We have been here before, promises of great strikers in May and June, ending with the signings of Eljero Elia and Nicklas Bendtner in August. There are some differences with respect to previous years which put Juventus in a good negotiating position. For instance, Juve have a coach going on his third year, they are champions of Italy for the second consecutive time, and are qualified to Champions League.
All of these make it easier to negotiate with players. However, if you believe the media, Juventus haven't had a hard time negotiating with players in the past. It was reported that Sergio Aguero was ready to move to Juve until City came knocking. Same can be said for Robin van Persie. The problem when signing these players came when the Old Lady had to deal with clubs asking for ridiculous amounts of money for their so called "top players."
The main issue Beppe Marotta has faced when signing a top player is agreeing on a transfer fee with the club owning the player's contract. Of course, this had to do with Juve lacking the funds to build a new team and to buy a top player. But not this summer. For the first time since Marotta took over as Director General, the team does not need a major overhaul. Juventus needs a forward and a left winger. Anyone else we buy will likely be backups, or promising players ready to make their mark.
In other words, Marotta's job shouldn't be too hard, right?
Not so fast.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month, you will now that this is simply not the case. Fiorentina and Real Madrid are demanding €30 million for Stevan Jovetic and Gonzalo Higuain, respectively. To make matters worse, Marotta has gone on record saying that the Bianconeri do not have that kind of cash. Carlos Tevez is the other "top player," his low transfer fee is great, but his high salary may end up costing the club just as much if not more than Higuatic. Take from this what you will, but if Juve fail to sign Jovetic, Higuain, or Tevez, anyone else they get will be deemed a failure.
So what should Juve do if Marotta fails for a third summer in a row to get that coveted top player? I see two possible camps.
Camp 1: Marotta is not a bad director. After all, he got us Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal, and Kwadwo Asamoah to name a few. He also has overseen the development of a very strong youth program, the most notable example being Paul Pogba. Failure to sign a top striker is not Marotta's fault, but that of an overvalued system. A system that demands €30 million for a player who was scored 14 goals and provided seven assists in 40 matches played for club and country in the last year (Jovetic). A good player will eventually come, unfortunately not this year.
Camp 2: Sure, Marotta can sign all these great players that were developed into what they are now. The problem is that a big club needs big players, and if the DS can't secure them, then the DS is not good enough. Marotta is the Simone Padoin of sporting directors. He doesn't damage the team and can contribute from time to time, but he is not a winner. Juventus should start looking at someone else to manage transfers.
I am somewhere in the middle. If Marotta fails to secure Jovetic or Higuain, but gets Tevez, I would be happy. Some may diss Tevez as an inexpensive option, or a player past his prime, or a stop-gap solution. Some of those things may be true, but it would be hard to argue that Carlitos would be the highest profile player to join the team since the days of Ibrahimovic (with all respect to Diego). If that is the only top player we acquire I would not complain.
If Marotta secures a top attacking midfielder and fullback I would also be satisfied. I am talking someone like Di Maria, or Robben. To be honest, I believe these players will be harder to get than Jovetic or Higuain but I bring them up for the sake of argument.
If however, all that Juve have to show for come September are players of the caliber of Angelo Ogbonna or Alessandro Diamanti I would be disappointed to say the least. I wouldn't call for Marotta's head but I think it would be time to rethink how Juve handles big transfers. In this case, something simply is not working, and although Juve must be able to make champions, I should also be able to buy champions once in a while.
It will be a tough summer for Marotta, one in which he must demonstrate that he is as ambitious and capable as our president and our coach. Providing Antonio Conte with a revamped team is essential to keeping our coach with us for the foreseeable future. Failure in this regard will raise serious question marks on Marotta's ability to be Juventus' sporting director. I appreciate the Vidal & Co. purchases that have been performed over the last few seasons, but when Juventus can't lure top quality players, something must be revised.
Tell us what a successful summer transfer looks like for you in the comments section (be realistic) and where you stand on this.