In Juventus' summer search for that elusive "top player," some people tend to forget the other side of the equation — you know, the players that would be effected whenever said "top player" does arrive for his medical in Turin and puts his name on a shiny new contract.
Alessandro Matri is that other side of the equation. Although, it's not like he's being totally forgotten about. I mean, he's still training with Juventus during the pre-season preparations. He's certainly going to play in this weekend's TIM Trophy matches unless something drastic happens within the next 24 hours.
Yet all I can talk about with the comings and goings of rumors here and there is, "What is going to happen to Alessandro Matri?"
Legitimate question, no? Matri's spot in Antonio Conte's starting lineup was absolutely non-existent when the season ended two months ago. Not only was his spot in Conte's Top XI gone, but it was Marco Borriello taking his spot. You heard me, MARCO BORRIELLO.
That's caused the media — and, as a result, the fans as well — to speculate about what Matri could be up to if that top-class striker ever does arrive in Turin. And we all know what happens when the media speculate — Tuttosport has made a boatload of money 'speculating.'
But the consensus, regardless of what Matri said just a few weeks ago and the fact he signed a new contract in the beginning of April, is that he's on the way out when that striker — be it Stevan Jovetic, Robin van Persie, Edinson Cavani, etc. etc. — does put his name on the dotted line after becoming Beppe Marotta's latest swoop.
But is it really the best thing to do? I mean, look at it this way:
In the first half of last season, Matri was pretty darn crucial to Juventus' success. And I'm not just trying to blow smoke up your shutyomouth, it was pretty much confirmed here, and then here. Along with Claudio Marchisio, Matri was carrying the way in terms of scoring goals.
Of his team-high 10 goals last season, nine of them came in Juve's first 20 games. He was on blistering form and showing that he has the talent to hang at a big club like Juventus. While Mirko Vucinic continued to waste more chances than anybody in recent memory, he played almost every game of the season. But when Matri showed even the slightest bit of struggling, he was sent to the bench and never seemed to feature. Yet not playing regularly is the other side of the equation.
When Matri struggled, he struggled badly. For as good as he was in the first half of the season, he was the complete opposite as Juventus continued to steam towards an undefeated season in Serie A. He lost his place in the starting lineup. And not only that, it was to Marco Borriello (!!), which caused people to really question whether Antonio Conte was a fan of the former Cagliari hitman.
But was struggling to find his first-half form because he was sent to the bench or was he sent to the bench he was actually struggling with form? Like the JuventiKnows fellas said in their post-season ratings, it's hard to say which came first.
There's no doubt that once he did find himself on the bench in favor of Borriello and that hideous mustache/comb over combination of his, Matri's confidence suffered and he inched instead of stormed to a double-digit number of goals on the season.
With that being said, can Matri be a No. 1 striker? It's hard to say at this point. When that confidence is there, he is a dangerous player in front of goal. Then again, what striker isn't? Yet trying to figure out what goes into Conte's decisions sometimes is a task in of itself. And right now, I don't even want to go there regardless of what an incredible job Il Mister has done in his 13 months as manager.
Heck, this could all be paper talk and I just wasted a couple hours writing this article. But, as of right now, Matri's future with Juventus definitely doesn't seem to be as set in stone as some of us would like it to be.