Lessons from Germany — Juventus should listen

Claudio Villa

Two German teams have outscored Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, 8-1 in the last week. What can Juve learn from these teams?

In football everything is possible, Molinaro can make a good cross, Amauri can help Juve win a scudetto, or Barcelona may go through to this year's Champions League Final. Even if the latter is true, it should not take away from the great work Bayern (and for that matter Borussia Dortmund) have done over the last few years. Say what you want about the Bundesliga having 18 teams, it is hard to argue that their success is not in large part due to superb club management.

Maybe German success will be short lived. After the departures of Gotze, Lewandowsky and maybe Hummels, Borussia Dortmund will likely loose stature. But I digress. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are kings of the footballing world right now, and there is nothing that can be argued about that. They have achieved this status by buying smart, gambling on youth, and believing in a long-term project.

While we are sitting here discussing whether Juve should spend 30m on Suarez, or some obscene amount of money on Ibrahimovic over four years, Borussia are scoring four goals past a star-studded Real Madrid. The author of the poker, Robert Lewandowski, was purchased from Lech Poznan at the age of 21 for a little over 5m. That is less than half a Malaka. A true bargain considering the immense growth of the player. Juventus can't afford to base their attack on one unproven 21 year old. But would it hurt to give a young player some meaningful playing time? I am not talking about Pogba, a 19 year old that plays like a 26 year old. I am talking about developing a player with potential, and giving him time to grow. Like with Del Piero who in two years collected 64 appearances scoring 16 goals.

Lewandowski, Del Piero, Cavani, are players that when purchased showed lots of promise but needed to grow. Why not look for a player like that and pour resources and time to make our own champions. It is not like this is a new idea for the club.

Squad age is a telling factor on whether the team is willing to gamble on youth. Borussia Dortmund has an average squad age of 24.7 years, Bayern Munich's is 26.1 years.

Anyone that now feels old and unaccomplished please raise your hands. /raises hand/

Juventus average age is 28.4 years. Almost four years more than Borussia Dortmund. The five oldest Bianconeri are Buffon, Storari, Anelka, Pirlo, (Iaquinta), and Barzagli. Iaquinta being on that list can hardly be considered this management's fault. And while four out of the other five players are central to the Scudetto winning team, Anelka certainly is not. Now, I don't know if this is Conte's fault, or Marotta's fault, but someone made that decision. Wouldn't it be better to add Beltrame as a 5th striker? And I am not talking about just writing his name on the team sheet. I am talking about giving him playing time. For example, in January for the last 20 minutes when Juventus were up 3-0. Or how about against Siena after Juve were up 2-0, or against Bologna. And not only then, why not bring a young gun into the field from the first minute and give him significant playing time.

Against most teams we have little to loose and lots to gain by having a young striker up front. Let's face it, it is not like our current strikeforce is the most prolific. Even if the player wasn't ready for first team football, those combined appearances would have been a great experience for a player of that age. I really hope to see young players given a chance once Juve get the scudetto. If Anelka or Bendtner are given a single minute over our young promising players, I would consider it a failure on the part of the coach and management.

The other thing that we can learn from Germany is patience.

Bayern Munich is reaching the peak of a project that began years ago. While I understand the desire to be at the top of Europe as soon as possible we need to let the project grow at a normal pace. Maybe last year's unexpected Scudetto made us all feel that we were already there. In reality that couldn't be farther from the truth.

I am a proponent of balance. Juventus can't just buy young promising players. Success on the field is key to economic stability. And to continue succeeding on the field we need good players with experience. With that being said, I don't think we need to spend 30m+ for those players. To paraphrase one of Jorid's earlier comments, we can sell a 5/10 player and replace him for a 6/10 player. Maybe we can do one better and replace a 5/10 with a 7 or 8/10. Juventus may not have the money to buy a 10/10, but they have the money to buy one 7/10 that can become a 9 or 10 over time. This type of player is different than Lewandowski or Cavani, these type of player can walk in and make an instant impact. For this to work, time and patience are key.

Take Ribery for example, the Frenchman is one of the best player in his position now. But that is not how Bayern bought him. In 2006, Ribery had a very good World Cup and one year later he was purchased for 22m. Was he a 10/10 player back then? I don't think so, but he certainly was a young player that could have an instant impact and grow to become a world beater.

This is what Juventus should also look for, a player that is 25 years old or less who has demonstrated great potential and who will grow with the team over the years. We did this with Vidal, Pogba and Bonucci, I think it is time we do this with our forwards. These types of players are not easy to come by, but good team building requires a lot of hard work and plenty of luck.

Jorid recently suggested Aubameyang (Disclosure: Jorid did NOT pay any money for this post, not yet at least). At 23 years old, the kid is just getting started. He has scored 18 goals in the last two years and has plenty of growth left in him. His club, St. Ettiene, is in no rush to sell (contract that expires in 2016). With that being said, I think the club could be persuaded with 20-25m. In addition, I doubt the player will demand a high salary.

Another player out there is Mkhitaryan. Shakhtar may demand a high transfer fee but with his contract expiring in 2015 and with Raiola as his agent, anything is possible. The Armenian is only 24 years old and will certainly bring something different to Juventus.

I am not suggesting we buy these players, those are just examples of what is out there and what can be done with a modest to large investment, however, they do not command the price tag of Ibrahimovic and/or Suarez (who maybe after the bite may be acquired for less than 30m). Some of these players may require a switch in formation. Fortunately Conte has shown flexibility in this regard. None of those players are going to solve our problems immediately but they can help alleviate some of our attacking issues and if they develop to their potential, they can make a big difference in years to come.

Great teams could be built in one year, see Inter 2010, or Milan 2012, but generally success is short lived in those cases. Juventus has decided to take a more sustained road to silverware that will deliver many titles over a longer period of time. This approach takes a lot more time, after all, Ribery was bought 6 years ago, or Xavi started playing for Barca in 98 but started contributing meaningfully to titles in 2004 (6 years later).

As much as I would like to see Marotta splash 35m in one player, I think it is best to continue to build slowly but surely, thinking about the long term. Let's give the young players in our ranks a chance to prove themselves in the big stage. We have a team that is good enough to support the development of one new young player. Also, let's hope the club purchases smart, increasingly improving our roster. At the end of the day, sustained success will be more enjoyable than the bursts of happiness that Inter and Milan fans received over the last few years.

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