before and after Juve shifted to the 3-5-2 formation. Go ahead. I bet there's a parallel.
Either way, with things as up-and-down as they have been these past six or seven weeks, it'd be nice to hear some good news on the injury front in the non-Giorgio-Chiellini-returning-to-action-soon division.
Prayer circle for Simone, anyone?