Quiz time, what do the following players have in common?
Juan Iturbe, Adrien Rabiot, Fabian Schar, Kingsley Coman, Shkodran Mustafi, Romelu Lukaku and Eder Balanta.
If you said "These players have been linked with Juve," you get 10 points. If you said "They are all under 23 years old," you get 10 more points. Actually Mustafi and Schar are the oldest one of this list at 22 years of age.
What I am trying to get at is that Juventus appear to be focusing on young, up-and-coming players. This is a significant shift from previous seasons. For instance, Simone Pepe, Fabio Quagliarella, Andrea Pirlo, Andrea Barzagli, or Carlos Tévez don't necessarily scream youth. As a matter of fact, the youngest players to have come to Juve with the exception of Paul Pogba have been all 23 (Leonardo Bonucci and Kwadwo Asamoah) or older. Even the youngest targets that we failed to acquire were over 23 (Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero) or older (Edin Dzeko was 25) when we were after them. Now we are apparently going after Iturbe, who is 21 years old.
Of course there are some upsides and some downsides to going for youth. Players like the ones on the list above can become the next Ángel Di Maria, Arturo Vidal, or Didier Drogba. However, they can also become the next Raffaele Palladino, Albin Ekdal, or Malaka Martinez. The problem, of course, is that if we wait a couple of years to find out, they will be out of our reach. I don't have to tell you how the Aguero, Dzeko, and Jovetic deals ended up.
So the options seem to be: Buy many promising youngsters or buy fewer, more established players.
Choosing the former means Juve are unlikely to win anything in Euorpe anytime soon; actually, it may mean that Juve may lose the scudetto battle in the near future. Let's be honest here, are Iturbe and Coman what Juventus need to compete with an ever more powerful Roma and an upcoming Napoli? I don't think so. Sure he may help, but remember that Barzagli, Pirlo, Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Tevez are not getting any younger, and Roma and Napoli have younger squads (incidentally, the average squad age: Juventus 28.5, Roma 24.8, Napoli 26.6).
However, if they live up to expectations, in a few years Iturbe, Coman and others can not only help us in Italy but can take as ll the way in Europe. Sure some deals may not work out, but they can be used in the future to buy other players. If for every three young players we buy, we get one first team member, one substitute for a season or two (like Luca Marrone), and one who can be used in other deals I would say we have be successful.
The other option is to buy players like Drogba or even better Alexis Sánchez. Those players can easily help Juventus continue to win in Italy, and may even help us move to a little further in the Champions League, but I don't think they are enough to win the trophy with the big ears. Adding one or two stars every year may get us there but the reality is that over the next 5 years we will lose more established talent than we can bring. Then there is the price, Sanchez might have been affordable before the World Cup, but right now, and with Arsenal's interest, he is out of our reach. Remember that Arsenal were willing to pay €30m for a 29-year-old with one year left in his contract.
So, if bringing youth is our new policy, why not bring Domenico Berardi back? Berardi is already linked with Juventus, sure we have to pay €15 million next year, but bringing him this year would have decreased our ability to bring other promising players to Vinovo. And if our plan is long term, having Berardi this year or next year makes little difference.
According to recent rumors, Juventus appear to be targeting mostly young players (under 23) with promising careers ahead of them. Although this approach is unlikely to get us the Champions League anytime soon, it may be the best shot we have at winning it in the future. Don't believe me? Imagine a team in which Nicola Leali, Berardi, Pogba, and Iturbe reach their potential, wouldn't it be better than what we have now plus Sanchez? I would say so.
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