Juventus' striker department saw the biggest overhaul last summer. Gone were Carlos Tevez, Alessandro Matri, Fernando Llorente and Kingsley Coman. In came Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Simone Zaza. Hard to believe that Álvaro Morata was Juventus' most "senior" player up front.
That is probably why Juventus had such a hard time scoring goals in the opening matches. Dybala was not physically ready, Mandzukic missed three out of the first seven matches, and so with all the others, there was some fine tuning to be done.
As time went by, Mandzukic recovered and was able to insert his physical presence into the team, Dybala bulked up and found his strength dropping deep and running into defenders, Zaza carved himself a spot as a supersub, and Morata managed to get out of his funk as the season progressed. To this day, I am sure Massimo Moratti paid Morata's girlfriend to break-up with him. I don't put anything pass that guy, but I digress.
So let's see how they fared.
Simone Zaza - 7.5
The newest Italian addition to the front line did the best he could with the limited minutes he was afforded. Over the season he played 693 minutes, starting in merely five games in Serie A, three in Coppa Italia, and coming on as a substitute in 14 Serie A matches and two Champions League games. After all was said and done, Zaza scored eight goals and recorded two assists. That is one goal scoring contribution every 69.3 minutes.
Sure, some of the goals came when the games were already over, but other goals were pivotal. His goal to finish off Sevilla at home comes to mind; and, of course, the game-winning goal against Napoli.
He loses points for his hot head — nine yellow cards and one red card in such few minutes. Most importantly, most of these cards were unnecessary. Unlike some other players, Zaza was determined to make an impression every time he took on the field and I can appreciate that. I hope Juve get to keep him this summer, but if an offer of €30 million or more comes by, I wouldn't fault the management if they choose to sell.
Alvaro Morata - 7.5
Some may think this is low, since he almost got Juve to the Champions League quarterfinals, and won the Coppa Italia, but my biggest issue with him was his consistency. Morata played almost 2,000 minutes in all competitions, scoring 12 goals and assisting nine times. On paper, that looks good. However, he has seven goals from 1,450 Serie A minutes and scored only five Serie A goals in 2016. For a center forward that is just not enough. His upside is. of course, his Champions League record — two goals and two assists in very important matches. Nevertheless, I think his style of play will really help Juventus as we look to win the Champions League next season.
One last thing not related to his numbers but to his style of play. Lately, he falls at every slight touch making his best Cristiano Ronaldo impression. I have never been a fan of that kind of player. C'mon, Alvaro, that crap won't fly in Italy. Stand up and shape up.
Mario Mandzukic - 8.0
Apparently Max Allegri really wanted him at Juventus — and I can see why. Mario is such a boss, keeping defenses occupied while others score the goals. His strength and dedication more than makes up his slow speed. In over 2,600 minutes he has scored 13 goals and recorded six assists. Although his numbers are comparable to Morata's, he gets an extra 0.5 for being such a presence and being Juve's first line of defense. Also, unlike Morata, if you want to take down Mario, you have to stab him with a machete. It was unfortunate he played his worst match against Bayern, likely due to injury. His lack of speed allowed the Germans to push us closer and eventually win the match. If Juventus get players that can provide more service to the Croatian — I am looking at you, Domenico Berardi — I can see him bagging over 15 goals next season.
Paulo Dybala - 8.5
When Juventus paid €40 million for him, I was concerned. Two years ago, Juventus' management seemed ready to pay a large sum for Juan Iturbe, but the player ended up at Roma, calling this move a poor investment would be a huge understatement. Dybala could have turned out to be the same, after all his €40 million price tag was justified as an investment for the future. As such, you would think that he may bag 10-15 goals in his first season.
Instead, he scored 23 goals in all competitions and was one of the most utilized players during the season. He developed a great understanding with Mandzukic and Paul Pogba. Moreover, he is a genuine kid, with both feet on the ground, amazing attitude and a desire to become the best. It is no surprise he gets along with Pogba so well. I would have given him a 9 if he had scored a few more goals in Europe. His one goal in Champions League after 420 minutes of play is too little for a player of his talent. If he can learn to shoot with both feet and bag a few more goals in Europe, he will be coveted by every team. Thankfully, he seems happy to call Turin home for the foreseeable future.
Andrea Favilli - s.v.
One minute of match time is too little. He is apparently going on loan to some Serie B club next season. Hopefully I will be giving him a high rating in a few years after he comes back to Turin. One can only hope.