Honestly, I struggled to find topics to write about for this post due to the lack of meaningful action in May. Besides the historic but super-tense Coppa Italia victory, there were only a few exhibition-style games that had a largely party atmosphere to them (except, of course, for that one special game). But after the rollercoaster season that was 2015-16, I think the players thoroughly deserved a gentle lullaby; after the awesome Scudetto-Coppa celebrations, of course!
Much ado about nothing
There’s no doubt that this month was extremely useful for one thing — gaining valuable insights about the fringe players of Juventus. As valuable as these insights are, they are equally dangerous. I compare the situation to that of international friendlies: Everybody wants to form conclusions about players based on these games, mostly because these are rare occasions where we get to see them play, but we are equally aware that these are merely friendly games.
Not only are they a very small sample size, but there’s also simply nothing at stake. Likewise, here we saw players that we don’t see that often — like Kwadwo Asamoah, Stefano Sturaro, and Roberto Pereyra — play in a small sample of games where many of us were quick to form judgments about them, some fair and some unfair, but were also somewhat aware that these games were probably not suitable barometers for how (in?)adequate the Juventus backup players are.
The truth is, people may see things differently, but they don't really want to.
Don Draper, Mad Men
But what else can we do? Can we extrapolate these findings to the players in general? Or should we restrain from any definitive judgment for now? Many of these players got some decent playing time but I think it’s fair to say that they failed to impress. Given that the transfer window is just around the corner, squad assessments are being made and transfer targets are being drawn up so the timing is really rather unfortunate. But if Juventus wants to remain a part of the European elite of football clubs, we cannot afford any passengers; every player must be an A-player.
We all have a price
It has been a season to forget for Asamoah, one of the veteran servants and most dearly-loved members of the squad. One injury after the other has robbed him of playing time and form due to which he really had no memorable impact on the team this season. It was no surprise then to read the rumours about his potential departure as good ol’ Antonio Conte is reportedly interested in his services.
It saddens me to say this, but when I thought about the scenario of Asamoah departing for a very handsome fee, I thought heck, everybody has a price. I really like Asamoah; I mean, who doesn’t? He seems like such a decent fellow and is very much part of the Juventus family now after his multiple years of service. He seems like the type of guy you just love to have around in a group. As a fan, you often form emotional ties with certain players, and for me Kwadwo is one of those players. So it feels like a form of emotional betrayal to consider him so dispensable. But such is life, and such is football. The benefits of receiving north of €25 million for him surely far outweigh the mostly emotional costs of seeing him go. Whatever happens though, the memories will always remain.
When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.
One of us
JD made a great point about an issue that might affect the upcoming transfer window: UEFA’s homegrown player quota. The issue fascinated me so I decided to do some research on it to see how it could apply to Juventus. After snooping around on the UEFA website, I managed to find the 100-page list of regulations and the part referring to player registration. Here are the two most important parts from page 40 of the document:
As a minimum, eight places are reserved exclusively for "locally-trained players" and no club may have more than four "association-trained players" listed on these eight places on List A… A "club-trained player" is a player who, between the age of 15 (or the start of the season during which he turns 15) and 21 (or the end of the season during which he turns 21), and irrespective of his nationality and age, has been registered with his current club for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons (i.e. period starting with the first official match of the relevant national championship and ending with the last official match of that relevant national championship) or of 36 months.
An "association-trained player" is a player who [repeat conditions for club-trained players except] has been registered with a club or with other clubs affiliated to the same association as that of his current club for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or of 36 months.
First of all, it’s important to point out that it is irrelevant where the players are from as this would violate EU laws of discrimination on the basis of nationality. So how does Juventus stand in light of this ruling in preparation for next season? Well, we have an abundance of association-trained players, as most other clubs probably do as well: Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Sturaro… and the list goes on. The issue is obviously the club-trained players, which is what people most commonly think of when they say homegrown players (myself included until I wrote this piece).
Let’s start with two slightly confusing cases: Daniele Rugani and Paul Pogba. Juventus have owned Rugani since he was 18 years old. This is the first season that he has actually started playing for the senior team, but assuming that he was still registered at Juventus while he was at Empoli for his loan/co-ownership, he should qualify as a CTP. Pogba, however, is a tricky one. He has been at the club since he was 19 years old but turned 22 in his third season at the club. If I understand the rules correctly, this means that he does not qualify as a CTP (had he turned 21 in his third season, he would have counted). Primavera goalkeeper Emil Audero is certainly a CTP so no problems there, while Claudio Marchisio obviously qualifies as well, but due to his grave injury, probably won’t be registered in the Champions League player list for the group stages.
You might be thinking, who cares? Well, the point of all of this is how this will affect the transfer window, if at all. Do we register Marchisio even though he would miss half of the group stages? Do we promote more Primavera players to the first squad instead of purchasing externally?
Am I just an idiot that doesn’t know how to read and this entire thing is actually a non-issue?
Sidenote: Who knew that Audero was born in Indonesia and has dual-nationality? His full-name is in fact Emilio Audero Mulyadi. The things you learn, right? Thank you, Transfermarkt.com!
Can I kick it?
Given that the season has ended, I would like to encourage you all to step up and write quality guest posts like those of JD last month for the blog as well, if you so desire. The greater the variety of opinions and perspectives, the more fruitful and colorful discussions can be had on the blog. Other than transfer dealings, things are a bit quieter on the blog than during the season. So just get in touch with Danny and show us what you can do!
Thank you Adidas for the 50 percent discount last month, got this beautiful gem for a mere €65!
I'm crazy like a fool. What about it, Daddy Cool?
Finally, I would like to thank every single one of you for being part of the family on the blog for the 2015-16 season. As crazy and intense as this season was, it is always an absolute pleasure for me to experience all the emotional highs and lows of La Vecchia Signora with you all AND be allowed to air all my unusual ramblings on a monthly basis. Add to that the fascinating, although sometimes a bit heated, discussions in the comments section and I can say that it’s always an honour! Grazie a tutti!
Onwards and upwards it is then to the next season!
Fino alla fine, Forza Juventus!