Marco Tardelli, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Michael Laudrup...Davide Baiocco. Those are just some of the illustrious names that have pulled on those black and white stripes and gracefully strutted their stuff for the Bianconeri (or ran around like a headless chicken in Baiocco's case).
After the departures of long-term cogs in the midfield engine, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, there was a giant question mark over the future of the Juventus midfield. Sami Khedira was the marque signing last summer. Mario Lemina, signed on loan with an option to buy from Olympique Marseille, was an unknown quantity to most. Then came the unexpected late signing of Brazilian playmaker Hernanes, after failing to secure the signature of a top-class trequartista.
To say that the season started off rocky would be an understatement. A lack of familiarity, injuries to key players, and poor form all combined to make the decision to let Pirlo leave and sell Vidal to Bayern Munich look like one of Giuseppe Marotta's biggest mistakes. But as players came back, and the midfield became more settled, things started to have that familiar feel as the midfield ran like the well-oiled machine that we'd become used to for so long.
Paul Pogba - 8.5
The mercurial Frenchman took over the iconic No. 10 shirt after Carlos Tevez's exit in the summer. After an underwhelming start to the season, where it appeared that the weight of that jersey bore on young Paul Labile, Pogba finally seemed to come to grips with his new increased responsibility. Unsurprisingly, this happened in the derby game versus Torino, which was when Juve's season effectively turned the corner.
Statistics wise, this was his best season in Juve colours, hitting double figures in both goals and assists in all competitions. He scored some brilliant goals (my favourite was this beaut against Chievo), displayed the skills that have made him one of the hottest properties on the transfer market, and developed an adorable bro-mance with Paulo Dybala. He still needs to become more imperious in European competition (only one goal and two assists in this season's Champions League), but this will come with time.
Sami Khedira - 7.5
Despite a continuation of his renowned injury problems, Khedira had an encouraging first season with the Bianconeri. He was brought in to add experience and his dynamism to the midfield, effectively replacing Vidal. He made twenty-five appearances across all competitions, and scored five goals and provided four assists.
Only 29 years old, Khedira still has some good years at the top level to give to Juventus, even with his persistent injuries. He can be an important cog for the future successes, as Sami has pretty much done it all, as a World Cup and Champions League winner.
Claudio Marchisio - 7
A season that started with injury problems for Il Principino, ended in the same vein. Like Pogba, Marchisio lost long time midfield partners and seemed to struggle a bit at the start of the campaign. But as the season progressed, Claudio, again like Pogba, came into his own and was consistent if unspectacular.
With the loss of Pirlo, Marchisio was permanently the team's new deep-lying playmaker. While he clearly does not have the quality of Pirlo, he does have decent vision and passing range. His statistics are not amazing — only two assists all seasons — but his abilities aid to keep play moving and he can play key passes that lead to goals. No goals this season was disappointing, but that has never truly been Claudio's role on the team and it's even harder with him playing further from goal, and he doesn't take set pieces.
His season-ending injury was the second ACL injury of his career. At 30 years old, one wonders how this may affect his abilities going forward. Here's to hoping an injury free one next season.
Mario Lemina - 6.5
The Gabonese international was very much an unknown when he was signed on loan from Olympique Marseille last summer. Personally, I'd only seen him a few times in action for the French club, and was never particularly impressed. But, here he was.
An injury-blighted first season, Mario did put in commendable performances when he got the chances, so much so that Marotta took the option to sign the young midfielder on a permanent basis. A tenacious, hard-working, box-to-box midfielder, Mario is also quite skilful and can make a defender look silly when needs be. Two goals (including a brilliant solo effort against Atalanta) in fourteen games is a pretty good return.
Looking forward to more from this youngster, once he can maintain consistent fitness.
Kwadwo Asamoah - 6
Another injury stunted campaign (this seems to be following a familiar theme) for the Ghanian resulted in a mere thirteen appearances between Serie A and the Coppa Italia. More often than not this season, he was deployed in his more usual midfield role to solid but unspectacular results.
If reports are to be believed, there is some interest in Kwadwo's services; most notably from Chelsea where he could reunite with former boss Antonio Conte. Marotta and co. will have to decide whether they want to continue with Asamoah, and give him the time to get back to being the force he was when he first joined, or to move him on and make something back from their investment. If it was me, given he's going to be twenty-eight this year, I'd move him on and reinvest that in a better younger version.
Stefano Sturaro - 6
The first full season for the mediano from Liguria saw some more playing time but pretty much the same in terms of performances. He had a couple standout performances, most notably when he came on against Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League round of sixteen and added much needed energy and scored the equalising goal. Unfortunately, when he came on in the second leg of that tie, he did not have the same level of performance and even skied a sitter in extra time.
A good player to have as a backup, or as a tactical ploy, but he may probably be nothing more than that. Or I could be totally wrong and he could turn out to be the best midfielder in the world. Who knows?
Roberto Pereyra - 5.5
Blah blah blah injury-ravaged season blah blah blah didn't fully recognise potential yada yada yada. Sigh.
Pereyra's injury troubles meant we played without a trequartista for most of the season, and therefore mainly deployed 3-5-2. When he did play, the Argentine was average for the most part, rarely showing any moments of brilliance.
There are currently reports that West Ham are interested in the midfielder; another player who could possibly leave and be replaced (honestly, I've never really been a fan; for an attacking midfielder, his goals and assists output is far from impressive).
Hernanes - 5
Needless to say, the aging Brazilian is not who most Juve fans had in mind when we were thinking about possible signings for trequartista. But, that's who we got. C'est la vie.
Hernanes' Juventus career did not start out terribly. A decent display covering for the injured Marchisio against Manchester City gave some reason for hope. However, subsequent to that one game things went downhill. Remember that dumb tackle against Borussia Moenchengladbach that left us down to ten men? No? Well let me remind you!
A decent passing range and he has arguably performed better playing deeper than behind the strikers, but other than being able to do the slowest step-over you'll ever see, nothing moves you about watching Hernanes play (even his set piece deliveries were woeful).
At 31 years old, there is not much upside. He could do better next season, or he could do worse, or he could be the same. Who cares? Can Juventus sell him already? Bidone.
Simone Padoin - s/v
As great as he may be, didn't play in the midfield much this season.