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What does Juventus really lack to challenge for the Champions League?

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Rumours of Xherdan Shaqiri joining Juventus?

Checked.

Rumours of Wesley Sneijder joining Juventus?

Checked.

Rumours of Xherdan Shaqiri not joining Juventus?

Checked again.

All Juventini choir-singing "In Marotta we trust"?

Yes, I’ve checked that one as well.

Rumours, rumours and more rumours — football fans love them. This writer does not, but there is nothing one can do when one is fed with transfer news at breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper. In this bleak period of time when we are deprived of the right to watching football — and please, do not throw that "footballers are humans as well, they need to rest" phrase at me, because it is not working — news about players leaving and joining teams, persuaded by greedy agents and wives who can’t have enough of poor footballer’s wages, are too common a business.

"It is reported that" seems to be the most used expression of these days. And, in all fairness, it started to inherit a more mystical air than Top Gear’s Stig introduction "some say...". Every single time you see some news opening up with it, you know something good is coming up, isn’t it right? Waking up to the news Paul Pogba is to be sold and replaced with Radamel Falcao, Miranda, Ramires and Mats Hummels was just the treat. The only thing missing was something on Cristiano Ronaldo moving a step closer to Juventus, as the club has an agreement with Irina Shayk for the signature of the Portuguese.

So it is January — that time of the year when Juventus are looking to add a top-class striker but they end up with a Nicolas or a Nicklas. In all honesty, deals like these can no longer be part of a club whose ambitions are European glory or getting as close to it as possible. Beppe Marotta has done some great things since taking his role in 2010 but Juventus need a little bit more from him in order to have something to say in Europe.

I know, I know. The economic situation of Italy doesn’t allow Juventus to be financially competitive with the best clubs out there and Juventus don’t have the resources to invest in a top player for the club can’t pay such high wages. I get it, alright?! You don’t have to repeat it every time I ask for just a bit more.

One thing I don’t get, however, one thing that baffles me, is how could Dortmund and then Atletico Madrid play a Champions League final without a huge budget? It is an interesting subject considering the upcoming fixture between the German side and Juve in the round of 16.

What have they done and Juventus haven’t? Both teams relied on a fantastic striker — Robert Lewandowski and Diego Costa — but Carlos Tévez has been playing some great football this season as well. It might have been the force of the group that took Dortmund and Atletico so far but the Old Lady is not gambling on individuals either. What about their coaches and mentality, you may ask? Well, this could have been the key factor. Now and then, both Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone give the impression they grew up taming lions, not kicking a ball on the pavement and their teams adopted that attitude as well. More than anything, mentality brought these teams so close to lifting the Champions’ League trophy and Juventus can learn from them.

So until Max Allegri spends some time on a safari, getting a grip on the basics of taming wild animals, Marotta has to come up with something good in the transfer market — a starter, if it is possible. Not Sneijder, if it is possible. Do people really think Sneijder can bring anything new to the current side? He will be cup-tied, 31 years old in June and most certainly will lose a gear or two by next year. Shaqiri, on the other hand, is 23, quick, eager to prove his worthiness, has great technique and he is also cup-tied. It’s not easy to find somebody who can bring a plus this month — don’t even mention Alessandro Diamanti. January transfers rarely work out as well as planned and if anything, Marotta has shown so far he’s not ready to risk.

And I don’t blame him — I wouldn’t risk in January, either. What Marotta has done brilliantly so far was keeping players like Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner in the squad and the same thing should happen in the summer as well. But there was always that something Juventus lacked to move one step further and be a success in Europe, not only in Italy: whether it was mentality, or missing out on a few top targets on the transfer market, or both. In a way or another, this has to change and I don’t care if Allegri or even Marotta must leave. Nobody is bigger than the club.

PS

I’m realistic. They don’t stand a sodding chance.

PPS

Football proved us wrong many times before and, having mentioned Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, I wouldn't mind this happening again now.