Almost every Juventus related story nowadays has the names Stevan Jovetic, Gonzalo Higuain, or Carlos Tevez in it. Although these strikers will undoubtedly improve Juventus' roster, it is clear that they will come at a high cost — salary and/or transfer cost that is. For this reason, Juventus have adopted a model based on buying young players before they make it big and become unaffordable. Chibsah, Appelt, Buoy, Gabbiadini, Boakye are a few examples of this strategy. This policy leaves the club in a win-win situation, if the player is good enough, he can move up to the first team, if he is not, he can be traded with other teams. The investment is likely to pay for itself over time no matter how good the player is.
Recently, two young players have been linked to Juventus that fit this profile. And who knows, these players may just have enough talent to play for the Bianconeri one day.
This 18-year-old playing for Sassuolo has been heavily linked to the Bianconeri for months. Berardi played 37 matches in the 12-13 season (26 as a starter, 11 as a substitute) scoring 11 goals.I have not personally seen much of the player but the interest of many big clubs suggests that Berardi is more than a one season wonder. He has been mostly deployed as an attacking winger (23 matches on the right, 10 on the left) but has also featured as a center forward four times in the 12-13 season. Berardi not only has an eye for goal, but has also provided a few impressive assists this season.
Berardi's story is a little different than most professional players. At age 13, he was released from Cosenza's academy and it all appeared to be over for him. Three years later, Berardi went to visit his older brother, Francesco, in Modena. During his visit he went to play calcio with his brother's friends who noticed his above average ability with the ball. One of Francesco's friends put him in contact with Luciano Carlino, an assistant coach with the youth Sassuolo squad. Carlino invited Berardi for a try out, and impressed by Berardi's ability, the 16 year old was asked to stay permanently with Sassuolo's Allievi Nazionale squad.
Jealous? I know I am.
From the Allievi, he was promoted to the Primavera squad, and from there, to the senior team in a matter of two years. His rise to fame hasn't gone unnoticed by big clubs — most notably Juventus — in Serie A, and both Manchester clubs (City and United). The interest of both English clubs seems to have diminished recently, probably because of coaching changes and not because of Berardi's form.
Juventus' good relationship with Sassuolo after loaning Chibsah and Boakye to the club will probably help any deal involving Berardi. It will also suit the interest of both clubs if Berardi stays for at least one more season with Sassuolo to gain Serie A experience. Both Pasquato and Immobile will quickly remind us how hard it can be to transition from Serie B to Serie A.
Nowadays, it's hard to imagine a big Serie A side showing interest in a 21 year old playing in Serie D. Most of these players are either snapped up when at a much younger age, or purchased by clubs in Serie B or lower. However, if rumors are to be believed, Juventus will sign Diagne Mbaye from Serie D side Bra.
Finding information on the Senegalese player was harder than finding the color white in Moratti's teeth. However, I was able to find a little bit about him (this was way more rewarding than being Moratti's dentist I am sure). In the 2011-2012 season, Diagne was playing for Prima Categoria side Brandizzo based nearby Turin (Prima Categoria is the 8th division of the Italian League with over 1500 teams). By the end of the season, Brandizzo won the championship in no small part due to Diagne's goals.
The year after that, Diagne moved to Serie D side Bra. Serie D is the highest non-professional league in Italy (this will be important later). The jump from Prima Categoria to Serie D is huge, and although Diagne was expected to contribute, it would be hard to imagine the kid would settle in with ease. Diagne not only settled, but made himself a permanent fixture in the starting line-up. From his season's stats, it appears that he wasn't playing much at the beginning of the season. In the last half however, he managed to play almost all games for the full 90 minutes. By the end of the season Diagne had scored 23 goals in 29 matches. His goals helped Bra win promotion to Lega Pro Seconda Divisione - aka Serie C2, the last professional soccer league in Italy.
Watching the highlights of his season with Bra, it appears as though he is playing against kids a few years younger than him. His physicality, dribbles, and understanding of the game are well above average. His impressive season got the attention of many Serie B sides, however, it appears that it also got the attention of Juventus.
Apparently, everything is ready for Juventus to buy Diagne, the only wrinkle being that Bra is not a professional club yet. Promotion from the non-professional Serie D, to the professional league C2 does not happen until July 1st. Once this happens, Diagne can be registered as a professional and be transferred to Juventus shortly thereafter. To the best of my knowledge, only one other player over 20 years old has transferred from Serie D to Juventus straight away. Moreno Torricelli moved from Serie D side Caratese to Juventus in 92, after catching the eye of Trapattoni in a pre-season friendly.
But unlike Torricelli, don't expect Diagne to stay with the first team after the transfer. Diagne may be lucky enough to go to the ritiro with the rest of the Juve team this July, but he will certainly leave to a Serie B side before the 2013-14 season begins. At 21 years of age, the clock is ticking, and Diagne doesn't have much time to move up the ranks if he wants to play for Juve.
The video highlights below show that the Diagne is too good to play in Serie D, what is left to be seen is whether he is good enough to play for Juve. Time will tell.