The case to bring Antonio Candreva back to Juventus

beer goggles? - Paolo Bruno

When Antonio Candreva arrived on loan during the second of those seasons we won't really discuss much, I was a reasonably optimistic fella about the whole situation. He was coming into a squad that was clearly flawed in a number of ways that were none of his doing. I wanted things to work out for the simple reason that he was a player that could have helped.

Not exactly how it did play out, though.

As we know, Candreva has gone on to play for Parma and Cessena before landing on co-ownership with Lazio before the January transfer window slammed shut in 2012. Since then, he's found a home with Rome's second club, garnering call-ups to the Italian national team the majority of the time Cesare Prandelli has put names down on a piece of paper prior to the Azzurri playing a game or two.

Why am i bringing up Candreva? Here's why, courtesy of Football Italia on April 2:

Antonio Candreva looks set to complete a permanent move to Lazio, but his future could still be away from Stadio Olimpico.

Napoli, Juventus, Manchester United and Liverpool are all interested in the 27-year-old, and can all, apart from the Old Trafford outfit, offer Champions League football.

And here's a report from Gianluca Di Marzio only two days after the initial post:

The bianconeri have made contact with the player's entourage to see if there are the conditions to get a deal done. Candreva is one of many players that Juve and Lazio could be discussing, as the Old Lady is interested in Lulic while Lazio likes Giovinco and Quagliarella.

Forget the other names involved for just a second, everybody. Keep the concentration on Candreva, because that is truly what all of this is about in the end of it. Names will be thrown out there, but one name will be the consistent one in it all — Antonio Candreva.

True fact: Antonio Candreva has a beard.

Another true fact: A couple of Juventus' best players have beards.

Okay, so it's not all about beards. (Although it's not exactly a negative.)

This, obviously, is more than just beard talk as much as some of us might want it to be. But stay tuned for the 'Beards of Juventus' series we're planning. You can blame the Andreas, Pirlo and Barzagli, for it if you want to.

The main question that might pop into somebody's head is pretty easy to figure out: How would Antonio Candreva really improve Juventus if he was signed over the summer?

Well, I'm glad you asked!

The biggest thing between Candreva the Juventus version and Candreva with Lazio is that instead of being a player who has a reputation for being versatile, he's actually living proof of it. According to WhoSocred, Candreva has played five — yes, five! — different positions for Lazio this season. He's played on the right side in an attacking trident in a 4-3-3, a right winger, a center-attacking midfielder. You name it — outside of playing in defense, of course — and Candreva has probably played at some point during his time with Lazio.

How does the play into Juventus' plans?

It's pretty simple.

Candreva would give Antonio Conte options. And not just in one position, but a whole lot of them. We probably won't need an extra pair of hands to count how many times Conte has used a 4-3-3 since his first season as Juve manager ended. Some of that has to do with the fact that the 3-5-2 has been the formation that has fielded some incredibly successful results. Some of it has to do with the ability to field three of the best defenders Italy has to offer and three world-class central midfielders in the same starting lineup all at the same time.

But what has Conte said when he's asked about why he probably doesn't play more 4-3-3? Because he doesn't think he has the options to play out wide. First it wasn't because Simone Pepe was injured and actually looked like he would return from the injury issues of the past two seasons. Now, it doesn't even seem like a card Conte is going to play unless his team is facing Real Madrid or is trailing in the 80th minute.

Candreva would give the Italian champions options. Nothing spectacular, but something that will improve the team. And at this point in time when Juventus' squad depth still needs something more, a solid player for Conte to have at his disposal isn't the worst thing in the world.

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