On Alessandro Matri and his future (or lack thereof) at Juventus

Valerio Pennicino

Should he stay or should he go? (Just remember, if Matri leaves, so does Ms. Nargi.)

It's just natural, logical thinking sometimes. Juventus signed Carlos Tevez, therefore Manchester City need to replace a striker on its roster. And it's the same way when a new player arrives at the club and there are already plenty of options within the squad. "Oh, Tevez is at Juventus, huh? I guess somebody better start looking for a new team!"

See, simple to figure out. In comes one player, out goes another. So easy a caveman can do it...or something like that.

There has been talk of Alessandro Matri leaving for weeks, not just because of the arrivals of Tevez and Fernando Llorente over the course of the past week or so. It's no secret by now. This isn't some sudden creation by the Italian media because Carlitos has shown up, grabbed the No. 10 jersey, and has since been declared Juventus' savior. Nah, it's been around a little longer than that.

There's been rumors of a return to Milan, the club he grew up at. There have been rumblings he may be included as part of a package that goes along with plenty of cash to Fiorentina in exchange for Stevan Jovetic. There have been others, too, but obviously haven't stuck, dissipating into the wind rather quickly.

What am I trying to get at? Well, I'll come out and say it: Matri wearing a Juventus isn't as bad as it may seem.

He's had his struggles over the last two-full seasons with Juventus, yes. That's pretty well documented. It's also been basically discussed into the ground, so I wouldn't talk about it much more. There was a time where it seemed like his struggles and lack of form would be his one-way ticket out of Turin sooner rather than later.

With that being said, though, I pose this question: If Matri is sold, who is the natural backup to Llorente?

The way the current roster is constructed, Matri seems like a natural understudy to the Spanish international, who very well may take a little bit of time to shake off the rust after his 2012-13 season at Athletic Bilbao that was mostly spent on the bench. And if the rumors of Antonio Conte returning to a 4-3-3 formation — one where Matri thrived in the fall of 2011 — then it would make sense if Matri is kept around because how he fits into the system.

But the ultimate question remains: Does Conte have the faith in Matri should he stays around next season?

Based on who Matri played significant minutes against last season, it leaves a lot to be desired.

The list of teams Matri started against last season was, to put it lightly, not exactly murderers' row. There were a few Champions League games thrown in there, a few games against teams who finished in the top third of the table. But for every one of those starts or appearances, there were games played against the likes of Seire A bottom feeders. For every start against Bayern Munich, there were ones against teams like Siena and Pescara.

And out of the four main strikers last season, Matri started the fewest amount of games (10). That's not exactly an kind of ringing endorsement. Conte can say that he has faith in all his strikers, but the facts are the facts. Matri may be the only natural prima punta on last season's roster.

But based on that completely uninspiring list of Matri's playing time last season, it's not hard to put two and two together and think Conte wasn't exactly enamored with the striker. And for that very reason, it could mean his days in a Juventus shirt are numbered — whether he deserves it or not.

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